The Zium Garden is a new digital museum of high-tech art. On September 14th this year, a group by the name of The Zium Collective released an a “new kind of tech-oriented zine,” The Zium Garden, for free download on itch.io.
It holds art from some 57 artists or studios, each featured in their own curated segment of virtual space for you to explore at your leisure. It is a glowing example of a new kind of museum experience that might dominate our futures: one where we are free to experience art at our own pace, without crowds, and even without pants on.
Created and curated by Michael Berto with the help of Quinn Spence, Ivan Notaros, Veronica Graham, Richard Walsh, and Gigoia studios, The Zium Garden presents itself by proposing a new term for a new idea. Their twitter biography reads:
zium / noun / informal:
1. a virtual gallery game, composed of eclectic and wonderful things.
2. (kind of like a zine, but the museum version)
Their garden represents that definition in practice – a kind of noncommercial publication of specialized, and even obscure artistic content. It’s actually their second production, an immediate successor to January 4th’s The Zium Museum (2017), which features installations from over 37 different artists in a very similar format to Garden. The two experiences share an open gallery setting because Zium and its creators understand the dormant power of the digital museum, and are ready to stick to their guns as a forerunner to what might very likely become a major artistic movement in this age of virtual and augmented reality.
Advancing technologies are only now starting to push museums to compete against them, but physical spaces face slim odds against the advantages of their virtual counterparts. Physical museums are notorious for their long lines, pricey admissions, and tendency to exhibit art and history in a way that asks for preemptive knowledge from their patrons, so if they continue showing their content out of chronological, or even logical order, they will eventually find themselves without victims to their overpriced cafeteria food. In an age where all of the information and visual splendor in the world can be found at our fingertips, physical museums might find themselves becoming an increasingly obtuse and outdated convention.
Enter the virtual museum. There is little to nothing that a physical museum can offer that a virtual one can’t, because the essential museum experience is very simple, though lacking in chairs and closing much too early in the day. In comparison, the virtual gallery is extremely cheap to produce and maintain compared to its physical counterparts, and more importantly, it can be accessed by anyone around the globe, 24/7. These digital spaces may even allow you to break the laws of physics in order to appreciate its pieces better, flying around them, zooming infinitely close to them, and possibly warping into dimensions exclusively intended for each artifact. Garden is a powerful spotlight shining on some of the brightest technologically conversant artists of this time, who might never have gotten a chance to be seen otherwise.
The Zium Garden is a work of unique artistic democratization made by creators who are well aware of its advantages. They put their best feet forward in offering its patrons a new word for a phenomenon that might soon take shape. Zium; the virtual museum.