We all know viewing art online is nothing like seeing it in the flesh. Luckily living in London I have an almost limitless supply of exciting new shows and events to whet my appetite. But for many people interested art outside the major cities, viewing works online is their first encounter with many pieces. I know I’ve been shocked both pleasantly and unpleasantly when I’ve finally seen pieces in their skin – Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings spring to mind.
What is this online experience of art like? Often the pictures are of bad quality: colours are not faithfully represented and a sense of scale is practically non-existent.
And there is a wider issue at hand. In 2008, the art critic Robert Hughes made a TV show about the Mona Lisa curse: commercial artwork that is treated “as though it were a film star.” As the Mona Lisa was when it was taken to New York, “People came not to look at it, but to say that they’d seen it.” The downside of this is ever increasing prices for on-trend art, effectively blocking out museums and other public galleries from investing in, and showing, these celebrated works. This, therefore, cements the necessity for digital experiences of art even further.
Last week, I exhibited a new piece of work entitled ‘The Mona Lisa Experience”, which assesses the way we consume art online. A large, projected image appears from the rear of a billowing plastic sheet. Initially it is small number of browny, yellowy and greenish squares (or giant pixels!). As the viewer approaches, the size of the pixels decreases and more enter the frame of the image. Something starts to appear, but to complete the image, the observer must stand right in front the image. The Mona Lisa reveals herself in all her supposed ‘glory’……