Thursday, January 22, 2009

Assisted Viewing and The Frantic Eye

From Art News Blog:

"Prado Museum on Google Earth

Google Earth is an amazing tool that just keeps getting better and it's still FREE. Over the years I have spent hours looking down on our fascinating little planet with Google Earth.

Now Google has made it even more compelling for artists to download as they're opening museums up and taking us inside. No longer content with looking down on art museums from above, they have zoomed in on paintings hanging on the walls. They have gone in armed with some amazing technology too, revealing every crack and brush stroke on each painting."

Pretty cool stuff. I really hope that other museums jump on this and let Google photograph their pieces. The detail is pretty amazing, and, since I'm not going to Spain anytime soon, it's the closest I can get to the real thing for a while.

As I was looking, it struck me as odd how different my experience of the paintings felt when I was forced to view it through the lens and controls of GoogleEarth. I realized that when I look at a painting, my eye jumps around really quickly from place to place, zooming in and out quickly. It felt really weird to have to laboriously slide the zoom control, and to manually "scan" the paintings in such a cumbersome way.

Obviously people don't really look at paintings like that, but it made me think about how we look at paintings --have our collective eyes evolved over time? Sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time and constantly multitasking, my eyes jumping back and forth between my two monitors, between different browser tabs, IM, poker tables, GoogleReader, etc -- does that affect how I see paintings?

I think it does, but I'm not sure exactly how. Wil made a great post a while back that had a bunch of interesting articles that I am going to re-read. I'll post more thoughts later.

I'm starting to suspect that my job as an artist is to somehow trick people's frenetic, ADD, Web 2.0 eyes (mine included) into slowing down and looking at my work.

Also, did you know that women see as much as 30% more colors than men???? WTF? Why am I cursed?

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