Monday, May 23, 2011

Google art project

I have another piece to post and another one under way, but I'm not sure when I'll get them blogged. (Can that be a word? Let's say yes.) I'm very busy lately, but I miss writing and I hope to get back to it this summer. I have visions of blog posts about amazing exhibits I will see in New York and Philadelphia and Baltimore...But in the meantime, here's some amazing stuff I've seen online. Think of this as the art blogger's version of that new couch to 5K training app... this is the art I can see from my couch. Someday I will blog from Paris.

On Saturday one of my figure drawing buddies told me that google has been going to museums and photographing everything in sight in extremely high resolution. It's set up like google street view, he said, so you can take a virtual walk around the Hermitage without going to Moscow. It's an amazing concept, and it sounds even more incredible if you watch the guy who came up with the idea talk about it on the TED talks site. You can watch the talk online or just go straight to I've just started exploring the site and although it's not the virtual paradise I thought it would be, it is some kind of virtual paradise. The problem is that it's someone else's virtual paradise. It's an enormous undertaking, and there are a huge number of really weird curatorial choices being made as the google art project people try to decide what to focus on, so what you get is a very quirky selection of masterpieces from amazing museums.

The street view thing is also pretty funny. I'm starting to really love the unintentional effects of the enthusiasm for 360 degree views of spaces. When I was little I thought the real point of those driving games was to try to take an off road shortcut, and now that I'm older I feel the same way about 360 degree gallery views. I love that we can zoom in to the ceilings of galleries now. In the google art project's MOMA site there are some really odd effects when you try to get out of the rooms they've finished in to the ones they're not done with. In one of them you see a painting that's been blurred out next to a security guard whose head has been blurred out. It's kind of awesome, in a "this is so postmodern someone will surely make this an art project but actually it's only interesting for about three minutes" kind of way...

I've been looking at the Tate's site, though in the interest of efficiency I'm crabbily ignoring the whole walkthough aspect and just pulling down though the menu of available images. I'm finding some really amazing stuff. I'm loving the Tudor portraiture ( Who knew? Everyone but me?) and Ford Maddox Ford's Take Your Son, Sir kills me every time. I also love The Cholmondeley Ladies although there's really nothing intelligent to say about that piece that is as succinct and to the point as the elegant brevity of "WTF?!?!" If you don't feel that way just looking at the piece, read the viewing notes to the right of the image...

There's also a really great example of what the technology can do in the Chris Ofili piece called No Woman No Cry on the Tate's site. I like Chris Ofili, but this piece as always looked pretty idiotic to me. Of course I've only seen it in reproduction, and it turns out that a piece like this is just what you need google art project for. It looks like nothing until you zoom in really far, then try the option to view the paintings with the lights off. Not idiotic. Genius. Who knew? The Tate. Now who knows? The internet. Good going google.