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Want Art? The Gallery Will Come to You

Monday, 2. January 2012 0:19

Not long ago, Jason Wilson sent me a link to an article on The Bygone Bureau that proclaimed 2011 as “the year the art world went online.” The writer of the article, Kyle Chayka, noted a number of online art world activities that occurred during the year, including a couple of very high profile ones.

One of the projects noted in the Chayka article was the online VIP Art Fair, founded by James Cohan. The Fair hosted its first interactive art show in January, 2011, and plans a second show , which will represent over 2000 artists from 115 “carefully selected” galleries worldwide, for February 3-8, 2012. This event brings together galleries and collectors from all over the globe and allows the collector to see many works of art and have conversations with the dealers without leaving home.

The second project is Art.sy, which is backed by Larry Gagosian, Dasha Zhukova and others. The website, currently in “private beta,” is essentially a search engine of fine art from over 250 galleries and museums in over 40 different countries which “will analyze users’ taste in art and show them other works and artists that they might like.”

Not only can you buy physical art pieces through the internet buy you can now buy signed, authenticated, limited edition digital art by some very famous artists. In addition to works by Shephard Fairey, Isaac Julien, and others, you can purchase an original Damien Hirst for $12.00. Prices range from £5 to £500 and increase as editions sell out. There are even plans for a secondary market—handled by the same site, of course.

While these projects involve the most famous artists and the most prestigious galleries, there is art for the rest of us online. A number of artists, of course, maintain their own websites; on some of these, the art is displayed and the viewer directed to gallery representation for sales, and on others, the work can be purchased online. Then there are the online galleries that are not as new or exclusive as those discussed above. For example, both Zatista and 20×200 sell only original and limited edition art. Other sites, such as Art Gallery Worldwide, sell originals and open edition prints. Others sell only prints, although some deal in limited editions. Then there are the print-on-demand sites, which reproduce digital images in a number of media, ranging from “art prints” to tee shirts.

And we have not yet touched on the educational use of digital media in the art world. For example, there are a number of initiatives by museums to allow patrons to use their smartphones or computers to get more information about the artwork. There are already virtual tours of museums available online through various portals. The Google Art Project provides virtual access to 17 museums and expects to add many more. Gagosian Gallery has published an iPad app which is essentially a free digital version of a quarterly art magazine; there are also a number of other apps which provide art reference, generally for no monetary investment.

There are some of us, however, who have reservations about the digital rendering of visual art. The digitization of art is on the increase , even though color calibration is known only to artists who used digital production methods. From an educational and a sales point of view, digitization of physical art or original digital art itself makes a great deal of sense. Still, because of the differences between color rendition on various devices, you never know whether you are looking at what the artist intended or not. Because of economic and marketing requirements, art digitization is no longer optional; still, I wonder, aside from sales potential, what artists think about having their work represented in such an uncontrollable way.


Category:Audience, Education, Marketing, Technology | Comments (1) | Autor:

Art: the Original Asynchronous Communication

Sunday, 9. January 2011 23:24

This week I got a couple of comments on older posts (here and here). I responded, but not right away. I read the comments some hours after the person had posted them, then I thought about the comments for a day before I responded.  A considerable amount of time passed, but at no time did the thread of the conversation get lost.

My approach is not unique. We live in a world of asynchronous communication: tweets, text, email, discussion boards, blogs and comments. Regardless of what the detractors say (and there are many who view asynchronous communication as somehow dysfunctional), asynchronous communication seems to be very natural. Much education has moved to the asynchronous model, and some has been very successful. We find the electronic forms of this communication easy and natural to use.

Of course, there can be a real-time component to a number of the communications media mentioned. Tweets, text, and email can all be responded to in real time, but many of us do not, because that is the convenience of those media. Ever notice how your volume of phone conversations has dropped? People now discuss when it is convenient for them, not necessarily when it is possible to “get together” in real time

Art was, of course, the original asynchronous communication. Excepting art involving a live performance, the product is created in isolation (assuming a single artist), usually in a location remote from the other party to the conversation. Then the artifact and the audience are brought together; the communication cycle is complete. Sometimes the audience discerns what the artist was saying, sometimes not.

