Is the Digital Era Improving or Ruining the Experience of Art?

The New York Times | Natalie Proulx

Have you been to an art museum recently? What was your visit like? How did you experience the art? How did other patrons interact with it? In “What the Mona Lisa Tells Us About Art in the Instagram Era,” Scott Reyburn writes: The young couple moved to the front of the crowd to look at the painting. After a few seconds, the woman turned around, smiled into her cellphone and took some selfies. Next, she handed her device to her husband, who took more formal shots of her in front of the work. The two then posed arm in arm for selfies together, turned to have a last brief look at the painting — and moved away.

“It’s too small, and it’s too crowded to get close to look at the detail,” said the woman, Jeannie Li, 28, a financial analyst in Shanghai, unimpressed by her first sight of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” “I can see it better in a book or on the internet.” The way the couple interacted with the 500-year-old painting exemplifies how differently the digital generation experiences art. Most of the roughly 150 people crowded around the painting at the Louvre were taking photographs of the piece, or of themselves in front of it. In the presence of the “Mona Lisa,” digital photography, more than looking at the actual artwork, has become the primary experience…read more

Image: Pedro Fiuza/NurPhoto — Sipa, via Associated Press