Re-Presentation: The Future of Exhibiting Art Online

I’ve heard murmurs that the future of exhibiting artwork is shifting to digital formats. Finding a way to present work online will ensure one’s success as an artist.

(Online exhibit presented by AHA Fine Art – “How To Be A Princess by yours truly on the right)

This is a fine solution for artwork that is digital in nature (video, photo) or meant to be viewed head on from one perspective (2-D works), but what is the future of installation and 3-dimensional artwork that demands a collective viewing of multiple perspectives?

The online shows I’ve applied to have limited their virtual gallery to one image per piece. It’s no shock that most of the work I’ve viewed in these digital exhibits are largely promoting works that can be wholly experienced in a single picture: photographs, drawings, paintings, prints, and flat relief works.

For months I’ve wrestled with the question of whether it is smarter for me to shift my practice. Should I turn solely to the production of works on paper and animation? I’ve never amended my practice to follow a trend, but is it savvy to create work that may have fewer and fewer opportunities to be shown?

Savvy or not, I haven’t been able to commit to such a shift.

As both a maker and a viewer of art, I like work that reveals itself bit by bit. I enjoy taking in the details and adding them up to construct a narrative. I love 2-D work, but I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t experience (or can’t have viewers experience) artwork that requires more than a single perspective view. If the future of exhibitions is indeed online there must be a better way to present complex, multi-faceted works. A way that encourages audience interaction.

To achieve interaction in this brave new art world I’m searching for different methods of presenting my installation and sculptural work. The presenting, or re-presenting, of artwork in such a way necessitates delving into new territories. Looking to industries such as real estate 3-D modeling and video gaming, I’m finding services that offer image capture that could construct a virtual studio and/or gallery tour. I’m considering re-documenting my sculptural work in a way so website visitors can virtually walk around each piece.

The concept is overwhelming but wildly exciting. How cool would it be to explore the many details and facets of a sculpture or installation at your own pace and in your own location? Imagine entering and navigating an art installation online as if you were right there in the room with it!

Virtual venues will never replace an in-person experience, but if done right they can offer artists a wider audience reach. One of the silver-linings of the pandemic-induced shift to online programming is the ability for people all around the globe to attend a gallery opening or artist talk in a completely different country.

I believe that audience interaction is an important step in the completion of an artwork. Only once the viewer has brought their own reflection and reading is a piece truly finished. The challenge will be to facilitate an online space that preserves both the intent of the work and the experience of the viewer.

I’m not yet sure of how to do this, but I’m excited to move towards finding a solution!

Are you a maker? How would you go about re-presenting your work online? Are you a viewer? How would you like to explore 3-D artworks online?

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