The Impact of the Digital

Wednesday, 8 December 2021, 12:00:00 am UTC

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Session Convenors

Michelle Guo, independent

Session Moderators

Michelle Guo, independent

Session Speakers

Simon Ives, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Anne Gérard-Austin, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Jessi England, National Gallery of Australia
Michelle Guo, Independent
Claire Osborn-Li, freelance games writer

This panel will explore the impact of new digital technologies on the display of culture. COVID-19 has pushed the art and culture industry to more seriously and urgently consider virtual alternatives for their in-person programming that they previously may have been hesitant to adopt. Digital technologies became a fundamental medium through which museums and other cultural institutions can remotely engage with their travel-restricted audiences. They can function as a supplement, compliment or even an alternative to the physical exhibition. With the cautious gradual re-opening of museums and galleries worldwide, digital technologies will remain a core tenet of exhibition planning and programming. Using virtual exhibition technologies, social media and online cultural events case studies, this panel will examine how museums have been successful and unsuccessful at engaging their audiences.

PAPER #1
Henry VR

PRESENTERS
Simon Ives and Anne Gérard-Austin, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Conservation science has long employed analytical imaging techniques in the production of material data for art historical analysis. However, the deployment of these for the purpose of augmented sensory investigation and analysis is new to art history and curatorship. In May 2018, the Art Gallery of NSW presented its very first VR exhibition, Henry VR, focusing on the restoration of a Tudor portrait of Henry VIII in the Gallery’s collection. The rare portrait underwent scanning on the X-ray fluorescence (XRF) beamline of the Australian Synchrotron particle accelerator. This produced beautiful high-res elemental maps which provided insight into the process of making of the painting and guided the conservation treatment. Henry VR imaginatively staged these analytics through a VR installation situated alongside the actual restored painting. Employing affective, sensorial immersion, it transported viewers into a 16th-century London artists’ workshop, before teleporting inside the Synchrotron. The project enhanced the gallery’s image as a 21st-century museum by showing how fresh light can be thrown on old works through new technologies. This pioneering installation has since travelled to Lausanne, in a modified format to fit the exhibition Deep Fakes: Art and its Double which focuses on the array of new technologies applied to art.

PAPER #2
What Virtual Museum Exhibitions Can Learn From Video Games

PRESENTERS
Michelle Guo, independent
Claire Osborn-Li, freelance games writer

With the forced closure of art galleries and museums in 2020, came the proliferation of museum virtual exhibitions. This was a move made out of necessity; like the fallen tree in the uninhabited forest, if a museum exhibition is put on with no one to see it, did it even occur? Virtual exhibitions are not a new exhibition medium, however restrictions on in-person exhibition attendance have catalysed the widespread adoption of virtual exhibition technologies. Majority of these exhibitions use technologies exemplified by Google Arts and Culture – adapting Google Maps-like web mapping software to turn the museum exhibition into merely another ‘Street View’. The paper will juxtapose the virtual exhibition design conventions established by Google Arts and Culture with various ways that video games (re)present museum spaces in phenomenologically interesting and engaging ways. Virtual exhibitions need not to completely replicate or truly replace the physical gallery-going experience. However, museums should embrace the ways that accessibility, immersion, social togetherness, embodiment, and spatiality can be reimagined in virtual spaces. Looking at the innovative ways that video games have played with these concepts is a step towards a more dynamic, medium-sensitive form of exhibition making that takes full advantage of what the digital platform has to offer.

PAPER #3
Know My Name Virtual Conference: Innovation, Access and Gender Equity

PRESENTERS
Jessi England, National Gallery of Australia

Know My Name Virtual Conference celebrated all women as artists, activists, researchers, intellectuals and mentors now and into the future. From 10–13 November 2020, the online, accessible Conference brought together leading and emerging Australian and international voices and thinkers from arts and academia to consider historical and contemporary experiences of gender in the arts. Foregrounding diverse voices and with First Nations perspectives embedded across the program, the event included keynotes, panel discussions, newly commissioned video works, audience Q&A’s and facilitated participatory sessions for delegates. The most ambitious and complex digital event presented by the NGA to date, the conference set a new benchmark for how online cultural events are delivered and experienced, that has been widely recognised in the sector. Through a purpose-built platform and in what we believe was an Australian first, delegates had the opportunity to choose from Auslan interpretation plus captions, audio description or regular feed, with a shared discussion and questions interface. Eighteen months in development and produced and presented by the National Gallery of Australia, the Conference was developed in collaboration with partners the Australia Council for the Arts, Australian National University School of Art & Design, University of Melbourne and UNSW Art & Design.

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Biographies

Michelle Guo, Independent

Michelle is an emerging fashion/art curator, writer and historian. She holds a B.A (Hons) majoring in Art History and Sociology from University of Melbourne. Her Honour's thesis critiqued the rise of fashion exhibitions in museum spaces. She is interested in interactions and intersections of art and fashion with culture more broadly.


Simon Ives, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Simon Ives is Paintings Conservator at the Art Gallery of NSW. He gained a Masters degree Fine Art Conservation (specialism in easel paintings) at UNAN (UK) in 1994 and worked at Tate Gallery (London) and NGA (Canberra). He has written on artists materials and techniques and is interested in interactive museum presentations of conservation analytics.


Anne Gérard-Austin, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Anne Gérard-Austin is Assistant Curator of International Art at the Art Gallery of NSW. She obtained her PhD in art history at the University of Sydney in 2014. Her research focused on the reception of Australian art in the context of late 19th century Paris.


Jessi England, National Gallery of Australia

Jessi England has been working in the arts, cultural and creative industries sectors for over 20 years and is currently Program and Campaign Manager, Know My Name at the National Gallery of Australia. Through the role she has managed the development and delivery of the Gallery’s Know My Name initiative and the National Gallery’s industry leading Gender Equity Action Plan. Jessi Co-Chaired and Co-Produced the Know My Name Virtual Conference.


Claire Osborn-Li

Claire (she/her) is a freelance games writer. She graduated from University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts in 2019 and is currently completing her Honours year in Art History. She is interested in the ways in which contemporary art can learn from video games, and in analysing video games from an art historical or theoretical lens.