Helena Milsom

May 1st, 2020 in

As we go into week five of lockdown, you’ve probably tried every conceivable way of filling your time. You may have even picked up a new hobby; becoming a ‘runner’ as a form of escaping your ever-present family members, perfecting the highly coveted art of resisting snacking every ten minutes, or sourcing increasingly ridiculous backgrounds for your Zoom meetings. Whatever has taken your fancy, you’re probably getting bored of that now too. But don’t fear, for we’ve taken a minute to browse the world wide web and source some of the best Digital Design Experiences now available straight from your desk. Whether its touring world-famous museums for free or using AI and VR to create immersive experiences that will make you forget what isolation even is – check out our five best ways to get yourself out of confinement and immersed in something new.

1. Virtual Museum Tours

First on the list is Virtual Museum Tours, but not just British museums, you can tour from Spain to Seoul to  from the comfort of your sofa. The National History Museum in London, The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, The Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Musée d’Orsay in Paris are just a few of the beautiful buildings you can wander around in detail, for free, and blessedly alone! Hour-long queues to get in are a thing of the past. People waving their iPads to take twenty seven blurry photos of the Mona Lisa they will forcibly present to their polite relatives at home, they’re out too. It’s just you and the incredible works of art, with commentary and the option to take as much time as you like looking at some of the most incredible works of art the world has to offer. 

There are even Virtual Exhibitions you can attend, mostly hosted through Google Arts and Culture, which has become an incredible source for everything Art and Design. There are former and new exhibitions that can be accessed, such as the Balenciaga exhibition at the V&A which includes a fascinating history on the brand, the man himself, and how he became a global icon. There are videos, 3D graphics and close up photos of the dresses and design processes, creating a virtual experience that would be difficult to match in real-life.

2. Experiments with Google

Although this sounds a rather intimidating prospect, it’s not actually Google who conducts these experiments, but rather it hosts them on a platform where museums, curators and artists can submit their artistic ‘experiments’ for the public to explore. One of the most fascinating and interactive experiments comes from choreographer Wayne McGregor, who has combined his craft with AI in order to create Living Archive. He has created a 25-year archive of snapshots of motion, created by mapping the movement the human body makes in dance. AI analyses the data and has built ‘phrases of movement’ that can make unprecedented and never-before tried sequences.

This fascinating project and its archive have now been released to the public, with the overriding message being that everybody can make choreography. You can even record your own movements and match them to ones in the archive, making this a fun activity for family and friends to do together. 

3. The Versailles Palace is Yours

Thought VR was just for gaming and confusing your elderly relatives? You were wrong. Last year, gaming platform Steam launched ‘Versailles: The Palace is Yours’, a completely unqiue and innovative way to visit the palace with your VR headset. You can wander alone through the impressive and endless rooms, including the King and Queen’s State Apartments, viewing the beautiful tapestries, intricately painted ceilings, original sculptures and priceless furniture that adorn the palace. If being alone in a French royal palace doesn’t feel tantalising enough for you, there is even an option to visit in night mode, where you can wander round guided by the warm light of lit fireplaces.  

There is accompanying music and narration for each room, that will explain the history of the palace and significant pieces, and it comes with options to listen in English, French and Simplified Chinese. It’s also completely free, with the only catch being that you need your own VR headset. That can be quite a price to pay, but with VR becoming more widely available, and with more exciting and immersive experiences being created, it may just become one of the best ways to experience the world from your living room.

4. Experience the Big Bang Up-Close

If the outside world is feeling a little far away at the moment, what better way to get away than to go into space. Although you have to get there using your phone, you do get to travel with the narration of Tilda Swinton, and it’s not just a spectating activity. The interactive Big Bang AR app lets you take a mesmerising journey through space and time, back 13.8 billion years to discover the origins of the universe. 

You can create atoms and particles, trigger a supernova, and even make stars explode, all through your screen (we got very strong Thanos vibes). It’s a fascinating way to see how our solar system came together and its pretty inclusive, with an option for subtitles, available as both iOS and Android apps, and it’s absolutely free! There is almost no reason not to download it, and to bring the world outside closer than ever before. 

5. Explore Famous Paintings in HD

Ever wandered through an Art Gallery and had a weird urge to touch the paintings? You wouldn’t be the only one, and with Art Camera you can now get closer than ever before. Granted, you can’t actually touch anything, but the High Definition shots of the world’s most famous works of art lets you closer than you could ever be in real life. You can see brushstrokes, individual blades of grass, and even zoom in to reflections in the eyes of figures, details that the artist may have taken painstaking hours to depict, and ones that we don’t ever even notice.

There are favourites such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, and Claude Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond, all with captions that explain what you are looking at, and that reveal hidden details, interesting facts about the piece and the artist and even suggestions on interpretations of the work. So if you felt like you were missing out on the world of Arts and Culture whilst stuck at home, this is a great way to get closer than you may be able to in reality, and learn more about pieces that you haven’t had the chance to see before. 

So, we’ve covered five unique and fascinating experiences that are all available online now for you to get your digital design fix in isolation. Although it’s a tough world out there at the moment (or inside more specifically) there are still ways to explore and experience new things right from your screen. All the things we’ve curated are free, pretty exciting, and amazingly innovative, especially if you’ve never had the chance to really explore the outer echelons of space or a King’s Palace before. Furthermore, these things are here to stay. So even after we’re let back out into the big, bad, and creative world, we can still choose to stay at home and enjoy a virtual one that can be as creative and captivating as the one outside. Thanks Google.