Wednesday, September 30, 2020
 Home is Where the Art is 

Art collecting has long been a passion and pastime for those who wish to own and display a piece of work that they capture emotional connections. There are any number of reasons why a person would want a piece of art in their home—perhaps the work or artist evokes strong positive memories, or they feel the piece speaks to the design, mood and aesthetic of their home.

Tim Sinnaeve

Tim Sinnaeve

Just as Romanticism gave way to Impressionism, the art world continues to move forward as artists react to the world around them. For example, we see the worlds of art and technology merging into an exciting new medium, or “New Media Art.” More than ever, artists are looking to technology for inspiration and as a digital canvas for their creativity. This new art movement has been gaining in popularity in the art world as more artists are creating digital pieces, and collectors are finding new and engaging ways to display them.

The Phoenix and the Medusa, 2017 / Jonathan Monaghan

It may seem abstract to explain how technology is shaping the creation and maximizing impact of displayed art, but that’s precisely what makes New Media Art so unique.

While there is no universally accepted definition for New Media Art, a good baseline is any work created with new media technologies such as digital art, computer graphics and animation, virtual and interactive art and even art as biotechnology. And while that might seem like an overly broad cross-section, it’s this variety that offers the most opportunity. New Media Art is the new frontier of the art world, one still in flux, with lots of room for artists to experiment.

Excitement for New Media Art is emerging across the art world. A growing number of artists are embracing New Media Art, and both museums and private collectors desire the unique innovation of these pieces and are incorporating digital art options into their creative landscapes. The movement is only just beginning to explore the possibilities with color, form, movement, and backgrounds. Even bleeding-edge technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality are influencing how art is created and displayed.

An Engaged Experience

The practical applications of New Media Art are only now surfacing. At its heart, it provides an opportunity to create an immersive entertainment and cultural experience. So why has New Media Art not yet become widespread? One main reason is a tendency in our industry to think in terms of products or boxes, such as “home theater” and “media room.” To this point, it’s not an experience we’ve brought to customers. Another element is quality and availability of content.

One overlooked factor is the tendency to display digital art forms on flat-panel screens in 16:9 aspect ratio. Our brains are wired to associate this aspect ratio with TVs or computer monitors, and this becomes the context of the work displayed. Very few serious art collectors are willing to spend the money on a high-end contemporary digital work of art if the result is mistaken for a nice TV screensaver.

From the artist’s perspective, she is unlikely to want to have her art displayed on anything that degrades the intended quality and impact— not to mention the limitations placed on her artistic freedom.

Virtually Limitless Applications

Driving the New Media Art movement is the artist’s desire to create amazing content, and the connoisseur’s passion to experience it in the most conducive environment. The technology must be in service of that goal. As we enter this space, we have to focus on creating experiences that allow people to enjoy the content and artists they love in exciting ways—and ensuring the quality is as high as possible. But what goes into ensuring that the art is displayed exactly as it is intended?

The first step is employing display technology of the highest quality available. It’s important to consider every aspect of the projectors or display systems— taking into account the unique properties of each technology, from the design and build to the luminance and picture quality. Laser projection is a state-of-the-art choice and delivers astounding results. Direct View LED also offers unique capabilities.

Connoisseurs and collectors are getting the most accurate, brightest and crisp representation possible, which translates to the most exciting and immersive experience. From the content creator’s perspective, they are assured that their creation is being seen in the best possible light, as they envisioned it from the start.

If homeowners can have the high-quality, laser-based projection and display options that one might find in a museum, luxury resort or high-end theater, then New Media Art becomes relevant in residential environments where the owners want to showcase this up-and-coming art form. In practice, the experience is not limited to New Media Art, and this is where the line between art and theater becomes blurred. As such, New Media Art can complement the traditional home theater experience. In the past, the default configuration has meant that when not in use, the screens and projection areas have remained clearly set up as a theater space. With the addition of a New Media Art alternative, a homeowner can have a seamless transition from an immersive entertainment space to an engaging art showcase. The experience extends beyond the art itself to encompass the surrounding architecture, and can also encompass virtual wallpapers and other design elements.

We’re still in the early years of New Media Art as a collector’s item. As more artists continue experimentation with all the medium has to offer, we’ll see a wider variety of pieces than ever. Going hand in hand with the artists’ exploration are technological advancements that are on the horizon. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to imagine houses that contain pieces of art that use augmented and virtual reality.

Regardless of what advancements come along, the primary reason for collecting art remains the same—filling one’s home with the pieces that have the biggest emotional impact. It’s up to us as architects, designers, integrators and product sellers to ensure that the art is displayed in as engaging a way as possible, no matter the medium.