Art and Romance: Did We Lose it Online?
Appreciating art takes time. Time is in short supply in the connected world. Can artist's still win collector's hearts online?
Internet marketers talk about engagement. It is the hottest word in the struggle for sales online. The competition to get us engaged is fierce in all areas. Business to social media use many tricks and strategies to make us feel close to the message so that we buy or endorse. Marketers know that they only have seconds to get our attention before we escape into the ether.
Have we all become conditioned to instant gratification? Maybe the "New York minute" has become the "internet second". Can art compete? Can artists and collectors engage in a meaningful way online? Why does it even matter? Well the issue is critical for artists and the art world in general.
Most artists today need the internet to market their work or simply to publish their ideas. Traditional galleries can only cater for a tiny percentage of artists. The old model is under pressure. There is a huge opportunity for artists and collectors in this brave new world, but there are still two big problems.
The first problem, as already mentioned, is whether there can be real engagement between artist and collector. Does the art speak to the collectors heart and soul when it is reduced to pixels over the internet? Given that a painting seen in person is usually more impressive than online how does the artist win over the collector? This remains a challenge.
The second part is the time it takes to consider art. Online decisions are made in seconds. Retail products are simple enough to buy. We know the brand, colour and price range so we can click on the buy now button with confidence. But not with art.
Art takes time to appreciate. Art is unique. Often collectors will view work they like and consider the art for days or weeks even before deciding to buy. Clearly something very different is going on here. This is not a typical online purchase situation.
The collector who buys online is a discerning person. Patient, deliberate and a romantic. There is no escaping it. Art is about romance. A seduction of sorts between the artist's abstract concept and final creation to the collector's emotional response. Here lies the difference between online shopping and art appreciation. The art collector is a romantic seeking something more. An experience shared, a chance meeting and an understanding. It is an experience that holds mystery and some risk too.
The internet does give the artist and collector the opportunity to share something beyond the typical banality of commercialism. It is in the romance that our doubts fall away.
Is there still time for romance? I believe there is.
What do you think?
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa