Exercise 5.4; Online exhibitions

I found the Looking at the Land exhibition very interesting. I paritcularly liked the way that the images had been put together with patterns repeating from one image to the next, e.g Clinging Vine and Independence Rock; or Imperial Sand Dunes and Plane. Very different subjects but related to each other by patterns.

The exhibition had three ways of looking at it;

  • As a slide show with a set timed interval between each transition
  • As a slide show but where the viewer can click on the next image to go at a faster pace
  • As a light box where the viewer can click on an individual image to view it.

This latter point did seem strange as it appeared that a lot of thought had been put into the sequencing of the slide show so why allow viewers to click through in any order?

The slide show itself was impressive and the quality of the photos excellent. It led me to think though, what is lost when work is viewed online rather than physically displayed? Firstly the images are being viewed in all sorts of formats – large monitor, smaller laptop, ipad/tablet, possibly even a mobile phone. The way in which colours are rendered by all of these devices is outside the control of the curator, different people could have vastly different experiences depending on the device used.

This could also apply to the size of the screen used to view the pictures. Having visited gallery exhibitions, e.g. Gursky at the Hayward or Tillmans at the Tate, the sheer physicality and scale of the images played a considerable part in my viewing and appreciation of them. This just is not applicable to online exhibitions, I suppose the exhibition could be cast to a large screen TV or even projected on to a screen, but very few people would have the equipment or the desire to set this up.

This is some of what is lost, but there is one very large gain, without the online exhibition I would never have had the opportunity to see any of these images for myself. There are only so many physical gallery spaces available and most of these are subject to the individual whims of the curator.

Perhaps the online gallery is a more ‘democratic’ display, but one must accept its limitations.