OASIS is an independent open-source art platform designed to connect artists with space providers and audiences in the local communities. I was initially conceptualized by Jihyun Kim and I. The goals of this platform are (1) to make more spaces available to artists to show their work, (2) to give space providers a unique channel to announce the availability of their spaces and the type of work they are looking for, and (3) to provide audiences the means to find and experience the artworks currently on display and to connect with local creators. The OASIS webapp was developed by Carlos Cruz, and it is live at oasis.art.
Event listing in the OASIS webapp.
Our original motivation for OASIS was creating a tool to facilitate interactions between artists, hosts, and audiences at the interface between online and local communities. While developing OASIS, we considered non-traditional spaces that could support art activities throughout the Boston area (e.g., shops, storefronts, abandoned/vacant buildings), and how to facilitate the discovery of those spaces by the local audiences. For us, this was a very important aspect of OASIS; even though a significant amount of energy was put in the development of the technolgy behind OASIS, we saw this project primarily as an opportunity for dialog, interaction, and creation within our communities.
Virtual spaces and events
After a process of design and development that started in 2018 and picked up momentum in 2019, our plans included a first local pilot in Cambridge in early 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic derailed these plans, and we had to put the project on hold for a while. By the end of 2020, we started exploring online platforms for virtual art events due to the restrictions placed on in-person gatherings, and we resumed work on OASIS with a focus on supporting Mozilla Hubs and Gather Town. Throughout 2021, and thanks to the help of Emily Ottinger and Liz Pasekal, we organized a series of virtual and hybrid events involving artists from the Cambridge community and beyond:
Images from virtual and hybrid OASIS events in 2021.
A learning experience
Although embarking ourselves in a platform-building endeavour it’s a very challenging, even quixotic, proposition -not only because of the tech development but also, and perhaps more importantly, the community-building component- we learned so much from this experience. And if anything else, we ended up creating a platform that it’s truly independent and that we can use in our own community, adapted to our own specific needs. If it’s useful to us, maybe it could be useful for you, too! And of course, it’s open source :-)
Thanks to our supporters!
OASIS has received support from Cambridge Arts Council through its Artists Grant program, Boston University’s Spark! technology incubator, and Signal Culture’s residence for researchers and toolmakers.