Edge Studies (19th September - 13th November 2022) is an exhibition in Decentraland featuring new works by the photographer, explorer, activist, and storyteller Aaron Huey. The exhibition will present the powerful, uncanny images he captured at the edges of Decentraland, Minecraft, Somnium Space, Voxels, and VRchat.
Aaron Huey is a photographer and new media artist who has created over 30 stories for the National Geographic magazine including several cover stories, and is also leading new projects for National Geographic from VR and AR to metaverse spaces. He is currently on assignment for National Geographic in the metaverse, photographing (via his many avatars and various virtual cameras) the far edges of virtual worlds. Huey is the founder of Amplifier and director of Labs at the non-profit, he is a current artist in residence at Unfinished, and a three time Stanford Fellow, most recently named a Stanford Starling Lab Fellow where he is mapping Web3 ecosystems and new frameworks for data integrity, specific to photography.
"Have you ever wondered about the furthest edges of the metaverse? What are virtual worlds’ wildest virtual territories, and how do we access them? Virtual spaces seem to follow the logic of the flat earth theory, the misconception of Earth's shape as a plane or disk. Developers and communities design central buildings and events apart from any boundary. Reaching the edges of a metaverse means exploring what hasn't been planned and what has been ignored. In 2021, American documentary photographer Aaron Huey started examining these uncanny spaces in worlds like Decentraland, Minecraft, Somnium Space, Voxels, and VRchat – a quest we reveal in Edge Studies.
Photographs and videos from the edges, documenting falls or the nature of underworlds, inhabit this exhibition. Huey recalls the memorable places he found and his countless expeditions. “In some, it was quite simple. In others, I had to walk for hours”, he explains. “I documented these literal edges that fell off into the void and, when possible, jumped off them. Eventually, I realized I could fly off worlds without resetting and go into an in-between space below. I began capturing the unseen folds and transparent skeletons of worlds meant to remain unseen.”
Seeing what happens when you reach these uninhabited places reveals the artificial nature of virtual space. Here, where the boundaries appear, the essence of simulacrum becomes clear. We observe the unveiling of Maya's veil or Plato's myth of the cave: by discovering these places’ fictiveness, we can understand their mechanisms and how they work.
In "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" by Edgar Allan Poe, arriving at the edge of the known world means experiencing a context in which natural elements such as water, sky, and wind become total, filling our senses until the individual disappears. Images and videos witness a similar process, where the avatar is overwhelmed by atmospheric agents." (Marie Chatel, MoCDA Curator)
Aaron Huey, 'Leap 292', 2022
Aaron Huey, 'Edge Study 090 (Daylight Perimiter Fence)', 2022
Aaron Huey, 'Underworld 031 (Lava Tubes)', 2022