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Art will suffer if online displays are the norm – Asia Times

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Almost 15 years ago, a group of artists, filmmakers, curators and critics came together at the Oberhausen Film Festival in western Germany to discuss the introduction of a new technological medium: YouTube.

How would watching film and video online differ from regular venues such as cinemas or the Oberhausen festival itself, which played an important role in European art-house cinema?

Would films be meaningful in the same way – watched alone, in poor resolution, on a computer – rather than on the big screen by a community that had come together to see them?

“They’re like photocopies,” said the curator, Stuart Comer. Comer, now chief curator for media and performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, argued that while watching videos on YouTube was not the same as watching 35mm film on the big screen, home viewing served a different function, and there was room for both.

It’s interesting to think back to that debate now. Many of the early qualms around online viewership have since been ironed out. The quality of streaming has gotten better. Museums and artists run dedicated channels, instead of the free-for-all of early YouTube days when historical films were often altered – edited, overlaid, given new soundtracks – and passed off as original.

We now know that audiences will watch a film from start to finish. This had been another fear, that without the social contract of buying a ticket and sitting in a cinema space, spectators would dip in and out, catching glimpses rather than following a story.

In 2020, with the Covid-19 lockdown, we are lucky to have YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo and other streaming and sharing platforms, but we should also be grateful that the platforms have been around long enough to generate material made for online consumption.

In most cases, we are now not watching “photocopies” of films transferred to the small screen, but works made for the small screen in the first instance.

It is unclear whether the traditional art world – the one of paintings, installations and sculpture – is now in a transition similar to that of the film industry a decade ago.

Museums are digitizing whole rooms of paintings; commercial galleries and art fairs are hastily constructing online selling platforms; and Google Arts & Culture, a digitization project reaching back to 2011, is being recommended by schools as a lockdown activity.

Will these be seen as photocopies, a temporary fix until the era of social distancing subsides? Or will art organizations, some of which have been buoyed by a stratospheric rise in online audience figures, continue these platforms once lockdowns end?

The answer won’t be driven by fidelity to the experience of seeing work “in the flesh,” but by economics. Museums and galleries will face significant budget shortfalls when they begin to open up, whether because of a curtailment in public funding, reductions in private donations or months of loss of revenue.

Exhibition commitments will come stacked upon one another as postponed shows are folded in among future programing, while works meant to be lent out to one place might be needed elsewhere or back home (or might just be too expensive to ship).

Online exhibitions will most likely persist for some time to fulfill these logistical needs – and they might well continue afterwards as an inexpensive strand of quantifiable audience engagement.

But we shouldn’t be lured into thinking that online engagement is a consequence-free decision. Like most instances of outsourcing to technology, online exhibitions mean job losses: the technicians, the restorers, the authenticators, the shippers, the insurers, the guides and the guards who enable the public showing of precious objects.

These roles support others: the technician might be an emerging artist, the guide a student, while conservators and guards might support families at home. Artworks might be digitizable for those who simply want at look at them, but not for the people who make their living in the trade. The art world hinges on the buying, selling, preserving and showing of material goods.

The economic impact goes beyond the art world. For years the trump card of the arts, when it was making its case for public support, has been its economic multiplier effect. For every £1 spent on the arts by Arts Council England, the government recoups £5 in taxes, the Arts Council found in 2015.

The “Bilbao effect,” pertaining to the economic transformation wrought on the northern Spanish city of Bilbao after Guggenheim Bilbao was established there, has dominated numerous city development strategies in the decades since – including, arguably, that of Abu Dhabi. And the argument continues to be made by international consultants, who show how visitors head to F&B outlets, gift shops and hotels after viewing museum exhibitions –benefits likewise not likely to be recouped digitally.

What the crowd in Oberhausen was concerned about all those years ago was YouTube’s effect on its community of filmmakers, curators and critics. As museums and galleries move to online exhibitions, they need to understand that they are risking much more than the loss of authenticity of experience.

This article was provided by Syndication Bureau, which holds copyright.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world’s first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

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Purchasers Preview Night offers first glance into this year’s Sooke Fine Art Show – Victoria News

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Here’s an opportunity to get the exclusive first look at this year’s Sooke Fine Art Show.

Purchaser’s Preview Night, which is held annually the night before the art show begins, will be held virtually this year.

Those who wish to join in on Purchasers Preview Night can buy a special access code and have the first tour through this year’s online gallery.

“This exclusive evening allows early access to view and buy extraordinary artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists ahead of the thousands of attendees who gain access the next day,” said organizers of the Sooke Fine Art Show in a press release.