Art is, after all, ambiguous. This does not disqualify it as communication. In fact, most communication is ambiguous. Otherwise why have courses in how to communicate? (And we all know there are plenty of those.) It is just with art, as with newer forms of communication, the interaction is not taking place in real time. Most people think of asynchronous communication as a very modern phenomenon; it has been around ever since the first man scratched the first image on the wall of a cave.

And just as with modern electronic communication, audience reaction to art, both emotional and intellectual is often delayed; it is felt, considered, thought about before being “published.” But unlike most communication, that reaction is hardly ever communicated directly to the person who created the work; more likely the response is transmitted to another audience member, or to some other community, but only rarely, if ever, to the artist, and if then, long after the viewing experience—a delayed retweet, if you will.

Art has several other aspects as a communication medium, one of the most important of which is that it allows complexity; many of our modern forms of asynchronous communication do not. Indeed, we must be careful in the world of tweets and texts to be sure that our comments are clear and properly referenced by the other party if they are to be understood. Some artists work with this same sort of concern; many do not. Many rely on complexity and ambiguity to create works that are not easy, works that are multi-leveled and intricate. It is left to the audience member to “get it” or not.

The ability of art to communicate complex and complicated ideas and emotions to great numbers of people over vast periods of time is unparalleled. No other asynchronous communication medium can touch it. Nothing can approach its calculated ambiguity, its fullness, its richness. Art may not only have been the first asynchronous communication, it may well be the ultimate asynchronous communication.

Category:Audience, Communication | Comment (0) | Autor:

Into the Realm of Books

Sunday, 3. October 2010 22:17

Jason Wilson wants to push the arguments in The Real Thing and More on Art Reproduction into the realm of books, and raises the question of preserving the author’s intent in electronic reproductions, citing as an example Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions. I had not meant to exclude any art, but his point is well-taken.  In forwarding his argument, Jason quotes Cliff Gerrish’s Echovar, which suggests that the reading experience is, for Gerrish at least, about more than the words on the page; he is concerned about line breaks and the placement of words. Gerrish’s concern is well-founded; written art seems to lend itself to alteration by electronic reformatting, and there are books that would be completely ruined by reformatting

If the line breaks were all that mattered, then 10hotdogs8buns’s suggestion that an electronic reader capable of displaying a constantly-formatted page, such as could be rendered in a .pdf file would answer the issue. When I read Gerrish’s comments, I have the feeling that he is talking about more than just the arrangement of words on the page or the line breaks; he is talking about the experience of a conversation with the work. And just as in conversation with old friends, there is more to the experience than just the words. There is the camaraderie, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the sense of familiarity, the overtones and undertones, the environment that contribute to the communication that “conspire” with the speaker, or reader.  This sensory environment is very eloquently described by Charles Anthony Stewart quoted in Menachem Wecker’s Sept 23 Iconia:

The three senses were overwhelmed….the large books, as big as a desks [sic], covered in their ancient leather bindings; pages filled with ancient notes, smudged finger prints, and candle wax–and the smell resembling soot and offal; the texture of the parchments, rough with the pores, some still with attached hair. But in the midst of these earthy materials, were golden images and vibrant colors, as bright and brilliant as the day they were made! Somehow, I was transported back in time.

Obviously, there is much more going on here than just experiencing a book. The environment makes up an important part of the experience. The primary significance, however, is, in Gerrish’s words, a conversation between the viewer/reader and the work.  Once we reduce the experience to the interaction of those two elements, we are getting to the essence of the art experience.

If what the viewer/reader is interested in is gathering information, then advanced technology may be the way to go, provided that the presentation is at least adequate; it’s inexpensive and convenient. But those who are seeking the experience that the author/artist intended, who are seeking a real interaction with the work, will, if possible, want to experience the work in the format and medium that the author/artist initially chose. That viewer/reader will want to experience the page layout, the typography, the brush-stroke, the shifts in tonal values, the texture, the structure, the movement. That viewer/reader will want to experience the real thing.

Category:Aesthetics, Criticism | Comments (1) | Autor: