An Art Gallery in your Hand

Poolga have been curating illustration, typography and graphic design work since 2007, with the specific intention of providing high-quality wallpaper for the iPhone. The work included is digital art, sized specifically for iPhone or iPad, and created by established and up and coming illustrators.

They have been offering these wallpapers on their website since 2007 but have recently created their first app. It includes a selection of work by 15 of their favourite artists. It has a great interface and you can save the images quickly and easily to your photo album to set as wallpaper, or Tweet a link to the images for your community to see.

What they are really doing is bringing an art gallery to handheld devices. The Google Art Project is working on a similar basis. Art galleries are wonderful places but you have to have been to one to know that. Online and iPhone galleries are a brilliant way to introduce new audiences to the concept of an art gallery. Whether it’s digital illustration or the inside of the Prado gallery it is an easy way to be exposed to art on your own terms.

Poolga’s ‘share’ function is where the real strength lies. The fact that when I like one of the pieces I can post a link straight to Twitter involves me and my online community straight away in the work.

I don’t see why ‘real live’ art galleries don’t have this function yet. Surely it wouldn’t be so difficult for the Tate to put a QR code next to every work, taking you to a microsite which would share it across your social platforms? I can see this setting off quite a buzz but also continuing to work way down the line when people are still getting excited by the things they see.

Get Offline to Go Online

People socialising in a cafe

I read this post by @documentally recently.

He talks about going to a conference about online interaction and discovering that the real interaction took place on the ground, with the people rather than in the brand-heavy conference space or its associated online space.

It led me to think about what we actually use social media for. There are so many of us (myself included at times) who spend hours online being ‘social’. We’re sharing ideas about digital media, we’re talking about building Facebook pages, we’re updating each other on the status of our websites. The trouble is, does any of it actually mean anything?

From my point of view marketing the arts, I know I need to be using the online social space to communicate about and around the physical experience of live art that we present. There are some brilliant online projects, like the RSC’s Such Tweet Sorrow project, an online telling of the story of Romeo and Juliet, but the main bulk arts events and performances are offline, relying on a very tangible interaction between performer, audience, people and a space.

We use the digital to help us build communities, and to facilitate interactions that may not be possible when relying solely on the people on the ground, but at the end of the day it’s still a community that we’re building. By the same metrics as Documentally’s conference experience, it is not enough for an arts organisation to have 10,000 followers on Twitter. If we’re not socialising within our online community enough that they become our offline community (i.e. paying audience) then we’re not using the tools correctly.

At the end of the day social media websites and new technologies are just tools. It’s up to us to actually be social.

© 2018 Jen Thornton

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