How digital is shaping art creation and consumption

Digitization is enriching the world of art and museums, affecting not only how art is produced, but also how it is consumed. Magnolia’s DX Talk podcast catches up with two experts from the Basel art scene: Claudio Vogt from the Kunsthalle and Boris Magrini from the House of Electronic Arts.

Digital is clearly shaping the creation of art. When thinking about “art” and “digital”, Claudio Vogt, Head of Press and Publication Programs at the Kunsthalle Basel, one of the leading contemporary art spaces in Switzerland, is struck by how well artists use technology. He cites the example of an artist who uses drones to film herself while walking through nature.

For Boris Magrini, an art historian and curator of the House of Electronic Arts (HeK) in Basel, “digital technology is the artistic production tool of the 21st century.” The concept of “digital first” has transformed many industries. In the media for instance, this means putting content online first, before putting it in the physical form.

In the museum scene, digital technology is being used more for the mediation, for the consumption of art. For example, the digital team at the Kunsthalle developed a project where museum visitors were asked to send in voice messages via their smartphones, and the museum created an audio collection of impressions, an oral guest book.

Another example is archiving: A tool was developed at the local university where the user could draw a certain work of art on a desktop or tablet, then the search engine would automatically browse through the archive to search for that particular work.

Larger institutions are experimenting with all kinds of technology, such as beacon-powered smartphone guides. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has introduced a service where users can send a text message requesting a work of art, and the algorithm-based tool would send them an image based on the request.

Vogt thinks that the key thing about social media is for institutions to always be where their audiences are, to engage with them in new and unexpected ways, and to shape their interactions with art.

Influencers are the new PR agency for museums,” he says. The Louvre recently took this to the next level by having JayZ and Beyoncé do their music video at the Louvre, and drew in a hundred million views. While not all of these million digital users might be looking at art pieces, the chance of reaching a wider audience is multiplied.

He believes that what museums can do better, beyond the pure digital technologies and social channels, is storytelling. They can put art exhibitions in context, take visitors on digital and physical journeys through an exhibition, build visitor experiences even beyond.

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