Holographic art, NFTs, and game mods in Denver offer serious fun

Ray Kallmeyer hurried into the center of a former Victoria’s Secret store last week, grabbing a trio of ice-cold lattes while the dance music rumbled over his head. Around him, two dozen people in HoloLen’s 2 headsets examined 3D images that could only be seen through semi-transparent eyepieces.

“It’s opening day, so we’re trying to get some of the 420 people to drop by and experience it for free,” the 37-year-old said of Verse, an NFT gallery that opened in the Denver Pavilions on April 20. Less than five blocks away, tens of thousands of people celebrated Denver’s legal marijuana cultivation on the grounds of the Civic Center. “It really is for everyone, though.”

When Kallmeyer handed out drinks at the cafe, his staff barked at passers-by to get a free taster at the gallery. After the grand opening, admission now costs anywhere from $ 20 (just to get in, but without a helmet) to $ 89 (all perks plus an NFT to take home). The typical experience lasts about half an hour.

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) or secure digital media files purchased and stored online are part of a suite of buzzwords that have recently hijacked technology, business, art and media – including metaverse, cryptocurrency and blockchain. These rapidly evolving digital systems and currencies like Bitcoin and Ether may seem mysterious to the average person, but Kallmeyer avoids all of this.

If you need to

NFT Worm Gallery. Open from noon to 10pm Wednesday and Thursday; 12: 30-22: 00 Friday and Saturday; 10: 30-18: 00 Sunday at 500 16th Street Mall. Tickets cost between $ 20 and $ 85 per person. versenftcryptoart.com/denver

Electric game box. 11.00-21.00 Tuesday to Thursday; 10.00-22.00 Friday and Saturday; 11-21 Sunday. $ 9 to $ 30 per person. 825 Albion St. electricgamebox.com/locations/co-denver

“I do not know how the bank works for me to withdraw money in an ATM,” he said. “But I do not have to do it to use it. What this (NFT Gallery) does is transform worlds of collecting and creating art.

It needs to be seen, but about $ 174 million has been spent on NFTs since November 2017, according to Forbes, so the market to see and collect them is real. And yet, Verse’s 30-minute experience is just the latest in a metro area that is suddenly filled with augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and web3 (or blockchain and crypto) activity.

They typically fall within the meta-verse – or the shared 3D realm, which is made possible by increasingly affordable hardware and robust Wi-Fi. They overlap sharply with immersive entertainment and may in fact soon run it, said Laura Davis, general manager of Electric Gamebox.

As Wired magazine recently pointed out, video games have been doing what metaverse promises for decades. And virtual reality in particular has been “on the verge of happening” for over 20 years.

“It’s always a little hard to get too excited,” said David Thomas, co-founder of Immersive Denver. “At the same time, technology is slowly catching up. … And in short series, full VR can be fun.

This is not how it works at the British Electric Gamebox, which opened its first location in Denver on Tuesday, April 19 at 9 + CO, as the company hopes to become the augmented reality version of a karaoke club.

For $ 9 to $ 30 per. person, depending on the day and date, groups of up to six can play cooperative or competitive games while wearing visors that turn their bodies into game controllers (f. Games are mapped on touch walls in each private game pod.

As with the Meow Wolf Denver Convergence Station, or the traveling exhibits of Vincent van Gogh and Frida Kahlo who visited here, Mile High City has become a crucial marketplace for the debut and testing of immersive high-tech concepts.

Annie Phillips’ IRL Art, an NFT gallery at 2601 Walnut St., has been popularizing NFTs especially since the late 2010s; a new metavers-focused show called “Architek” was launched there on March 25th. Phillips also helped host ETHDenver, an event called the “Encryption Currency Super Bowl” in February, amid other local NFT groups such as the Galatik gang (member Chris Dyer is in the current set-up of Verse).

TDP Z Metaverse2022 02
This promotional image shows the main bridge at the Verse NFT Art Gallery in Denver, where visitors go to buy tickets and rent VR headsets. The location, now open in the Denver Pavilions, is only the second in the United States (provided by Dunn Communications)

Night Lights Denver, which hosts works of art projected at the Daniels & Fischer Clocktower in the center, added a 3D layer to its lineup in December with ChromaDepth glasses. On the big design page, Denver will on August 31 see the long-delayed world premiere of Talking Head frontman David Byrne and author Mala Gaonkar’s “Theater of the Mind,” an immersive new show that promises dramatic technology and pioneering. -assisted exploration of our inner life.

Large and small virtual-physical hybrid shows – such as the Visible Cell Carrier’s Red Rocks experiences in September 2020 – and virtual reality-assisted art installations such as “No Place to Go” and “Zotto” are also popping up. Oscar winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu also opened the nationwide tour in his gripping and glorious VR experience, “Carne y Arena,” at Aurora’s Stanley Market in 2020.

Coming soon: Boulder’s Bitsbox and its $ 30,000 Kickstarter campaign for Craftsy, a metaverse for kids who teach world building and coding. In May, new Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson plans to drop an energy drink / NFT hybrid project (we are also confused) called Local Weather.

Kallmeyer, CEO of Verse’s parent company, Enklu, said Denver was only the gallery’s second location, although a New York version will soon open, followed by other U.S. and international galleries.

“It’s almost as if this space is made for us,” Verse project manager Beth Cloutier said Wednesday as she examined the empty wooden cabinets where bras and underwear hung. “What sets Denver apart from San Francisco is that we have specific themes in this show. Right now I’m in the fashion room. Opposite is the Solar Punk space, which looks like cyberpunk but is optimistic.

Denver’s Verse Gallery also features local artists (like Android Jones) and women (San Francisco did not have the latter), thanks to partnerships with local art galleries and the efforts of Debra Nipp and Reid Butler, based in San Francisco. . It was crypto investors who cured about half of Verse Denver’s opening week stories.

TDP Z imadali electric game box 1
Garrett Lesch, assistant general manager, and Keshone Lowe, supervisor, test the touch function in a game box to demonstrate a game at Electric Gamebox’s new location in Denver on Friday, April 8, 2022. (Eli Imadali / Special to The Denver Post)

“We’re trying to bring under-represented and younger artists into the (digital) space, because when we came out of Verse San Francisco, we said, ‘There are no women on these walls …’,” Nipp said, standing next to of. to Butler on Wednesday.

Nipp, an NFT artist himself, founded Womxn + Crypto (womxncrypto.xyz). She said Verse Kallmeyer “immediately loved the idea that we should help fill the walls of this gallery.”

So what does art look like in a holographic gallery? Colorful, wavy shapes and 2D images seen through the headset, some of which are psychedelic-animated, include giant horses, abstract sculptures, cartoon-like portraits and dancers. Geometric globes and QR codes replace artist statements, and much of the art is on sale for $ 25 apiece. The space is secured by Non Plus Ultra, which also finds locations for exhibitions such as ‘Immersive Van Gogh’, ‘The Art of Banksy’ and ‘Museum for Black Girls’.

Leave a Comment