Advantages of Viewing Art

Online vs In Person

Viewing art online rather than in-person now appears to be preferred by the majority of people who like art. And that majority grows larger by the day. Yet a modest but vocal group of traditionalists endlessly denigrate any form of online viewing and continue to insist that seeing art in person is the only way to go. They cite rafts of reasons including that online viewers can't feel or experience art's gravity, presence, scale, textures, colors, finishes, nuances, perfections, flaws, essences, emotions, auras, spiritualities, intensities, or profundities that they tell us can only be grasped face-to-face in order to have any sort of validity whatsoever.

Yes, we all know that seeing art in person beats seeing it online; no need to keep reminding us. So how about this idea? Rather than complain about the way things are and how they're going, why not think more in terms of possibilities, of what can be, of what's to come, of how to make art look its absolute best online since that's where all the action is. You can't change the course of history or what direction it's moving in, so why not work to improve the future? The good news is that highly skilled intelligent talented programers, developers, and engineers are on that job as we speak, working towards making online viewing practically as rich and compelling as seeing art in person. In some ways, they already have. Take these, for example:

* Far more art is available and accessible to see online than in person.

* You can see more art online faster and easier than you could ever hope to see in person.

* You can discover new and exciting art and artists online from all time periods and every corner of the earth that you would never have otherwise known about.

* You don't have to talk to anyone online. You can make up your mind about any art you're looking in peace. You can browse, research, and gather facts without interference. You can form your own opinions. It's uninterrupted enjoyment entirely on your terms. It's all you all the time.

* You can meet and often engage with artists, gallery personnel, curators, critics, and other art people online who you would have never have been able to approach, meet, or communicate with in person.

* Gallery personnel and artists are often far more accessible and approachable online than they are in real life.

* Communicating with artists, galleries, and art people is almost always easier online than in person.

* Seeing art online first helps you decide whether you want to see it in person.

* Online viewing is often preferred by people who feel uncomfortable at galleries or around artists.

* Many prospective buyers want to make sure they like what they're looking at or would consider buying it before seeing it in person or speaking either online or face-to-face with anyone about it.

* You can often find out how much art is selling for online without having to ask.

* Buying art is easier online than buying it in person, not only from the standpoint of paying, but especially in terms of having to engage (or disengage) with sellers who make you feel uncomfortable in some way.

* Artists and galleries are able to control how viewers see art by their choice of images, the order they put them in, and what they say about them.

* Artists and galleries are able to show how their art looks in interior settings. This helps viewers picture how the art might look in their homes or offices, and help them decide whether or not they want to buy it.

* Artists and galleries can show close-ups and details of art that people might have difficulty seeing or even noticing without having them pointed out first.

* Artists and galleries can use close-ups to scale details or small areas of art by inserting common objects into their images for comparison purposes, like a pencil point or ruler. This gives viewers a better sense of the complexity, meticulousness, care, skill, or amount of work that went into creating the art.

* Artists and galleries can show parts of the art that people don't normally look at or think about like backs, bottoms, edges, or sides that would only be visible in person if the art was physically removed from a wall or pedestal or taken out of its frame.

* Good closeup images can often show details even better than looking at them with the naked eye.

* Artists and galleries can show sections or areas of art that viewers might otherwise miss or overlook or not even think looking at.

* If online viewers have questions about art or want to see certain parts a little better in order to experience it more fully, artists and galleries can often send them those images.

* Museums can show their art in ways that are not possible to show it in public due to policies, rules, requirements, or restrictions.

* Like artists and galleries, museums can photograph and present details and aspects of their art are not possible for the public to see in person.

* Museums can show their art without protective barriers or other constraints that may compromise the physical in-person viewing experience.

* People can view art online 24-7. There are no hours, opening or closing times, lights switching on and off, closing announcements, gallery assistants tapping you on the shoulder, security guards ushering you out, etc.

* Online viewers can see art at their leisure and stay as long as they want. They don't have to worry about crowds, time limits, whether they're blocking anyone's view, whether anyone's blocking their view, background noise, and so on.

* Viewers can devote 100% of their time and attention to looking at art online. When looking at art in person, there can be all kinds of distractions that interfere and detract from enjoying the art.

* People who aren't that familiar with art they're looking at or have questions about it often feel more comfortable asking those questions online than in person.

* Feeling comfortable or in control of conversations and interactions with artists and galleries is easier online than in person.

* You can look at art online in complete peace and privacy, an experience that's often difficult or impossible to have in real-life settings. For example, being able to look at art without having someone next to you constantly talking about it, wanting to know what you think or whether you like it, pressuring you to buy, laying their explanations or opinions on you, etc.

* You can eat, drink or smoke whatever you want while viewing art online.

* You can wear whatever you want while looking at art online.

* Online viewers don't have to deal with unwanted approaches, conversations, people asking personal questions, artists going on and on about their art whether anyone wants to hear it or not, pressure selling tactics, getting hit on, etc.

* Online viewers don't have to drive or take public transportation, get stuck in traffic, try to find parking, wait in lines, navigate crowds, etc.

* There are no membership or admission fees to look at art online.

* No matter where artists or galleries are located, people the world over can see, experience, enjoy, and buy their art online.

* No such thing as arriving too early or too late.

* No drunks, weird smells, freeloaders, people looking at you funny, friends who are bored and want to leave, running into exes, primping, preening, dressing up, blizzards, icy sidewalks, 100-degree heat, pouring rain, unexpectedly locked doors, other people's children, other people's pets, etc. etc. etc.

* Perhaps the online art experience isn't so bad after all, is it?

Rashaad Newsome artist art

(art & installation by Rashaad Newsome)

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