Ways of viewing and interacting: User experience in a virtual art gallery

Document Type

Book Chapter


Nova Science Publishers


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Exercise and Health Sciences




Anderson, M., Schofield, D. , & Dethridge, L. (2013). Ways of viewing and interacting: User experience in a virtual art gallery. In S. Trautman and F. Julien (Eds.). Virtual environments: Developments, applications and challenges (pp. 79 - 102). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. Original book available here


As computer-driven display technology becomes more powerful and accessible, the online, virtual art gallery may provide a new platform for artists to exhibit their work. Virtual exhibits may afford opportunities for both the artist and the patron to display, view and perhaps purchase various digital art forms. The aim of this chapter is to examine user interaction with digital artworks inside a virtual gallery space along a metric based on a virtuality continuum. The chapterdescribes a number of experiments where users interacted with a virtual art gallery and were then extensively interviewed and surveyed. The gallery is a three-dimensional graphic digital construction within the RMIT University virtual campus in Second Life. Users take on the form of online avatars to access the Second Life online environment and experience various colourful art objects in a simulated gallery environment. The experiment initially employs the taxonomy of Milgram and Kishino (1994) to assist the discussion of real, virtual and mixed-reality media. The chapter describes and delineates the user's navigation of space and compares their perception of art objects in the virtual environment to digital objects in a 'real world' gallery. The data collected in this study provide the basis for a discussion of how the user may perceive and navigate virtual objects and spaces in the virtual art gallery environment. We observe levels of what Manovich (2002) describes as 'immersion' and what Slater (1994) would term 'presence' in relation to the user experience.