The Crypt opened its digital doors on the 23rd of August inviting art lovers around the globe to explore six NFT-based exhibitions from the comfort of their own homes. The online environment is accessible from a desktop browser, or mobile phone, and features controls reminiscent of a first-person video game.
The main hub is presented as a blank white atrium, with only a signpost, and numbers on the ramps leading to the 12 available floors. Purposefully minimal, this space feels clinically clean and strikingly lonely. It is clear from the combination of stark white colour scheme and light flooding in from above, that this space draws inspiration from the familiar aesthetics of museum architecture. The space creates an air of reflection (emphasised by the sound of footsteps and droning music as you maneuver the structure) and serves as an out-of-this-world liminal space between exhibition rooms.
Each exhibition is housed on a separate floor and requires entering a portal into a new room. From here the exhibition space functions similarly to a physical gallery, featuring works of art curated around a particular theme. One major difference, however, is that all works of art are available to purchase as NFT’s meaning an attendee can buy the blockchain of the digital art if they so wish.
The exhibition rooms are explored in the same first-person environment, and each piece of art is featured alongside a plaque giving the title and a short description of the work. Despite being rendered in the 3D environment, each piece is displayed in high quality, but if you want to get a better look you can click on the piece itself to orient the camera and bring up the listing and description.
One of the advantages of exhibiting works in a virtual environment is that the spaces aren’t limited to physical constraints and can be highly stylised. While some exhibitions stick to the classic white rooms popular in physical galleries, I believe the Crypt is at it’s best when it is pushing the boundaries of the exhibition space.
While the white walls approach has its merits, the exhibitions that had the biggest impression on me were the ones that brought something new to the table. Flashback by Signalnoise is set in a blacked-out room with neon blues, pinks, and oranges, complementing the colour scheme of the art on display, and immersing the viewer in a retro vaporwave world.
Overall, The Crypt is an easy to use, and exciting development in the presentation of virtual art collections. That being said, there are very few exhibitions to explore at the moment, and the uninspired presentation of the majority of collections leaves a lot to be desired in a virtual platform with so much potential for unique aesthetic exploration.