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Street Art Collection with a VR Twist

Street Art Museum Amsterdam team has been busy for the last 2 years exploring and experimenting with creating Virtual Reality (VR) video experiences for archiving and documenting our collection with the help of equally innovative partners. SAMA has now begun production of two Virtual Reality experiences – one documenting production of the twenty-meter-tall monumental mural Memories, by Colombian artist, Bastardilla, and the other is a short teaser mimicking SAMA's tour through the street art works in our collection.

As we push through the growing pains of learning how to create VR experiences – and trying to understand the power and diverse applications VR can have – we’re looking forward to exploration, experimentation and understanding how we can use VR technology to expand our social and educational impact, and pull SAMA into the future. SAMA is excited to use VR to put itself at the forefront of new heritage preservation strategies and share our resources and expertise with partner institutions, while increasing accessibility and pushing the boundaries of what museums are, and the impacts they can have in local communities.

We are encountering challenges but finding exciting solutions to overcome them. We are learning that we can’t design a Virtual Reality experience in the linear narrative format that we are familiar with in two-dimensional video. We’re also learning that, in 360 video, the noise of the city, the monumental size of many of the pieces in our collection, the wind, rain and people moving through the community produce an incredibly powerful impact in VR that creates an immersiveness and authenticity entirely unachievable through video or photographic documentation. Always striving to respect the interactive and ephemeral grit fundamental to the legitimacy of a street art museum, we are learning to pull the chaos of the city into VR video to reward viewers with an interactive encounter of the size, diversity, detail, and vulnerability of our collection in as true a state as is possible, warts and all – as graffiti is meant to be.

SAMA is eager to celebrate the launch of our two current VR experiences at We Make the City Festival 2019, running from June 17th-23rd. Building on the popularity of the free weekend tours SAMA hosted at We Make the City 2018, we’re expanding our participation this year beyond weekend tours to hosting an installation space for Dutch poet Johanna de Haan and showing our VR experiences at Impact HUB’s Heroes & Friends presentation on June 20th, at Impact Hub, in the building of Tropenmuseum. The highlight of the festival for Street Art Museum Amsterdam will be releasing our VR experiences and hosting a conference about our process: what we’ve learned, and the applications we believe community museums can adopt for VR documentation and preservation, at Parool Theatre, located at the Student Hotel on June 21st; both the Impact HUB and Parool Theatre presentations will be held at 19:30 on their respective days.

Until we release our two current VR experiences, SAMA will continue working to fulfill its vision of bringing together digital technology, art, and cultural heritage, to develop strategies for using art as a tool that will impact not just the local community and tourists, but reach a global audience. SAMA is working hard at the grassroots level with local knowledge and the help of partners like Impact HUB and Mediacollege Amsterdam, but is also busy seeking help in documenting our full collection in VR through subsidies, private funding and technological support. Within five years, we aim to document more than two hundred pieces in our collection through VR and gift the digital archive to the city of Amsterdam for its 750th birthday in 2025.

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