Blurring boundaries: Journey into digital art exhibitions

Technology reshapes artistic creation, exhibition, and communication. A new generation of creators know this and are exploring innovative ways to fuse physical and virtual experiences. Korean artist and curator Sangmin Park leverages 3D graphics and cloud rendering to stage engaging metaverse exhibitions through his initiative called Meatball and Meshed Potatoes (MaMP).

Initially focused on traditional sculpture and installation art, Sangmin’s practice has steadily incorporated emerging tools and developments in 3D modeling, game engines, and distributed computing. Propelled by the pandemic’s impact on physical venues, his virtual exhibition hall MaMP offers a glimpse into art’s digitally enhanced future.

We sat down with the Seoul National University MFA student to learn about his artistic journey, adoption of new technologies, and outlook on digital art’s expanding role.

From physical space to virtual place

Blurring boundaries: Journey into digital art exhibitions
Credit: Shin Dong Hyun Solo Exhibition “About Life”

Sangmin first became involved with exhibition planning and staging while completing his BFA in the late 2010s. But once COVID-19 hit, limiting public gatherings and access to traditional venues, he felt compelled to explore alternatives.

“Since COVID-19, I started studying computer graphics to produce works on behalf of physical work,” Sangmin explains. “In the process of learning 3D graphics, I realized I could produce a variety of outcomes beyond the original purpose, and I started dealing with digital media more as I was looking for ways to use 3D art for various works.

This foray into CGI led Sangmin to launch MaMP in 2021 as a way to mount virtual exhibitions no longer constrained by the material limitations of physical sites. MaMP serves as an online art space rendered in 3D, showcasing experimental and digital works through detailed photographic depictions and videos.

Sangmin elaborates on the virtual venue’s capabilities: “MaMP plans a virtual exhibition by recreating a specific area or space that actually exists in real life, remodeling a building or space into a 3D graphic exhibition hall, implementing the works of various artists in 3D graphics and displaying them in a real exhibition hall.

By digitally recreating the look and feel of a professional gallery, MaMP provides artists with an innovative exhibition platform and viewers a new way to experience artworks through imaginative virtual walkthroughs.

Reimagining sculpture through digital materiality

As Sangmin immersed himself in CGI tools to bring MaMP online, his perspective on art production also evolved. What began purely as a means to an end became an exciting medium with unique affordances.

“Originally I wanted to use 3D graphics to plan an exhibition or draw sketches producing works, but in the process of learning 3D graphics, I realized I could produce a variety of outcomes beyond the original purpose,” he says.

Sangmin started incorporating 3D elements directly into his sculptural practice by creating Yuna Song’s “A Cicada Nymph Doesn't Fall off the Roof for no Reason” which clung to and interacted with forms generated by 3D model repositories like Sketchfab. This experimental approach blurs the line between physical objects and digital artifacts, requiring viewers to rethink assumptions around materiality.

Discussing a recent exhibit featuring parasitic sculptures, Sangmin notes: “In this Yuna Song’s exhibition, parasitic sculptures do not faithfully reflect the original meaning of host works or proverbs. Rather, the result becomes more interesting as more absurd interpretations are involved away from the original meaning.”

By intentionally misconstruing and remixing source 3D assets, his work highlights the mutable nature of objects in virtual space. The resulting hybrid artworks appear physically tangible yet digitally malleable.

Powered by the cloud

To render detailed 3D scenes and explorable spaces for MaMP’s online exhibitions, Sangmin taps into cloud computing services like GarageFarm to augment his local workstation. The ability to offload intensive rendering tasks to remote servers has been a game changer.

“In the past, while producing short CG video as a part-time job, I realized that I could not complete rendering in time with just my computer and desperately looked for a solution,” he recalls. “GarageFarm's High Priority rendering allowed me to complete the task in time, and I've been using it steadily ever since.

Access to scalable computational power in the cloud has been instrumental in realizing Sangmin’s artistic visions. When rendering thousands of randomized camera angles to mimic real gallery documentation, the collective might of distributed cloud infrastructure makes light work of massive rendering jobs.

When I rendered still images, it seems to be solved mainly by personal computers, but when shooting still shots of MaMP's recent exhibition, thousands of random still images were rendered by randomly setting the location, weather, and time zone of the camera on the 3D program. When doing this task, we used render farm even if it was still images.

By unleashing the cloud’s potential, Sangmin can focus more time on creative exploration rather than waiting for local computing tasks to finish.

Pushing digital art’s boundaries

Blurring boundaries: Journey into digital art exhibitions
Credit: Dasul Kim “Grasping the Digital”, MaMP

As virtual venues like MaMP become more mainstream, Sangmin believes digital art and 3D data will take on greater perceived value as new exhibition models highlight their strengths.

“I think the biggest change is that the “value” that people think about 3D digital data will change,” he predicts. “So far, if 3D data in people's perception has been merely a "process" or "sketch" to create something, in the metaverse era, 3D data will become a "result" and "original" in itself.”

Just as physical artwork carries inherent value as an original, Sangmin envisions 3D creations will be valued as artifacts in their own right as virtual worlds expand. The coming wave of immersive digital experiences through AR, VR and mixed reality will only broaden 3D art’s appeal and cement its cultural significance.

But even as technology reshapes artistic practices, some barriers persist. As a pioneering adopter navigating uncharted waters, Sangmin has encountered challenges transitioning between the physical and virtual.

“In the beginning, I lacked information and knowledge about detailed settings, and it was a little difficult because I didn't know much terminology,” he admits. Still, Sangmin persevered through trial and error, finding creative ways to adapt emerging tools to his vision.

The journey continues

For Sangmin, the quest to push creative boundaries drives continual exploration of new media like CGI, 3D graphics, and interactive simulations. But rather than abandoning traditional art forms, he seeks to fuse physical and digital, blending material worlds with virtual possibilities.

His message for other artists is simple: “I think that the role and weight of digital art will be increasingly expanded in the field of fine art. In particular, as computer specifications become better and more popular, I think there will be more amateur and professional artists creating digital media.

As technology progressively empowers individual creators, Sangmin encourages artists to retain their unique visions while embracing the new. By leveraging tools like 3D applications and cloud rendering, artists can bring imaginative virtual exhibitions to life, share their work in innovative ways, and pioneer art's digital future.

Check out MaMP’s work here:

MaMP webpage :


Sangmin’s webpage :

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