TOKYO, Japan – As part of its “IS JAPAN COOL” initiative, Japan’s largest airline ANA shines the spotlight on art-based tourism in Japan. Visitors can now experience the world of Japanese contemporary art before even stepping foot into the country, made possible through ANA’s “IJC Museum”, a virtual art gallery that can be accessed via the “IS JAPAN COOL?” website.
Combining Japan’s renowned art and technology, the IJC museum brings visitors through a virtual visual feast, bringing to life art created by world-renowned Japanese contemporary artists in order to highlight Japan’s unique arts scene. An experimental project, the museum uses cutting-edge technological innovations to re-create artwork in a virtual space.
ANA developed the IJC Museum in response to the government’s Japan Tourism Agency report on spending trends among international tourists visiting Japan during the period of October-December 2015. The report indicated that “museums and art galleries” were listed number 12 on a list of experiences visitors hoped to enjoy during their trip to Japan, behind more mainstream activities such as enjoying “Japanese food”, “Japanese hot springs”, “shopping”, “natural scenery/ rice-field scenery” and “traditional scenery and historical sites”, hinting at room to grow the art tourism market.
The IJC Museum’s collection features the some of the best works from seven of Japan’s leading artists (Yayoi Kusama, Tenmyouya Hisashi, Nerhol, Tabaimo, Taku Obata, Kohei Nawa, and Manabu Ikeda). The pieces on show include major three-dimensional works on display in Japan for the first time and some rarely-seen installations that are difficult to re-create elsewhere, as the museum utilizes virtual reality techniques to display a perspective that is impossible to showcase in a more traditional setting.
Architecture and Design
ANA designed IJC Museum in line with the concept of “a museum in the clouds”. Each detail is carefully thought through with the building designed to appear as realistic as possible. This unique concept marries innovative virtual reality technology with the real experience of viewing artwork in a gallery to see the world through the eyes of the artist.
World-leading 3-D scanning and texture photography
The exhibition allows visitors to view installations in a 360° panorama, specially curated by an appointed architect, and brings to life the experience of walking through an art gallery. Most of the installations were re-created through 3-D scanning technology that converted the art into 3-D data models. With the addition of high-definition textures, this project creates virtual replicas that are almost identical to their real-life counterparts.
Advanced Implementation Using WebGL
Through the use of WebGL, a technique for 3D representations, visitors to the virtual museum are provided with real-time rendering of the art gallery, exhibition rooms, and the artwork data in order to allow visitors to experience the architecture of the gallery and the precision of the installation on display. The IJC Museum can be viewed from a wide variety of devices including personal computers, smartphone and mobile devices, with no need for any special plug-ins, for maximum accessibility.