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The raw data of art
Friday, January 3, 2014
Editor’s note: Today’s post comes from You Yang, deputy director of the
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
Soon after the
announced it would be the first mainland Chinese museum to join Google’s Art Project, I was asked by an audience member what was my motivation.
Beyond the promotional benefits, what may be more important is the revolution in how the Art Project allows us to enjoy art.
Until recently, art knowledge has been based mostly on exhibits or reviews that have a clear slant. Indeed, when we want to learn more about artists, it’s often to find to find a truth lying beyond the exhibit’s theme or reviewer’s opinion. That truth — the original, unprocessed data that makes up art: the works, the facts, the materials — has until recently been kept mostly out of the hands of the public.
of the UCCA at Art Project
There are few opportunities to view large amounts of this kind of data when it comes to art. Modern-art fairs and biannual themed exhibitions have been the best way; but they are becoming increasingly uninteresting. Both require a lot of time and energy to attend and both push the public’s opinion in a specific direction.
Google, or maybe just the general uniqueness of the internet, can counter this by reproducing works from top-tier museums and letting the public to form their opinion. This creates a new problem for the public: where to start? Art Project allows users to reorganize the raw data however they want, creating more possibilities in the way that art is categorized and interpreted.
The Ullens Center of Contemporary Art
The Google Art Project encourages partners to upload high-definition gigabyte images. Many times when we look at contemporary art, we are more interested in the ideas behind the work rather than the work itself. But when we can actually look at classic artworks that were created, brush stroke by brush stroke, in extreme detail, it immediately shows the advantage of the Internet as a way to experience art.
instance, looking at a classic artwork magnified 20 times on your screen and passing over the colors and the textures as they intermingle on the canvas is something that would be hard to imagine in a crowded exhibition hall.
This is particularly good for contemporary art. The spirit of some works lies in the relationship between the creative process and the space in which the works exist. For instance, when you open the page for Beijing's UCCA, you can see
i Hui's work
for which professional photographers worked with the artist to present a lifelike dream-scape to the online visitor.
A detail from Li Hui's "V: Exhibition Scene 4"
The angles from which the photos are taken highlight the perfection of the artwork, which is difficult to see in person and can only be accomplished with the help of some imagination and a little technology.
There’s no need to worry that a rampant spread of online artwork platforms will hurt the physical museum. When people walk into an art space they experience more than the artwork, they also experience the space where the artwork is shown, along with how the artwork, viewers and space relate to each other.
Today, and in the future, the sharing of information both online and offline experiences will provide a wide range of opportunities for the public to experience these artworks. This is also one of the missions of internet technology to seek out and fulfil its role in promoting culture.
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