Monday, July 30, 2012

Art and the Internet

It used to be that art was in special 'art' places - galleries and institutions, and possibly high-brow eateries or corporate buildings, that its very presence gave a certain 'cachet' to a gaff. This was before there was such a thing as the Internet.

Social networking sites, which mimic the very human and very ancient 'word of mouth', have revolutionised the whole visual world. Why describe an event when you can post up a photo or video of it. Similarly, why not share the art you create? 

The beauty of social networking sites is that you can put up a link to pretty much anything - photography sharing sites such as Flickr.com, Pinterest, etc.; specialist art sites like DeviantArt, Art Fortune, FASO, etc. - and share it, and in this way invite people to see it. 

It's easy to forget that you're not sharing the art as in the art object, but I don't think that matters anymore. If people can look at the image of the art object in a manner that's comfortable, they aren't bothered that the actual dimensions of the art object in question - the painting or sculpture or installation - might appear very different to how they are shown in the photographs. If you can access the work whenever you like, who needs to actually go out and buy a print, never mind an original piece. 

However, the downside of this is obvious: you can't always appreciate the impact of the piece either. An immediate example is the work of Modernist painter Mark Rothko. His abstract works were simply huge blocks of colour on enormous canvases - not much when you describe them in words, and certainly not really that exciting when reduced to fit on a computer screen. However, the actual paintings are massive things that take up entire walls of museums and suck the viewer right in. They are meant to disassociate you from your 'real' surroundings and transport you to a spiritual realm through contemplating the works - which would take considerable imagination if you are looking at such a piece on a computer screen. 

I am sure that there are artists out there who are exploring this notion and will come up with an installation that examines this idea of 'experiencing' art using a computer/the Internet. I know that the technology is available to experience the likes of Rothko on the scale at which he is meant to be experienced, but given financial and technical limitations on the part of most art affectionados, I think that such installations would - ironically - be limited to subsidised contemporary art galleries or spaces with the money to throw at projects such as these. But then again, people are extraordinarily resourceful ...

I like using the Internet to share my images. You can do it for free, if you wish - all it takes is time to promote your work. And I love the thought that, with very little effort on my part, I can make it possible for people anywhere in the world to see work I've created. Most of them are happy with seeing the images, but I have received a few requests for prices for the actual paintings or drawings. 


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