Inspired by our image-saturated culture, French artist Leo Caillard has reimagined the Louvre as a digital library. He told Wired that the concept came to him after he saw that visitors stopped for only 5 seconds in front of each work, which he compared to the amount of time it would take to flip through images on a mobile phone or tablet.

The artist explained to Wired his reason for the series:

Digital technology is changing the way we consume culture. This is neither good or bad. A lot of very interesting art emerges from new tools of expression. But, like any change, it will take time for people to understand that we need art of the past and masterpiece paintings [in order] to make something interesting with digital creation. The future will let us know.

I think these images seem more like a challenge to museum to consider new ways to reorganize their art and find ways that we could interact with it. I believe it’s a challenge they are up to.

Writing on the Huffington Post a few months ago, James Elkins compiled some stats about how long people actually look at art in a museum:

There have been a number of surveys of how visitors interact with paintings in museums. One found that an average viewer goes up to a painting, looks at it for less than two seconds, reads the wall text for another 10 seconds, glances at the painting to verify something in the text, and moves on. Another survey concluded people looked for a median time of 17 seconds. The Louvre found that people looked at the Mona Lisa an average of 15 seconds, which makes you wonder how long they spend on the other 35,000 works in the collection. A survey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art supposedly found that people look at artworks for an average of 32.5 seconds each, but they must not have counted the ones people glance at.

hat tip @markart

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

One reply on “Imagining iMuseums”

  1. Interesting.. and it does speak to how little attention most pay to art and part of why. What I fear, though, is the uncritical culture around technology and things like Artstor and the like will eventually eat away at the numbers of people who actually visit museums or galleries to see real artwork up close. As we develop more and more screens at which we stare for larger portions of our lives we are coming more and more to equate that mediated experience with the real thing in many instances. This isn’t just a problem for art, but for how we live our actual lives.

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