Digital smugglers have lifted the National Gallery in London’s entire art collection and uploaded it onto the virtual gallery game, Occupy White Walls (OWW). Now, the artworks are available for anyone to hang in their (virtual) collections – all you need is a computer and a Steam account.
Occupy White Walls is a sandbox multiplayer online game that lets you slowly build up your own gallery, employing architectural elements and the help of an AI that learns what art you like. In-game museums are populated with pieces from collections such as Washington’s National Gallery and New York’s Metropolitan Museum – hi-res images that have been pilfered from the museums’ websites. Think of it like those virtual art galleries on Animal Crossing, only with way more art.
“I like to think of it as liberation,” Yarden Yaroshevski, CEO of Stikipixels, who created OWW, told Wired. “But this is the first time we’ve done a whole collection, like this.”
There are 2,400 digital artworks available from the National Gallery, which is basically its entire collection, bar two pieces. High-res images of the artworks were taken from the institution’s website, before being treated on Photoshop and an open-source tool, Dezoomify.
Is this legal? Technically, yes. Most of the National Gallery’s collection is made up of paintings whose copyright has long expired, putting them firmly in the public domain for anyone to use for free.