I went to the Graduate/BFA student mentoring presentation last semester and after the Graduate student presented very useful information on the options we as artist have for presenting our work electronically, someone asked why we as artists should have to do this. The student made a valid point and I pondered if an artist is missing out on something if they are not online. The artist not using the Internet certainly does not get the emails requesting that their work be sent to another country in an email scam. But they do miss out on “Viral” spreading of their work. Is the art world becoming an online gallery?
I do not think that the physical gallery will ever go away. There is too much to miss in seeing a piece of work to scale, whether that is small or large. And what would be missed if we did not see the paint strokes, texture and viscosity of a piece of work. Would it lose it human condition? I think that they become sterile and voiceless if you are not able to walk around or toward for closer examination of a piece. Yes, a larger audience within the online gallery world can see the artist. Thousands of people can see the art that would not have seen it originally. Someone in Timbuktu can post a gallery and another person in Siberia can view it and someone in Normal, Ohio may inquire to purchase it. This has made our world much smaller in that it is contained on your lap or in the palm of your hand.
The spread of viral items on the internet, where news of Michael Jackson’s death spread faster than a traditional news station could report it, should help spread the arts to corners of the world who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get it. I believe that this has helped the fact that almost all genres are now viable. We are no longer a world where there is one way to represent your voice. Every genre right now has a market and is considered valid. You can find classical renaissance, abstract, impressionistic to the graffiti artist all current and available online. When I have asked artists if they are online, I have yet to hear one say that they will not be going online, just that it is in the process if not already so. So yes, I think an artist is missing out on something if they are not online and eventually we will all be. But the physical gallery will always exist until we can make holograms to put in your living so you may walk around, walk closer to and see the physical hand.