Think back to the first time you saw an artwork. You probably can’t remember, because it was likely long before you went on a school trip or on a family day out to a gallery. Your first look at a work of art was probably printed in a book, which may even have been just in black and white (with colour ink the preserve of pricier publications), or on an overhead projector – remember those?
Over time there are certain perceptions you associate with an artwork, that become acutely familiar to you, even if you’ve never seen the artwork in real life. A faded poster of van Gogh’s Sunflowers in your Aunt’s living room that if removed would leave a sad, pale rectangle on the wall, a Turner postcard perched perilously on your greasy student fridge, a greetings card of Monet’s Water Lillies that you gave to your Mum on her birthday four years ago and has been on the same spot on the window sill since.
With images in books, cards and magazines restricted to the size of their static medium, and not capable of giving the level of detail now achieved on, say, museum websites, when you did come across art or an object in a gallery or museum, you’d of course judge it upon your only frame of reference – seeing it in print. Naturally you might assume an artwork would be bigger in the flesh than it appeared on paper. But art can now been seen on screen in multiple ways, not just the desktop computer, but also a mobile phone, tablet and even in the cinema.
This week, inspired by our online team’s recent visit to the Museums and the Web 2013 conference, we’re asking how seeing an artwork digitally changes the way you see it in real-life. Has your relationship with seeing artworks changed over the years? Do you think these technologies enrich your experience for when you do see art up-close and do they give new possibilities to those unable to view it in the flesh? Or would you rather art go back to the school books, so you can trace, tear it and pin it on your wall? Let us know what you think.