A wide range of categories will be featured in the show, including more than 375 juried works of paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography, fibre arts, jewelry, glass, and ceramics in a virtual format.

Terrie Moore, executive director of the Sooke Fine Arts Society, said organizers worked hard to reflect the same feel of the in-person art show as much as possible.

Local chef Pat Hogan of 4 Beaches Catering, has created a special appetizer “grazing boxes” that people can purchase and enjoy while they “attend” the event at home.

Moore encourages attendees to make a night of it then share their celebrations on social media using @SookeFineArts and the tags #SookeFineArts2020 #SookeFineArtsGala. The entry code for Purchasers Preview Night costs $25 and can be bought at www.sookefinearts.com/special-events-2/.

This year, people can visit the show online anytime from July 24 to Aug. 3, although Moore added it might be possible to buy art from the website until the end of September.

There is no fee to view the galleries.

ALSO READ: Sooke Meals on Wheels seeks volunteers to replace critical roles

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City grapples with choosing public art – Red Deer Advocate

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From a brick bunny to the cenotaph, Red Deer has its share of public art — and city councillors waded into a thorny discussion about its selection Monday.

“I know art is in the eye of the beholder,” said Coun. Buck Buchanan, but he questioned what happens when many Red Deerians decide they don’t like a particular piece of art that’s been purchased with taxpayer money.

Buchanan described the disconnect that takes place when a public art commission makes a decision that city councillors later take public flack for.

“Would council get to veto (a public art selection)?”asked Buchanan on Monday, during a review of the City of Red Deer’s public art policy.

The short answer he received is no — at least not the way the city’s current policy is set up.

However, Shelley Gagnon, the city manager’s of the recreation, parks and culture, said council can decide whether to change the status quo. For example, councillors could opt to step up as city representatives on the public art commission.

The process of how the city handles public art purchases is up for review this summer. Council heard that one per cent of the budget for most public building projects that cost $250,000 or more is now set aside for a purchasing artworks to make these new or renovated spaces feel unique to Red Deer.

Gagnon is recommending this threshold be doubled to only building/renovation projects of $500,000 or more.

Although few big infrastructure projects have been approved of late in this tough economy, Gagnon is recommending maintaining the one per cent public art contribution.

She told council that a municipal review showed other cities put aside at least this much (and up to two per cent) of construction budgets for public art. And the City of Red Deer used to contribute 1.2 per cent, but this was previously lowered by council.

Gagnon also recommends that only buildings/outdoor spaces that will be visible to the public for at least four hours a day be considered for public art installations. A renovated waste-water treatment plant or civic yards would, therefore, not be good candidates.

Coun. Lawrence Lee expects several amendments will be suggested by various council members when this topic comes back for more discussion and potential first reading in August.

Lee said he wants the one per cent art budget to only pertain to projects of $1 million or more, as this would allow for more impactful artworks to be installed.

Council heard that the city has 101 public artworks.

These range from bronze “ghost” statues of prominent local historical figures, to small paintings and sculptures, to huge murals and a kid-friendly installation made up of movable marbles at the G.H. Dawe Recreation Centre.

Red Deer City Council

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Purchasers Preview Night offers first glance into this year’s Sooke Fine Art Show – Peninsula News Review

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Here’s an opportunity to get the exclusive first look at this year’s Sooke Fine Art Show.

Purchaser’s Preview Night, which is held annually the night before the art show begins, will be held virtually this year.

Those who wish to join in on Purchasers Preview Night can buy a special access code and have the first tour through this year’s online gallery.

“This exclusive evening allows early access to view and buy extraordinary artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists ahead of the thousands of attendees who gain access the next day,” said organizers of the Sooke Fine Art Show in a press release.

A wide range of categories will be featured in the show, including more than 375 juried works of paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography, fibre arts, jewelry, glass, and ceramics in a virtual format.

Terrie Moore, executive director of the Sooke Fine Arts Society, said organizers worked hard to reflect the same feel of the in-person art show as much as possible.

Local chef Pat Hogan of 4 Beaches Catering, has created a special appetizer “grazing boxes” that people can purchase and enjoy while they “attend” the event at home.

Moore encourages attendees to make a night of it then share their celebrations on social media using @SookeFineArts and the tags #SookeFineArts2020 #SookeFineArtsGala. The entry code for Purchasers Preview Night costs $25 and can be bought at www.sookefinearts.com/special-events-2/.

This year, people can visit the show online anytime from July 24 to Aug. 3, although Moore added it might be possible to buy art from the website until the end of September.

There is no fee to view the galleries.

ALSO READ: Sooke Meals on Wheels seeks volunteers to replace critical roles

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