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2020 is being marked by the effects of Covid-19. During a time of adaptation, how is the act of seeing art being affected? In this article you will get to know some of the online platforms, that through experimentation, are trying to understand what it means to present art online now and in the future. 

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While the word 'lockdown' wins an 'award' for the most used word of 2020, society is still trying to understand what it means to be socially distant in the future. Coronavirus has hit our ways to live in very drastic ways. Businesses are being affected, and we may await a prolonged and severe economic crash in all areas. The art world has been significantly impacted. Because it is not considered an essential business, most creative and cultural institutions have been closed for months now. Although arts and culture may not be as necessary as food or medical care, art is still incredibly important in our life's. Especially when mental health issues may arise through deprivation of social connections, creativity may be the key to tackle depression or anxiety, for example. 

 

Collins Dictionary Word of The Year post through Twitter.  Screenshot of @CollinsDict.

 

Throughout the last few months, galleries, museums and other cultural institutions have been trying to find solutions to incorporate art and creativity into an online setting. And, although most attempts to keep creativity output in society alive have been positive, bringing the in-person exhibitions and praised contemporary art to the digital world is raising questions on the value of art and how art can be perceived. 

The online world is making art more accessible, regardless of someone's location or economic status. But, when art is considered so unique and valued for its singularity,  exposing it in an online setting reminds us of how commercial such environment can be.  And the viewer is now raising questions on how art can maintain its original value.

 

: David Hockney, “The Big Tree in Autumn”, 30 October 2020, a message of hope to face a second wave “Remember they can't cancel the autumn either.” Courtesy The Art Newspaper.

 

Such issues are controversial for a world with such heavy history on debating its own value. But we also have to remind ourselves that we are living in controversial and challenging times, to which we should be kind and considerate of everyone's attempts to make things better. In this case, institutions are trying to keep the culture alive and maintain people engaged in consuming art. Not everything is perfect yet, but these attempts are more about making a shift towards the future, rather than replicate what has been done all these years. 

Positively, some online exhibitions allow the viewer to zoom as much as they like, for example. This was unthinkable in a real encounter with the artwork as we aim to preserve its original setting. But now, we can get close with every little bit of detail that composes such artwork without damaging it. Of course, online exhibitions create a different intimacy with the artworks, and the viewer may feel that it lacks a sense of dimension. Art still demands real-time experience, and that may never change. But that's okay because this is all planned to be a temporary solution.  

Going to the museums is an eventful moment and experiencing a Van Gogh painting in real life, for example, is very much different than seeing though little pixels of light. Despite the lack of the ethereal dimension, online efforts should be admired just because the viewer now is probably luckier than Van Gogh himself- Van Gogh never had the chance to look at his paintings the way we can see it now. 

 

Vincent Van Gogh, “Wheatfield with crows”, July 1890 – 1890. Screenshot of Google Arts and Culture – Van Gogh Museum.

 

Encountering art is somewhat a meditative experience. Appreciating an artwork is about the smells, the sounds, the shared experience with people that you love. And, it is also about the moment you share ideas and opinions around a particular artwork. Appreciating an artwork is a social and cultural behaviour that fuels our spirits with creativity and hope. Now in complete or partial lockdown, we remember these experiences as what it feels like to have sanity, in a sense. 

But as society is re-learning what is normal and reshaping previous idealisations of the future, some institutions are trying to introduce solutions for art to be experienced in an online setting. From 360 degrees virtual tours through the institution's exhibitions spaces; to 3D virtual spaces holding customised exhibitions; to interactive platforms- everything is being experimented to find the best solution and to provide the viewer with the same (or an even better) experience. 

Here is a list of the institutions and platforms you should check out:

1. Hauser & Wirth

2. David Zwirner 

3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

4. Google Arts and Culture

5. Cincinnati Art Museum

6. Musee du Louvre

7. Hirshhorn Museum

8. Kara Agora

9. Light Art Space

10. Garage Digital

11. Prototype

 

Cover image: David Hockney, “The Big Tree in Autumn”, 30 October 2020, a message of hope to face a second wave “Remember they can't cancel the autumn either.” Courtesy The Art Newspaper.

Written by Tania Teixeira

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world

 

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