Social distancing practices are spreading faster than the virus itself, as countries like China and Italy impose draconian measures in order to curb the spread, and to protect those most vulnerable. Spending days in self-isolation can not only have adverse effects on our mental health but it can be especially hard for the culture vultures looking for an art fix. So what effect has COVID-19 had on the global art industry? Museums, Biennials, fairs and institutions have been postponed or even shut down indefinitely in the worst-affected areas. Many galleries have begun making the digital dash online, opening virtual viewing rooms of their collections, or offering tours over the internet.
What lessons have these drastic, but simultaneously necessary, measures taught us about the world of art?
1. Art in the flesh actually isn’t that good
Many would argue that experiencing art in person is the only way to truly appreciate it, but in reality how good is it really? How many of us have strained our heads to catch a glimpse of the notorious, if a little smug-looking, Mona Lisa? Despite being pressed up against an immovable wall of questionably-smelling tourists, we usually have to settle for viewing the work through someone else’s phone. So why not continue doing that but do it better? Galleries, with their intimidating spaces (especially to those of us hoping to really scrutinise and “experience” the works), cannot guarantee a wholesome art experience. Technology, however, can. With the development of AR, not only can you directly encounter art in your own home, but you can immerse yourself in its story. Artupia’s AR feature allows you to truly experience an artwork before you buy it, transforming your living room into an art-viewing sanctum without the risk of being elbowed out the way.
2. You don’t need to be cultivated or rich to enjoy (or buy) art
Online initiatives like Artupia prove the benefit online platforms can have for artists. Such services have not only allowed for art to remain a participatory visual experience, but also to widen the boundaries of what “art” is. The ability to explore art online is cultivating a new generation and community of art lovers and buyers; facilitating entry into the exclusive club of garishly-coloured-shirt-wearing collectors. AR technology and online platforms aim to open the hallowed doors of the art world to the previously hindered art buyers, lovers and artists of the highfalutin art sphere. The digitization of art debunks the art buying and viewing process, offering a wide range of affordable artworks by emerging artists. It allows consumers and lovers to explore an enormous catalogue of artworks in the comfort (and safety) of their own homes, and bring otherwise overlooked and underrated artists to the forefront of the imperious art scene.
3. The move to a digital art world can be done, and it can be done better
As the world of commerce catapults towards global panic-mode, swathes of people work from home and the earth benefits from the sudden drop in pollution levels. The art world, meanwhile, asks the question, is it outdated? To say Coronavirus has shaken up culture would be an understatement, as it has proven not only the immense power of the online world, but the sheer necessity of it. The art world generally revolves around highly exclusive functions amongst the enlightened elite, excluding emerging artists who rely predominantly on online initiatives to be seen. Now that the jump online has become essential, emerging artists are finally being given the airtime they deserve. Here at Artupia, we endeavour not only to make art accessible, but also personal, allowing users to browse original artworks or even commission an artist to paint a unique Custom Painting of their favourite photo.