Art Box was a completely innovative first of it's kind project that began in 2009. For the next 5 years, some 80 great works were recreated inside a virtual environment. Then the users were not only able to step into the canvas to enter into and explore that canvas (or photograph) from the inside, it also encouraged visitors to participate in the scenes and become part of the art themselves.
Elizabeth Broun, Director of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art was one of the first to pick up on Art Box and was a passionate advocate for this project. She says;
“The images are innovative, compelling and even beautiful in the way that they are intended to be, as homage to the original masters. I understand that a great deal of technical sophistication underpins work of this quality.
Inspiring creativity lies at the heart of what Art Box is about, and
is achieving. Engaging with individuals whose cultural life would not
normally embrace regular encounters with art - fine or contemporary, and
eliciting an appreciation and awarenes of that art in a setting that is both
fun and memorable will leave a legacy of cultural enrichment that will last
a lifetime. Similarly, engaging with established art lovers in a new and innovative environment can provoke fresh insights and a re-evaluation of established dogmas about what art is and it's role in the life of the individual and the community. The potential of Art Box to impact positively upon knowledge, creativity, and creative collaboration is unlimited.”
In total some 80 works of art were re-imagined and recreated in a digital setting. The environment chosen was part of a massive multiplayer system which made it possible to encourage real people, via their avatars, to inhabit the roles of the central characters in famous (and not so famous) artworks. In this way it becomes possible to re-style, re-interpret and re-make great art, according to your own vision. The work could be experienced fully immersively using the Occulous Rift or via a standard monitor. The results were then available as digital photographs which were taken away and used by the (verified 47,782) participants in countless ways, from online identities to customised phone cases.
In a final phase, the virtual was bought into the physical world as a video installation which was shown at several art fairs and festivals in London. Today it remains available online in both interactive (OSGrid) and passive (Youtube) forms.