Toledo Museum of Art offers viewers new experience of artist Stan Douglas’ film Doppelgänger in the metaverse
On Dec. 9, 2021, the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) launched Doppelgänger in Decentraland, an immersive new facet of artist Stan Douglas’ acclaimed film on the metaverse platform Decentraland.org. Doppelgänger (2019), which is on view at the Toledo Museum of Art through May 15, 2022, has evolved into a digital dimension in the metaverse, enabling audiences to unlock a novel experience of the artist’s visionary work.
Avatars in Decentraland are able to teleport into Doppelgänger and the spaces where critical parts of the film’s narrative unfold. Just as Doppelgänger is inspired by science fiction, the metaverse allows audiences to think beyond physical limitations and imagine new possibilities. Doppelgänger in Decentraland was produced in partnership with the artist, creative development studio Parameta and metaverse building firm Polygonal Mind.
“We at the Toledo Museum of Art believe it is important to engage emerging experiential opportunities in the digital realm, responding to the shifting currents of contemporary art, culture and technology,” said Adam M. Levine, TMA’s Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director and CEO. “With multiple points of entry and diverse approaches to storytelling, Stan Douglas’s work ideally lent itself to expand the definitions of materiality and experimentation with this bold new frontier for art-making and participation.”
Doppelgänger follows an astronaut named Alice who embarks on a solitary outer space mission. When Alice’s ship unexpectedly turns around, she presumes she has returned to Earth, but instead she arrives at another realm, the exact reverse of her true home. In one version, Alice is welcomed and provided support upon her return, while in the other Alice is received as a potential hostile threat.
A non-profit owned collectively by its users, Decentraland is a virtual world using the Ethereum blockchain, where visitors can attend events such as concerts or art exhibitions as avatars, interact and purchase digital real estate as NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
Doppelgänger in Decentraland may be found at www.decentraland.org on a computer by plugging in the coordinates 46, -50 or jumping directly to https://play.decentraland.org/?island=I2fgmq&position=47%2C-49&realm=dg. (The site will not work on mobile devices.) Visitors can also find Doppelgänger on the Events Board at Genesis Plaza to enter. Anyone with a computer and internet can experience Decentraland as a guest. For the full Doppelgänger in Decentraland experience, users will need a digital wallet: https://metamask.io/
Device specs to optimize the Decentraland experience may be found here:
Once in Doppelgänger in Decentraland, avatars are immersed in a starfield as seen in the film, then teleport into, and move in and out of its architectural and cosmological spaces, including the meticulously detailed observation room, Alice’s examination room and mission control. The complex narrative arc is revealed in layers, transitioning between the two versions and rewarding multiple viewings. Unlike other projects on Decentraland, Doppelgänger features a high-quality sound component that imparts an even greater sense of dimensionality to the scenes.
Doppelgänger employs science fiction as a prompt to understand the temporal intersections and simultaneous realities that exist in our present. Alice’s return, one as a benevolent earthly citizen and another as a potentially dangerous alien, alludes to the heightened debates around citizenship and homelands, such as the reception of immigrants and refugees, as well as the systemic exclusion and oppression of marginal communities. The continual mirroring and sense of displacement throughout the film echoes many people’s experiences during the current pandemic. For those able to stay at home, individuals are constantly observing their own visages and conducting their lives mediated through a virtual screen. As the world enters subsequent phases of this pandemic, society finds itself confronting a new, unknown reality.
“We hope that visitors to Doppelgänger on Decentraland will come away with an enhanced understanding of the film and its relevance, before or after viewing the film installation at TMA, but the virtual offering is also designed to be a stand-alone experience for broader audiences,” said Jessica Hong, TMA’s curator of modern and contemporary art.
TMA’s installation is the first North American museum presentation of Doppelgänger, which premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2019. Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Douglas’ work has been exhibited at prominent venues worldwide. He will represent Canada at the 2022 Venice Biennale.
The film at the Toledo Museum of Art and the metaverse experience of Doppelgänger is supported by season sponsor ProMedica with local support from presenting sponsors Susan and Tom Palmer and the Ohio Arts Council.