How can technology be used as a tool to make art more accessible?
The aim of this study is to discuss how we can enhance the narrative conventional galleries use to exhibit their work by creating a tool. By opening a conversation in 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.
Personal experience in “conventional gallery settings” (Graham, 1997, p2) and conversation with artists, opened my eyes on the gap that exists in-between artist’s goals and consumer interpretation. When entering an exhibit, it isn’t always clear what environment artists/curators are trying to set for their audience.
As purpose of setting the grounds we will define the term gallery. The latter can be defined as “an art institution with an elitist history, a ‘no-touch’ tradition, and despite many efforts to the contrary, a resolutely middle-class demographic of visitors” (Graham, 1997, p27). Thus “any visitor to an art gallery is likely to be subject […] to the intimidating effects of this history” (Graham, 1997, p27).
Further research has shown that the “intimidating effect” creates a gap in between artists aims and consumer perception. As maintained in Contemporary Art and the Non-Expert Viewer; “preconceived beliefs about art may prevent non-expert viewers from appreciating works of contemporary art. As a result of these beliefs, non-experts may avoid art viewing activities or, when engaging in such activities, may forgo the essence of the viewing experience” (Douesnard, 2005, p1).
Research supports this argument. In a sample of 57 subjects 91% said to not necessarily understand what they were looking at and could feel intimidated or confused in a gallery setting. Subjects disputed they did not feel part of the art world as “one of the consequences of this separation [of art from the social aspects of contemporary life] left many ordinary people feeling excluded from what the cultural elite defined as art” (Douesnard, 2005, p2).
The viewers intimidated by the art scene, therefore, that lack courage to interpret, would be the main stakeholders as they would beneficiate from such a tool.
The tool that would be developed could attend galleries that are both considered cultural institutions or economic ones. Marcia Bystryn differentiates two types of galleries, the ones that foster invention and the ones that foster innovation.
The first type tends to foster invention in the artistic community […] The second type excels at innovation or rather bringing promising artists into the art market and promoting them successfully […]. Our first type of gallery can be located within the first camp. It is concerned with fostering creativity among its artists. Our second type is more concerned with marketing a product.
The second type of gallery has the economic sustainability to encompass such a tool, they would be the gatekeepers to such a product.
In order to curate a tool appropriate for our stakeholders, we must understand how one digests art.
Two professors of the University of Otago, Lisa and Jeffrey Smith studied the time people spent in front of art. With the mean time amounting to 27.2sec in 2001 and 28,6sec in 2017 (Kaplan, 2017), the time people spend in front of art even with the digital era, has not changed much.
However, the way people interact with the artworks has been altered. The democratization of smartphones has resulted in the creation of “arties” – selfies with artworks (Kaplan, 2017). As a study has shown that over a sample of 356 subjects 35% were taking these “arties” at exhibits. (Kaplan, 2017)
Thus, the tool created must keep in mind the time one spends in front of an artwork aswell as the extensive use of phones in art galleries. Alongside it would be significant to share the
positive outcomes art has on individuals. Joshua Guetzkow’s grid gives us a clear overview of how the Arts impact us. According to The Mechanism of Arts Impact the benefits of direct involvement with art on individuals are the following:
- Increases sense of individual efficacy and self-esteem
- Improves individuals’ sense of belonging or attachment to a community
- Improves human capital: skills and creative abilities
- Builds individual social networks
- Enhances ability to work with others and communicate ideas
The methodology around the tool will vary as we could explore different means of narrative. Keeping in mind the use of smartphones, we can suggest augmented reality as a possible tool. At present, augmented reality refers to the use of digital and mobile technology to merge a virtual image with the real (Lee, 2018, p848). It would be interesting to see how we can engage conversation and emotion.
The following two apps, Artivive and Blippar, are leaders on the market intersecting augmented reality and art. Using shape recognition, the augmented reality apps can enhance any type of feature the artists and gallerists want to underline. The apps feature the option of uploading your own personal content that would show up when reflecting the phone camera onto the art piece related.
This type of technology would help democratize art and make it more accessible for those intimidated to interpret, giving background on the piece and more insight on the artist.
It would be interesting as an intervention to upload onto one of the apps content related to an artwork we would like to give more insight on. It would be intuitive to then ask people to use the app and view the content to record their reactions. If they are more comfortable interpreting, if they found it useful and if they would use it again.
For the first intervention, we will use the photoshoot of nude female models done on the 6th of June. The behind the scenes videos and a short interview of one of the models will appear when flashing the final image. Stakeholders reactions will be then recorded and assessed.
The outcome of such a tool will hopefully “highlight the importance of building emotional connections” between artists and consumers. Maya Angelou’s poem “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” is what consolidates the intangible relationships that are created in galleries and museums
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 That is, it is more involved with the individual artist and bringing to fruition his creative potential; This includes the interchange of ideas on aesthetic question and a dialogue over works in progress (Brystyn, 1978).
 In keeping with this, the first type tends to provide symbolic rewards to its artists while the latter type allocates out very distinct monetary rewards. One can make a distinction among galleries between those which conceive of themselves as primarily cultural institutions and those which conceive of themselves as businesses.
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Carbon, C. (2017) Art Perception in the Museum: How we Spend Time and Space in Art Exhibitions. I-Perception. Web. NCBI. 13/10/2018.
Douesnard, M. (2005) Contemporary Art and the Non-Expert Viewer “A study if pre-conceived ideas about art and René Derouin’s educational strategies to address them”. Bibliothèque des Archives Canada. Concordia Unvieristy. Web. Spectrum Library Concordia. 13/06/2018.
Graham, B. (1997) A Study of Audience Relationships with Interactive Computer-Based Visual Artworks in Gallery Settings, through Observation, Art Practice and Curation. The University of Sunderland. Web. 13/06/2018
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