Digital Art Curation

Photo courtesy Niio.

Smart technologies and artificial intelligence are changing the way we consume art.

While many treasured works of art are safely contained in notable museums or in the homes of experienced collectors, a new tide is cresting along the shores of the art curation field with the influx of digital art.

Digital art, more widely known as new media art, is an interesting sector of the art industry to define, even for Beryl Graham, who is a professor in New Media Art at the University of Sunderland. She notes that the roots of this art form have drawn inspiration from a range of movements, from conceptual artwork to video art, which also began in the 1960s.

“It’s broadly digital but [it’s also] the kind of art that works in different ways in different kinds of behaviors,” Graham notes. One fascinating example would be an exhibition of software art in which the software, sometimes even artificial intelligence-based artwork, can learn and grow on its own. Graham explains that an artist might start a piece of software and watch it evolve, perhaps give it a virus and watch, showing to the audience that the “end point isn’t quite under the control of the artist.”

Magdalena “Magda” Sawon, owner of the contemporary art gallery Postmasters Gallery in New York, says that the digital age has only heightened the senses of curators and artists, who are traditionally at the forefront of new developments in culture and technology.

“Technology is a tool,” she notes, “it is also a moving target and changing constantly. The question is to be aware of new developments and adapt it intelligently to one’s needs and benefit.” Fittingly, as artists have been harnessing the power of technology within the art industry, curators and galleries have had to “keep up with the times,” and embrace digital forms of artwork and the systems and methods in which they are displayed.

 

Donna Holford-Lovell, director of The North East of North festival (NEoN), notes how the incorporation of interaction and participation into art displays appeals to today’s technology-savvy audiences that have been gradually reinvigorating focus on the digital art world.

“The idea of ‘curation’ has become ubiquitous and our audience is seen to be curating many aspects of their own lives,” Holford-Lovell says. NEoN is an organized event that aims to advance the understanding and accessibility of digital and technology-driven art forms by having the artist and curator work together to translate “the spectacle of experience,” via digital platforms within physical spaces, like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and even social media.

JONATHAN MONAGHAN (US)

The Phoenix and the Medusa (2018), Video, 7 min 69 sec, Edition of 30, Niio Commission Series.

With systems and platforms, from artificial intelligence to online-based forums, both artists and curators now are developing larger platforms and databases to contribute toward. As well as an educator, Graham is co-founder and editor of the Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss, or CRUMB, a resource for curators of new media art that aims to help overcome any challenges presented from this rise in digital art, from installations to networks of artists and individuals versed in these practices.

PERRY HOBERMAN

Suspensions (2018), VR and mixed reality installation, Postmasters April 2018.

QUAYOLA (UK)

Camouflage (2018), Moving Image, 6 min 4 sec, Edition of 30, Niio Commission Series

On the luxury spectrum of art curation, Niio is a brand integrating digital art and technology-driven forms of collection and distribution that surges past the limitations of traditional artwork. Niio is an art and tech company aimed to enable the exposure of digital artwork in a time that to the company feels like a fourth industrial revolution.

“Art has always reflected the world we live in,” says Rob Anders, CEO and co-founder of Niio, “and artists will create their art with any tool they can access.” In today’s world, that tool has come to be technology. Anders, who understands the eclectic background of digital art from conceptual and video art, wanted to help designers and architects best fit homes with the art of today, and after speaking with top galleries he found that what’s really needed are new models of both the business and technological side that reach a broader audience — even better: one with a subscription.

 

“We envision a world where in homes people will have more digital canvases with interactive or immersive works, all on a centralized connected system that can very easily change,” Anders says, with access to top artists in the world in this ecosystem of artists, galleries and collections all on the Niio platform. Luckily, the CEO notes, the technology is “already there,” from artificial intelligence in devices like Amazon’s Alexa devices to smart televisions, all devices that can easily work with the Niio platform to display digital artwork.

To those interested in having access to the “world’s finest art accessible on-demand,” Niio is open as a limited edition membership at about $5,000 a month, with access to curated exhibitions and collections, or art “playlists” of over 7,500 art pieces on the platform that can be easily changed and displayed on devices like smart TVs, projectors, screens, et cetera, which can be installed by Niio technicians as well.

“Art curation is telling a particular story,” he says. “In order to give people these digital works, it’s not about just finding the individual works, it’s about giving people the ability to learn about the works they are looking at,” he says.
Rob Anders

CEO, Co-Founder, Niio

Being trained originally as an architect in Germany and London and having worked with one of the most iconic architects of the 20th century, Zaha Hadid, designer Timothy Schreiber reached what he calls “the center of the universe” in terms of digital design and technology very early on in his career. Though highly driven by today’s advancements in digital technology, Schreiber discusses how his designs are actually the outcome of a wide assortment of influences, even more traditional practices such as cabinet making and woodworking.

