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Re-Imagining the Digital Diorama

By Stefan Wharton


Stefan Wharton





Re-Imagining the Digital Diorama is a reflection on the scope of online platforms in relation to the differing needs and desires of artists and cultural organisations. Compiled by freelance producer and curator Stefan Wharton (Sonic Acts), on the back of conversations with artists, institutions, designers and technicians, it is a condensed account of some of the varied practices, challenges and solutions that are characterising online cultural activities during the current period.

Of course, a host of sites have long been exhibiting digital art in its native format and experimenting with online platforms as a means to bring about shared aesthetic experiences among networked audiences. At the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, however, the online presence of most artists and cultural institutions primarily existed as descriptive byproducts of their physical activities. By necessity, many of these sites have now sought to become dynamic web spaces, integrating interactive video, animation and simulation, multi-player game and teleconferencing tools, to stage digital and hybrid programmes and facilitate social gatherings around online events.

This resource – part of a larger investigation that set out before the coronavirus outbreak to explore the potential of digital and media spaces – considers a range of material and aesthetic parameters, as well as the potential of the interface in re-imagining the basis of the artistic encounter. As a survey of some of the many development tools and services that are available – from streaming tech to game engines and platforms for locative experiences – it also hopes to act as a springboard to different configurations and to further questioning the structures, systems and standards that are evolving.

Re-Imagining the Digital Diorama was supported by Creative Industries Fund NL.

Image Courtesy of the author

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