One of the first glimpses of the metaverse to enter the mainstream was of an orb-shaped house made almost entirely of glass, furnished with sports memorabilia, a catsuit, a spacesuit, skis and a surfboard, as well as a full-scale observatory. Golden-hour sunlight poured across the space and distant birdsong could be heard from the surrounding landscape: an archipelago of climates and terrains, with snow-covered pine forests only a short kayak ride away from deserted tropical islands. “It has an incredibly inspiring view of whatever you find most beautiful,” Mark Zuckerberg extolled in the launch video of Meta, like a real estate agent giving a tour of his premium property.
In a solo exhibition, Simon Denny presents his own take on Metaverse Landscapes and investigates the private and corporate property interests that have already begun subdividing the digital world. In a series of works that combine oil painting with UV printing methods, Denny depicts privately owned properties within various metaverses: Otherside, Decentraland and Somnium Space, among others. Across these works, it is clear that ‘landscape’ means something more like ‘marketplace’, and that the “inspiring view” the metaverse offers has much in common with the pictorial language European colonisers imposed upon the so-called New World—an aesthetic Denny calls “early settler meets early adopter.”