How can technology be used as a tool to make art more accessible?
Statement of Purpose:
The aim of this study is to discuss how we can enhance the narrative that conventional galleries use to exhibit their work by creating a tool. By opening a conversation between artist and visitors we will “highlight the importance of building emotional connections” (Papadatos, 2006). The philosophy negotiating the intrinsic value of art as “sole desire is to perform a “pure” act, unconditioned and unrewarded: Art for Art’s Sake.” (Guérad, 1936, p263) is taken into account. The overall experience art gives, is not what wants to be altered, rather, offer pointers to the audience that find themselves nervous to interpret.
This research project is problem based focusing on the development of an app “The Stories of Art” that helps users interpret artwork and creates a dialogue between viewers and the artists. The problem identified in the initial proposal was that there is a gap between the goals of an artist and a consumer’s interpretation. It was found that “any visitor in an art gallery is likely to be subject […] to the intimidating effects of this history” (Graham, 1997, p27).
To make my research process as clear and academic as possible I set up my learning log to untangle the web of material I would be gathering by using the categories: Research, Readings, Stakeholders and Feedback. Research gathers primary research such as interventions and case studies. The category Readings gathers academic secondary research collected along the way. Stakeholders comprises all findings on stakeholders and their consumption methods. Finally, the Feedback category encompasses comments I have received from stakeholders and gatekeepers.
Working backwards from the wording of my hypothesis How can technology be used as a tool to make art more accessible I explored the meaning of the words. Identifying and extensively researching what the key terms Technology – Tool and Accessibility meant for me and for the subject discipline. Once I understood what these terms meant and entailed through secondary research I began testing assumptions I had built along the way.
I quickly realised that my research process was like a ping pong game between my secondary research and issues and assumptions brought out during primary research.
Up to date there have been three major turning points; the VR museum case study, my research on Art Interpretation and most recently my Intervention 4.0.
The primary turning point in my research affected the technology I would be developing. Sylvain Levy, owner of the Virtual Reality (VR) Museum “DSL Collection”, defined VR Museums as « A hybrid notion including sites that perform as the digital footprint of a physical museum, or as independent museums while maintaining the official status as granted by ICOM in its definition of a museum. » (Levy, 2018) By very generously letting me explore the software his company created, I realized the extent of VR and the costs and time it would entail. My observations allowed me to take a step back and simplify what I was trying to make too complicated. Further discussion with tech professionals redirected me to the idea of a smartphone application with simple features. The following would include shape recognition and QR code to enhance any type of feature the artists and gallerists want to underline and an interactive feature between viewer and the artwork and artist.
My next key finding concerned the content I would be exploiting. Tracey Chevalier’s TedTalk on “Interpreting Art through Stories” influenced me to make my content more accessible and personal for viewers. I realized that I could try and immerse general viewers into the artwork, and have them articulate their interpretation of the artwork through their own words. Terry Barret’s thoughts on interpretation validates the importance of doing such;
“Interpretation is also the most important aspect of criticism because a responsible interpretation necessarily includes description, and because a thorough interpretation of a work of art, which results in an understanding of the art, renders judgement much easier and perhaps superfluous. Judgement of a work of art without interpretation, however is both irresponsive and irresponsible.” (Barrett, 1994)
The third key finding will probably in the future alter my tech and content. In Intervention 4.0 I went to the Ottawa Art Gallery to give viewers the choice between observing content on a smartphone or a pamphlet. One of the stakeholders gave me an important observation as she discussed how she enjoyed the paper because it was personal and she could bring it home. This made me think of personal gratification and how I should pursue this and include it into the project.
The timeline I had initially set out to respect was never quite followed as I realised when working with second and third parties you never know what to expect. For instance, the demo video I produced with a graphic designer was supposed to be done by mid-august and because it was summer it was more difficult than expected to get things done in the time frame. I’ve also found it challenging to record secondary research. While reading I would jump from one thing to another and get lost in the process of recording my stream of thoughts.
The major learning outcome is that it is not about making your ideas smaller it is about scaling them to what is possible in the time frame you have. By giving yourself smaller goals you make things more achievable and you build confidence within your discipline. In the future, I will explore why people are motivated to go to artistic setups, who are the people that don’t understand and what it is they don’t understand in art interpretation. Additionally, I need to gather feedback from gallery and museum curators in order to test the viability of the project.
Barrett, T. (1994) Principles for Interpreting Art. Special Theme: Interpretation. P8-13
Guérard, A. (1936) Books Abroad “Art for Art Sake”. (p263-p265) Board of Regents of the university of Oklahoma. Vol10 N°3. Web. Jstor. 14/10/2018.
Levy, S (2018) Co Founder of DSL Collection. Maya Ganguin LearningLog. Web. 31/08/2018.
Papadatos, C. (2006) The Art of Storytelling “How loyality marketers can build emotional connections to their brands”. Journal of Consumer Marketing. Vol 23. Web. Deepdyve. 13/06/2018.
 International Council of Museums