Art historians as well as curators, gallerists and artists know that the digitization of the world has not only extended the media of art, but also its presentation forms. And that is not particularly new information. The problem is that a lot of galleries are still very cautious, when it comes to new media art. We asked Meg Maggio – director of Pékin Fine Arts – about her thoughts …
What are the reasons?
Actually the digitization/new media components of the art world are good things for those of us who are located outside traditional art world centers, in new emerging art world centers. New media tools allow those of us operating in the periphery to participate more actively and to integrate more rapidly into the worldwide contemporary art world conversation. Our gallery is Beijing and Hong Kong based, and new media tools give a wider audience access to our artists’ works and practices. New media art is an exciting new platform, whether mobile devices, embracing the cloud, audience interactive, performance-based work, all such new media tools help in shifting attention away from the conventional white cube exhibit model to a more mobile, more widely accessible model. The interactive element of much new media art is in our view a great “democratizer” in that wider audiences have access to the work and can participate in dialogues with the artist and the gallery. New media tools also give more individual artists a voice and a platform to express their creativity to wider audiences. New media art helps to redefine contemporary art, its practices, its artists, its new audiences; and new practices will keep contemporary art vital, relevant, less commercial and less risk averse.
Do you think it’s a problem that the physical space of the gallery takes the digital and internet-based works out of their natural screen medium ?
No, not a problem: This will require creative curating, giving new challenges to galleries, artists and curators. It is important to challenge the physical space and confines of the gallery. This is the type of challenge that keeps the contemporary art gallery world exciting.
Are the collectors still not ready?
Collectors are naturally curious, inquisitive, intellectually engaged, and actively looking for new opportunities in the contemporary art world. New media art is an area collectors are exploring and educating themselves about. The learning curve is fast and I am confident sophisticated collectors will want to educate themselves in regard to new developments including new media.
What are the problems, if an ordinary gallery has to catch up with the newest technology?
The only problem I can see is that galleries must staff up with tech savvy employees, who understand that everyone in a gallery must be tech savvy and this expertise is no longer limited to one “expert” person in the office. Actually the newest technology can be cost saving for ordinary galleries. Less advertising costs now that there is so much new media/on-line marketing free or at costs below traditional print advertising. New media art doesn’t require storage costs. How many paintings and sculptures are languishing, collecting dust in art storage facilities around the world?
Will the online gallery displace the traditional gallery with it’s real exhibition space?
No, online galleries will supplement traditional bricks and mortar white box spaces. The pleasure of exhibit-going and artwork viewing will not go away. Artworks have been around for thousands of years. Why stop now? We don’t see any signs of slowing down. We only see signs of acceleration and exponential growth. The biggest development of the last thirty years is in our view the democratization of the art world. No longer confined to a small elite, the art world is more accessible to all than ever before. I can sit in my living room in Beijing and go online and visit artists in relatively remote locales around the world and research artists across China and Asia without having to jump on the plane – at great expense – constantly. The risk is that we all spend too much time on social and new media, without moving our bodies and engaging in face-to-face conversations with new people.
Do you expect a change during the next 5 years?
Yes, I expect audience interest in contemporary art including “new media” to continue to grow: More “New Media” Biennales and Triennales. More “New Media” exhibits, scholarly articles and journals. And more artists dedicated to exploring new media.
Thank you so much for your time!
Pékin Fine Arts
Beijing. Hong Kong.