virtual exhibition

The Website Exhibition: Old and New

Open, explore, type to enter, and browse; ever notice how the Internet's functioning, even jargon, is quite similar to that of a museum, where websites appropriate the role of continuously changing exhibits. Moreover, with the Internet steadily acquiring a past, websites have become historical databases and locations where this past continues to surface, as long as it is deemed relevant by Google or Bing. In the art world, knowingly or unknowingly, this phenomenon of virtual longevity has led to the rise of online exhibitions, where the artworks never have to be shipped, mounted, dismantled, and sheepishly monitored by security guards.
One of the best online exhibitions was created in lieu of the Monet exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris in late 2010. For the virtual component, the exhibition designers were faced with a both a challenge and an opportunity; how could they affect a lasting impression on the viewers through the artworks of one of the most ubiquitous artists of Impressionism? How could they ask viewers to look past the commercialization of Monet? (You can buy impressionist laptop sleeves and coffee mugs).
The answer lay in the development of a virtual exhibition component that reminded us that the brilliance of Monet cannot ever become part of the everyday vernacular. The exhibition takes us on a journey through an impressionistic world set against the backdrop of a canvas. In this journey, which begins with the spill of Monet’s inkwell, we travel through the medium of color as it makes it’s way across a virtual albeit realistic canvas. A series of gradual and beautiful spreads of color transform before our eyes into changing land/city-scapes , where we see ink-cloud shaped sections of Monet's paintings.
Moreover, playing in the background and transporting us to another era, is a wonderful piece by Debussy. Thus, as we glide from from one image to the next, we are given a chance to view not an impressionist painting, but an entire impressionist world! And all along the way we are encouraged to take part through a series of interactive sections, some of which involve waving and even blowing air into our microphones!
If impressionist artwork of the 19th century can be so wonderfully exhibited online, surely there are contemporary art mediums that can be displayed within the virtual bounds of a website. Maybe digital and new media art, which requires digital space, not wall space. This is where Art Micro-Patronage comes in, digitally.
Art Micro-Patronage is an experimental online exhibition space featuring monthly curated shows of digital, new media, and intermedia work. As visitors navigate through the exhibitions, they are encouraged to become micro-patrons of the arts, associating their appreciation of the works with small monetary values.
In Art Micro-Patronage, a visitor can navigate through a series of artworks, all of which have been adapted to the website format. Their current exhibit is titled Dériving An Imaginary City: Virtual Psychogeographies, which “looks at the use of digital tools in mapping the interplay between psychological states and urban environments.” The exhibition was surprisingly easy to follow and some of the artworks were truly interactive, while others were video exhibits displayed via YouTube or Vimeo.
A nice twist to Art Micro-Patronage is that instead of simply liking an artwork, viewers can become micro-patrons by pledging a small sum of money (.50 cents to 20 dollars) to a particular artwork. The use of crowd-funding to support an artist is not entirely novel but Art Micro-Patronage removes the intermediaries. Moreover, viewers may be more likely to pay for completed project rather than one that is still in the conception phase. Yet, the figure for the amount of money pledged to the exhibition is not exactly stellar: $83 dollars. In due time, perhaps teems of micro-patrons will be able to make difference at the macro level. Nevertheless, Art Micro-Patronage has some intriguing exhibitions planned for the upcoming year!
In both the Monet and the Art Micro-Patronage exhibitions, the website exhibition format was employed in a manner that enhanced a visitor’s interaction with the artwork. While the Monet exhibition used the virtual aspect to draw visitors and facilitate interaction, Art Micro-Patronage is simply using the medium of the artwork to display the artwork! And as the Monet exhibition continues to exist beyond the physical, tangible exhibition, it has become encased in the museum that is the World Wide Web, while Art-Micro Patronage is the latest gallery that raises money through the very act of a visitor opening, exploring, entering and browsing their space.

Paddle8: The Next Generation of Art World Experiences

An exhibition opening at a gallery or a museum is a colorful scene; an installation at odds with gravity, a massive video projection, a performance art piece, some marvelous, some questionable paintings, the bubbling and clinking of glasses, erudition with a tiny bit of pretension. And this very scene is re-enacted almost every week in cities around the world, causing one to wonder if the term ‘well-informed of the contemporary art world’ is becoming ever elusive, for a new exhibition signals yet is a new direction in the fast paced art world of today.

Besides the swooping pace, geography and money are limitations for those who would like to keep abreast with the continual and amazingly relentless evolution of the art world. Perhaps you are one of the privileged few who can jet-set across the globe, going from the Frieze Art Fair in London, to the Biennial in Istanbul, followed by a stop at the Venice Biennale, and a final sojourn at the FIAC Art Fair in Paris (this isn’t a fanciful itinerary, I am merely recounting the travels of Lynn Zelevansky, the Director of the Carnegie Museum of Art).

But considering that a mere 1%  hold most of the wealth, chances are, you’re probably missing out on a lot of new and upcoming artists that fall under the categories of the provocative, the obscure, the fascinating, and the truly remarkable.  Yes, you can always read hundreds of exhibitions reviews but art, at its core, is experiential and reviews convey the feelings of the writer; you’re own thoughts and feelings bow down to the constraints of geography, money, time, and a tendency to declare that writer knoweth best.

Yet what if there existed certain exhibitions that featured the work of contemporary artists, and were curated by leading figures in the art world, solely for the purpose of online viewing? And, almost simultaneously, I retract the what if because Paddle8, a new online art market venture, is exactly that which I described above :

Paddle8 is a new destination for examining, understanding, and acquiring unique artworks. Paddle8 is directed towards a generation of collectors, artists, and gallerists who see the web as a viable space for learning and access.

Since its official launch in June, Paddle8 has hosted an online exhibition every month that features artworks selected by a guest curator. The curator also selects eight “quirky art world influencers” who provide “multifaceted insights on works in each exhibition.”

Every artwork in an exhibition is accompanied by a dossier that offers the viewer a deeper understanding of the artist’s inspirations and motivations. These include video interviews, written explanations of a particular piece, other artists that have inspired the artist at hand, and write-ups on related works that have been exhibited elsewhere. As such, the dossier is both textually and visually rich, with some interactive multimedia experiences that are well suited to an online exhibition format.

With the aid of the dossier, an entire context is created around a particular artist or artwork, which is often difficult to accomplish in a physical gallery setting. In fact, it is the dossiers, the curators, and the 8 “quirky influencers”, that make Paddle8 a viable alternative to a physical gallery space. Since its launch, Paddle8 has already had four amazing exhibitions, the most recent of which is titled Immaterial, and is curated by the performance artist, Marina Abramović.

So, if you happen to be a collector, Paddle8 is definitely worth a visit or, more aptly, multiple clicks, some of which may set you back by a few thousand dollars or more. If you happen to be a make-belief collector like me, you can still register to gain access to their virtual exhibitions, and one evening, you may find yourself raising a silent toast to the next generation of art world experiences.