The digital age sells the message ‘complex personal, creative, and cultural collaborations’ can be replaced by the right skill sets coming together in virtual conjunction. Solnit suggests this results in a loss. From her perspective something like art shown in an online context might suffer detrimentally in ways that are ‘subtle and hard to describe, especially compared to the wonders of what can be uploaded, downloaded, and Googled, and the convenience and safety of never leaving your house or never meeting a stranger.’ (1)
What’s missing is perhaps concerned with browsing, chance, surprise, risk – uncovering the thing you didn’t know you were looking for that might allow your world to grow in significant and surprising ways – all things impossible to Google for. ‘The virtual version rips out the heart of the thing, shrink-wraps it, sticks a barcode on, and throws the rest away.’ (1)
Technology / commerce cannot cope with subtle, ambiguous complexity that’s difficult to describe and articulate, so it misses ‘myriad little epiphanies and encounters that knit me more tightly into my place and maybe enhance the place overall’. (1)
So I suppose the issues to focus on in my research is, can an online gallery experience offer browsing, chance, surprise and risk? Can it cope with subtle, ambiguous complexity that’s difficult to describe? How does it avoid being about efficiency, safety, speed, predictability and productivity, and focus on epiphanies, alliances, associations, meanings, purposes, and pleasures?
(1) Rebecca Solnit, Finding Time, Orion Magazine, accessed 19th October 2015