Building New Worlds: Creating a Home for Experiential Art

Experiential art immerses viewers through interactivity, adaptation, and sensory world-building, which most often are used as tools to extrapolate and make tangible the core meaning and artistic intent of the work. Experiential art evokes a sense of ‘being there;’ it provides an access point that becomes intimately enmeshed with our sensorium.

From the first interactive multi-user dungeons, to the interactive of the 90s, all the way up through the post-internet experiments of the aughts and into our current Web3 era—experiential art has come in many forms. Obviously, this is a dramatic understatement. For decades, artists have built expansive, interactive worlds that convey rich conceptual meaning and provide exciting, immersive experiences for the viewer. Wild is committed to shaping a landscape for experiential art to thrive and find its home.

Up until now, the global platform for so-called experiential art has been largely obscure. Hard to find and often difficult to access, experiential art has sprouted up mostly in underground and DIY venues, esoteric internet spaces, niche online communities, and entertainment industry events. Typically, artists had little recourse to express this work outside of a select few under-resourced galleries and public institutions, or their own self-created publishing channels. There was no unifying resource for cultivating, supporting, discovering, or otherwise rooting an experiential art market, and no place for artists to go to share that work in a native context.

Thanks to innovations in web 3D, software that interacts with the blockchain, and other improved internet infrastructure, experiential art is now accessible to the average internet user—in places around the globe, across chasms of the digital divide. For the first time, cryptographic technologies are facilitating not only the sale of artworks that fit under the experiential art umbrella but are also enabling artists to create dynamic functionality and establish true provenance. Popular adoption of the blockchain creates a shared community whereby values of trust and mechanisms for connection are baked in. Web3 is the missing piece, the key that unlocks experiential art and opens the doors to near-limitless possibilities for creators.

We think about experiential art in three ways:

1. Interactivity: Does the artwork invite the viewer to actively engage with or influence it or transport the viewer to a different space or mindset? Does the work change over time, or evolve in some way? Does the viewer take an active, rather than passive, role in relationship to the work?


2. Digital Novelty: Does the artwork incorporate multiple forms of media or use unique spatial relationships to create a specific atmosphere, mood, feeling, or effect? Does the work demonstrate excellent or novel use of a specific technology or technical process?


3. Conceptual Depth: Does the artwork show a commitment to a creative rigor around a unique concept or perspective? Does the work demonstrate a critical viewpoint or investigation? Has the artist engaged in an interdisciplinary approach that breaks down binary or static conceptions of art? Are they in dialogue with a wider community or a longer tradition of creative inquiry?


Of course, this is an intentionally general rubric: these criteria are meant to evolve with experimentation and based on the needs of the community. As we continue to explore, make discoveries, and define this burgeoning field, these guideposts will shift, adapt, and some might even transform completely. And we believe that NFTs—really blockchain-enabled technologies in general—will be the vehicle that empowers artists to embark on those explorations.

But why Experiential Art? And why now?

Let’s think about the most familiar kinds of virtual experiences: video games. More than half of the adult population in the United States plays video games. This is staggering, because quantifying participation in this way demonstrates a public investment in experiential online space. It indicates that the worlds of 3D, software-based, and interactive artwork—worlds that were seemingly illegible to the general public—might not actually be so alien. These familiar experiences create a substrate for dynamic, interactive, and spatial digital artwork to attach to. It is even now being suggested that time spent in game space actually improves cognitive development. Really, experiential art is produced as part of a visual and cultural lexicon that is increasingly native to our society. The logic of the ‘metaverse' is no longer relegated to cyber subculture: it is a language of our shared world that has a marked impact on the way we think.

Speaking to that shared world, at Wild, we believe that the future of the internet is a spatial one. We’re leaving behind the days of endless doom-scrolling in 2D point-and-click environments; and moving into an internet that is multi-dimensional, open, and exploratory, where movement, embodiment, and sociality take center stage. We spend so much of our days online—kids ages 8-18 spend 7.5 hours per day on screens for fun (not including time spent online for school or work). Our challenge is to create a shared Web3 world where that time is spent forging rich connections through meaningful online community rooted in stirring art experiences.

And truly, it is a challenge. We’re working at the bleeding edge of a whole host of different technologies. 3D environments on the web are burgeoning and often still face bandwidth and hardware limitations on the user side. There is still an element of friction in navigating between online spaces. Moreover, interactive and dynamic works that change over time based on blockchain functionality are brand new; artists are writing code and implementing their ideas in real-time, and in many cases, for the first time. We don’t have longterm use cases, or worst-case scenario preparedness guides available yet. Things might break, get lost, or not work as they were intended.

Of course, these speed bumps are to be expected. There will be growing pains as artists continue to come to grips with the possibilities that Web3 technologies enable. This is going to be an incremental process, one in which small innovations and best practices snowball, getting better and better over time. We need an ecosystem that incubates that kind of intentional development. Together, we hope to support and develop a growing body of distinctive experiences that coalesce in a future-oriented toward active, enriching, and energizing online life.

Creating and collecting art should not be a unilateral function, gate kept by institutional forces; instead, ideas and feelings should flow in all directions, with access and openness at a foundational community level. Moreover, encounters with digital art should not be static or flattened, but rather as multi-dimensional and expansive as possible. Artists need frameworks, tools, and support to critically engage with the field at a high level. By creating a home for experiential art, we are creating a hub whereby relationships can break down antiquated notions of what art experiences, art markets, and art community, can be.

Take a walk on the Wild side with us. We’re planting the seeds of a new ecosystem that is rooted in shared experiences. Over the next few months, we’ll be compiling a compendium of experiential art built out from conversations that we are having with the other groundbreakers forging ahead. We can’t do it alone: but together, through our shared values and efforts, we can build a future for experiential art beyond your wildest imagination.

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