The answer to the question, “What is art?” will no longer be “That which is in museums and galleries”, but, “That which looks good on the internet.”

I’m not so concerned about the accuracy of the prediction; I find it a reasonable bet. What bothers me is the extent to which the digitalized image separates us from the essential physical character of the artwork.

In creating an artwork, especially from imagination, the nature of the materials influences the process. The subtle traces of this which remain can be some of the most powerful aspects of the physical work itself. And yet these are easily lost in the digital reproduction. A striking example I have seen of this is in Michelangelo’s drawings. The drawings which I studied in the recent exhibition in Haarlem have great power, but this is mostly lost in the internet reproductions.

The Sistine Chapel ceiling does as poorly on the internet as the study drawings, but for a different reason; the awesome, encompassing quality of the work is lost when it is reduced to a miniature flat image on the computer monitor.

If this can happen to Michelangelo, what are the implications for artists today who wish to use the web as their exhibition space? Will the medium distort and degrade the artist’s methods as he or she attempts to create “That which looks good on the internet”?

Fall of the Art World