Published Jun 04, 2020As badly as Canada's arts scenes have been hit by coronavirus lockdown, communities keep finding new ways to push forward: from Side Door's ticketed livestreams to online film festivals to drive-in concerts, there's no shortage of innovation taking place. In keeping with this forward-thinking spirit, Vancouver's Cyber Warehouse is bringing a gallery space to an online environment.
Cyber Warehouse was founded by roommates Sam Herle (of the band Elf Pity) and Brodie Anderson-Pilon — the former an illustrator and comic artist, the latter with a focus in 3D modelling and video game design. They began working on the project a few weeks into quarantine, and now it's online and ready to explore.
Unlike the sterile walls of so many brick-and-mortar art galleries, Cyber Warehouse takes visual inspiration from cartoons and early 2000s chat rooms. "We aren't attempting to recreate an art gallery or venue so much as build an interactive landscape where art can be exhibited," Herle tells Exclaim! "We've included a few little Easter eggs for people to find, and while Cyber Warehouse is relatively small right now, it's growing with every exhibition that we host. We also have some collaborations coming up with various collectives and small galleries who aren't able to host events or shows in the real world right now, and it's been really fun to see what they come up with and work together to build something that they're happy with."
Cyber Warehouse isn't quite like a traditional gallery space, but it's also distinct from your average online art collection that you might find on Instagram. With a starry background and pixelated GIF elements, it borrows aesthetic elements from early Geocities sites and turn-of-the-millennium CD-ROM video games. Using controls to navigate though the rooms, visitors can browse through an array of exhibits, from Haley Perry's surrealist images to Jesse Dekel's politically charged cartoon collages to Darren Wright's psychedelic digital abstractions.
Not only does Cyber Warehouse display art exhibits, the gallery itself is a beautiful, playful piece of art. Even as lockdown restrictions lift and real-life galleries begin to reopen, Herle says that Cyber Warehouse will continue to grow and become increasingly ambitious. Currently, the gallery is accepted submissions for the themes "internet art" and "horror/occult."
"Even when actual venues and art spaces reopen I think it will still function as a showcase for artists, specifically art that's cyber-specific," Herle says. "We also plan on expanding to create a room for musicians and performers to livestream their performances in, and incorporating chat rooms so that viewers can communicate!"
Check out a few images from Cyber Warehouse below. See it for yourself at cyb3rwarehouse.com.