The Art Angle Podcast: What Is the Metaverse? And Why Should the Art World Care?

Three experts lead us down the rabbit hole of a future reality.

Cao Fei, Live in RMB City, (2009). Courtesy the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join us every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more, with input from our own writers and editors, as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.



Have you ever wanted to live a different kind of life, in a different kind of place? What if this other place gave you the power to do or be almost anything you wanted, anywhere you wanted, anytime you wanted? Suppose that what you could build there, and who you could be there, had nothing to do with your finances. Not even the laws of physics would hold you back.

If you wanted to be the monarch of a Gothic castle perched on a cloud suspended above a Nordic woodland, you could have that. You could even do it in a new body, under a new name, with neither one having any apparent connection to your physicality or your past.

Even wilder, this other place would welcome millions of other individuals with just as much freedom as you, so that you could all build this new world together. You could form new relationships, establish new traditions, and experience a new wave of art and culture held back by nothing but artists imaginations.

Doesnt that sound wonderful?

Sara Ludy, Swimmer's Canyon (2022). Courtesy of the artist.

Sara Ludy, Swimmer’s Canyon (2022). Courtesy of the artist.

Well, billions of dollars and untold hours of labor are being pumped into making this fantasy a realityan immersive digital reality. And some of the most influential and most powerful people in the world are saying it will be called the metaverse.

But what is the metaverse, exactly? How has it elbowed its way deep enough into the mainstream that your retired parents are asking you about it? And what does it mean for the art world specifically

This week on the Art Angle, business editor and The Gray Market scribe Tim Schneider is joined by three experts to help make sense of this potential new world order: Wagner James Au, the author of The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World (2008) and the forthcoming book Why the Metaverse Matters: From Second Life to Meta and Beyond, A Guide By Its First Embedded Journalist and the ongoing blog, New World Notes; Tina Rivers Ryan, a curator of modern and contemporary art at the Buffalo AKG Museum in New York, who has organized exhibitions including “Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art“; and Sara Ludy, an artist and composer based in Placetas, New Mexico whose current exhibition, “Swimmer’s Canyon,” is on view at  Art Mûr in Montréal, Canada.


Listen to other episodes:

The Art Angle Podcast: Why Artist Jayson Musson Is Clowning a Humorless Art World

The Art Angle Podcast: What Does the Future of NFTs Look Like Now?

The Art Angle Podcast: Re-Air: Art, Lies, and Instagram: How Catfishing ‘Collectors’ Duped the Art World

The Art Angle Podcast: How Kennedy Yanko Welded Her Way to Art Stardom

The Art Angle Podcast: How Documenta Became the World’s Most Controversial Art Show

The Art Angle Podcast: The Scandalous Rise and Fall of Art Dealer Inigo Philbrick

The Art Angle Podcast: How Artificial Intelligence Could Completely Transform Art

The Art Angle Podcast: Want to Wear a Basquiat? Inside the Big Business of Artist Merch

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