Come feast on the fruits of October’s contest
Nothing spurs creativity like a little competition. To see the truth in that, all you need to do is stroll around the seven winning entries from October’s gallery contest. Every victor was rewarded with seven upload codes, but the rest of us get to enjoy something even better: the fruits of their labour.
I hope you like your fruit spicy. Every gallery here is an ode to an individual artist, from the kaleidoscopic medley of Larskristo to the restrained deities of Mohrbacher. These are, genuinely, some of the best virtual spaces I’ve been treated to - so I’m extra glad I got to chat with their designers about how they came to be.
LinkCube exudes elegance. By honing in on the work of Rodrigo Aguilar (or Zapatoverde, as he’s known online)
Linkmyboy has shown what’s possible when you mould a space to suit a particular aesthetic - as long as you have a few tricks up your sleeve.
Cute meets macabre in Aguilar’s monochrome etchings, which surround a chamber lit largely from above. Perfectly placed windows cut the room with shadows, merging each piece with its surroundings while never overwhelming them. It’s all topped off with a short bio and quote from Zapatoverde, cleverly snuck beneath your feet and behind a pane of glass. Not an inch of space feels wasted.
Linkmyboy told me it was all possible thanks to the Gray and Red Sky skybox, which came out at the start of the competition and “really caused the spark of inspiration” that lead to the gallery’s construction. Aspiring shadow artists: take notes.
Nothing screams ‘fever dream’ like the work of Larskristo - or at least, nothing did until Artisan built a temple to him. His gallery provides a psychedelic descent into a crustacean-adorned ocean, with all sorts of demonic creatures to meet along the way. Each lives in a biome of its own: ladybirds and flying eyeballs glide across a multicoloured meadow, Cthulhu strides out from a tentacle-rich sea, and death himself floats aside neon pentagrams. There’s even a semi-secret passage to a hidden woodland deer god.
“I love how each artwork tells a story, and I tried to follow these stories with my gallery”, says Artisan.
Even more impressively, for me, is how the gallery itself tells a sort of story. The chaos becomes more orderly as you descend until you emerge into that ocean and find it complemented by the calm orange glow of ambiguously satanic beasts.
Look into that ocean, though, and you’ll see a trilobite resting in an ocean of its own that spirals out into space, with bubbles blending into planets. Reaching the bottom brings you back to the heavens. Neat.
Do you ever look up at the sky and think, ‘what are all those rotating disks, and why does that one keep flipping back and forth?’ You would if you spent time in Jgs3, where the backdrop frames Robert Delaunay’s art so perfectly you’d be forgiven for thinking it was made for it.
Joelgshot’s gallery may be small, but it feels disproportionately grand. You’re first confronted with a huge canvas, aswirl with vibrant colours and intersected circles - and then you’re confronted with a plunge. You need to jump down into a central glass chamber to reach the bottom floor, where more serendipitously circular art awaits. It’s a clever marriage, in more ways than one.
“The dynamism of a plunge felt really appealing when combined with the motion in the art and sky”, Joel told me, especially once he decided to do away with stairs: “they kept ruining that feeling of floating that I wanted, so I took them out”.
Sounds like a big step up.
Silentvoice is one of those galleries that makes you rethink what Occupy White Walls is capable of. It’s a forest memorial, where black butterflies frozen mid-flight echo the floral prints of Anna Atkins, a 19th Century botanist credited with creating the first book illustrated with photographic images. Red light from an unseen source draws you towards the centerpiece, where a girl pays tribute to a monument she may or may not be a part of.
It’s a strange thing to capture life on a photogram. I’m thinking of Atkins’ contact prints, where she’d press algae and ferns directly onto paper. There’s something wonderfully circular about their digital representation here, inside a moment that itself seems locked in time.
It’s a rare gallery that manages to be both visually and metaphorically striking.
Where the Green Fairy lives
At long last, someone has finally come along and put fairies where they belong: space. Artorius devoted his gallery to Alphonse Mucha, pinning the fantastical Csche painters’ work up against a nebula. You start off on a garden path, weaving between flower-adorned women affixed to wooden pillars. It’s much less grim than it sounds. From there, you ascend a narrow staircase into a treehouse fit for a (minimalist) queen, all the while bathed in green crystalline light.
Artorious told me he wanted to create a gallery that captured “the same feeling of wonder and mystery” that Mucha reveled in, and I’d say he succeeded. Artorious was also kind enough to answer me the biggest enigma of all: what would Mucha say if he knew his work would one day be shown off in a digital space treehouse sitting in the stars?
“He’d probably think I’d had too much absinthe, before walking up to the top level and getting one for himself.”
Triarchy of the lost lovers
Many galleries are full of life, but you won’t find many that pulsate. Segalla has created an exception.
It hosts just three paintings, each centering a god-like automaton. Three other-worldly figures, each in command of their surroundings, each dwarfed inside a towering black and red cathedral. Silver light flows around that cathedral’s contours, as if in worship either of them or from them. I’m not sure who prays to who.
Segalla says he picked out Peter Mohrbacher as an “intelligent digital artist” whose work he admires. He told me he “wanted the focus not only on the works but also on the architecture,” all “to reach the point of ecstasy.” I might not go that far, but it’s a pretty impressive effect.
The Drawing Room
Let’s wrap up with a period piece. Glitteremitter’s Drawing Room offers a refreshing change of pace from the more outlandish galleries on show here, instead artfully recreating a snapshot from a Victorian mansion.
Its walls are bedecked with the work of Viktor Vasnetsov, a Russian neo-romantic with a fondness for depicting the aftermath of battles and disturbingly feminine harpies.
The place wasn’t built for Vasnetsov from the ground up, mind. Glitteremitter told me she first “‘auditioned’ several artists, including Bonnat and Tadema,” before finding that “Vasenetsov's impressively sized pieces, with their scenes from epic Viking sagas and Old World tales, just fit so well!”
The ace up Glittermitter’s sleeve, however, actually sits behind a wall. Poke into the right corner, and you’ll find a little plaque revealing the location of an audio accompaniment, cleverly stitched into a Spotify QR code built from a mosaic. Credit goes to Whitearanha, whose gallery-inspired Glitter back when she first started playing OWW.
You can jump into any of the winning entries by searching for them in-game or just by clicking on them from the featured menu. Merry wandering, and to those about to enter the November competition: we salute you. Good luck!