What about this particular version of design is most attractive to you, and to others?

 

I always like a new challenge and trying something completely new that nobody has done before and I hope others will also enjoy the freshness and new-craft aspect of my work.

 

 

Where would you draw inspiration from?

 

For me personally, I can draw inspiration from any beautiful moment.

When I walk through Kyoto I might have some great ideas by looking at the beautifully dressed locals and the amazing scenery and traditional architecture.

When I see the sunset behind the Diamond Head in Hawaii while swimming in the pacific I might have some new amazing ideas for colors, moods or shapes.

While I am walking up Montmartre in Paris some great eclectic ideas might come up while I stroll a secondhand market and see a broad mix of items from different eras like Beaux Arts, Art Deco or Art Nouveau.

 

 

How do you think the presence of digital tools/technology has changed design over the past few decades? How do you use these tools in your own work?

 

Whilst in the design department of Zaha Hadid, I realized that, although the latest digital design tools might be used there, without a fundamental understanding of traditional craft it’s actually extremely difficult to achieve perfection in object or furniture design. …  I am hoping I can push the symbiosis of traditional and digital design and making process to the next level. However, the most important aspect of my work will always be the focus on traditional craft.

 

 

What do you think you try to achieve through your collection/these pieces, i.e. what is the goal when it comes to your work?

 

I am aiming to push the boundaries in terms of what is possible and in terms of what hasn’t been done before, whilst combining new and old crafts. I like to work in many different materials, metal, glass, wood, fur, etc.

Sometimes, during my travels I find interesting traditional crafts and technologies. For example while I was living in China I got introduced to traditional Chinese Glass casting. The projects that were done with this technology were mainly traditional glass statues and figurines… After a lengthy process of experiments and tests we were able to push the boundaries here and make a piece of cast glass furniture which was almost twice the size that any other object that was previously cast there.

 

 

What do you think are some key things to remember when outfitting a home?

 

God is in the details.

 

 

Does your mind focus on a specific space in a home or space when you design, or on something else?

 

I was trained in multiple disciplines, cabinet making, architecture and interior design. My first 3 years in architecture college I spent at Bauhaus University in Germany. … I like to always focus on all spaces and all aspects of the design, from concept to detail, and I equally enjoy dealing with all spaces and aspects of the current job.

All photos by KeneK Photography, courtesy of Wexler Gallery.

Devices like the Amazon Alexa and Google Home have become common in the modern home. Though they were once considered futuristic, and even alarming, without thinking twice homeowners now have daily interactions with smart technology gadgets that save unprecedented amounts of time and eliminate the need for an alarm clock, radio, kitchen timer, newspaper, or light switch. Now that these devices have become so easily accessible to even the most minimalist homeowners, the bar for what is considered luxury smart technology is set higher.

Celebrities and techies alike are investing in smart technology not only for convenience — many luxury listings boast having lights, heating, and cooling controlled at the touch of the button — but for security, as smart technology has made it possible for homeowners to unlock their doors through an app, view footage of their doorstep in real time and receive notifications about their smoke or carbon monoxide alarms remotely.

Many new luxury apartment towers are attracting tenants by highlighting the building’s built-in smart technology. In addition to amenities like keyless entry, hands-free control of lights, temperature, security systems and pet feeders, some luxury apartment owners will soon have their cars robotically parked. While this technology is still in development, researchers are hopeful that artificial intelligence will be able to precisely park cars much closer together and in a more uniform fashion than human drivers would, eliminating the need for large parking garages, according to The Independent. Drivers would simply wait a few minutes for a robot to retrieve their car, and then when they return home, a robot would park their car back in its place, approximately four inches from its neighbor.

This five-bed, five-bath luxury listing in Chicago is equipped with technology by Control4: Home Automation and Smart Home Systems. Control4 allows homeowners to have voice control throughout the entire home, smart lighting, and intelligent security among other amenities.

Photos courtesy of d’aprile properties.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

This five-bed, six-bath Los Angeles listing is also equipped with Control4 for both security and entertainment purposes — light, sound, locks and screens can be adjusted with a simple swipe.

While the average homeowner may not have a heated driveway or plant watering system that they control from their smartphone like Oprah Winfrey, the increasing accessibility of smart home technology makes the possibilities for a luxury home endless.

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