After dabbling in curated Bitsy exhibitions, Pittsburgh indie collective LIKELIKE have brought a new show to their low-res gallery. The Online Museum of Multiplayer Art opened its doors last night, a collection of social experiments and collaborative folk rituals. If the last exhibition captured the feeling of discovering hidden gems on a convention floor, this week's gallery encourages you to finally strike up a conversation with your fellow visitors.
An Itsy Bitsy Crisis was a curated collection - the works of many different Bitsy authors placed in context with each other, frequently ejecting you from the museum to check out a free lil' Bitsy in another tab. In the OMoMA, though, the virtual space is itself both the art and the game.
Each room of the OMoMA has its own conceit - whether it's the communal poetry of The Rhyme Room, or adaptive conversations in a hallway that censors words that have already been said. There's the sitcom-improv of the Roleplay Room, a reflective Mirror Room, an exclusive VIP space that only allows three visitors in and once.
And then there's The Dark Room...
Reader, I did not engage with The Dark Room. Oh, sure, I stepped inside. My pixellated eye caught those of a stranger in the low light. But this is an NSFW experience and I am, quite decisively, at work.
I was lucky enough during this week's visit to come across other tour groups. OMoMA is so much more reliant on the presence of others than An Itsy Bitsy Crisis, and understandably wouldn't quite work without other visitors. With them, though, and the concept of a digitally-realised social space is achieved in full. Even without the games, I found myself standing with strangers outside the museum doors - discussing how Covid-19 has affected our lives, how we're spending our weekends, and looking at the rad cat on the museum's exterior mural.
But the reception to Itsy Bitsy did, at least, cement the idea of regular little exhibitions as a solid step for a collective regaining its footing during the pandemic. LIKELIKE claim the last exhibition brought "thousands" of visitors to their pixellated halls, and plan to keep updating their little corner of the internet for more experimental shows.
"What started as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic is now turning into an unprecedented expansion of our institution in terms of assets and mission. While our signature mid-brow game shows will continue as scheduled, we are adding a series of high profile acquisitions in the new spaces carved out of our easily gentrifiable virtual neighbourhood.
"We hope you’ll appreciate our commitment to transform this local D.I.Y. arcade into a world-class art museum."
As before, The Online Museum Of Multiplayer Art can be visited through your browser, no admittance required.