Just about everybody displays pieces of artwork in their homes, and just about everybody benefits from using technology in their homes too. Tech, and art, are two twin facets of modern living which are naturally harmonious because one helps to bring us physical comfort and convenience, and the other emotional nourishment and well-being. The lines between the two have often become blurred; most notably through innovative design, helping to bring the abstract qualities of art into the realm of the everyday.
Nowadays we can add a third dimension, too, as the internet of things imbues our homes with more personality, interactivity and responsibility than ever before. It all points to a new way of living and experiencing our lives through the prism of what the artist can curate for us. But how far can we go? Is it possible to create, say, tech for art’s sake? In other words, for tech to be completely subservient to the pursuit of personal fulfillment through the abstractions and revelations of great art?
Johan Holmgren and Victor Press are the founders of Curater, a unique product that uses ground-breaking technology to present artists with a blank canvas, not just in their studios, but in the homes of people across the world. Using a high definition, ultra-thin canvas powered by LED, that works using a Banana Pi operating system, has built in Wi-Fi, and can be controlled from a smartphone or tablet, the idea is to project the works of carefully selected artists onto the canvases, which people can install in their own homes, through a series of exhibitions each year.
“To be able to consume art on a digital platform we had to create a new type of product that lets people enjoy the true experience of an art piece. Something no computer or smartphone can accomplish today,” explains Johan.
Curater is set to begin as a closed subscription based project that is invitation only on curater.com, however the duo are making it possible to register interest in advance, with the chance to win one of 50 free frames that will be randomly allocated to the subscriber base when the product is officially released.
The project is ground breaking and leverages Johan and Victor’s vast experience, respectively as head of Research and Development, and Chairman of Acne, the marketing and communications group with offices in Stockholm, Berlin, London and Los Angeles.
“We have so much experience of creating great brand experiences for our clients, and now we feel like creating our own experience, taking our inspiration from the art world”, explains Johan. “The digitalization of art has been a long time coming, and Curater is an opportunity to do something really powerful, that gives artists, rather than the product itself, the centre stage.”
“You know the great feeling you have after you have been to the MOMA, for example? We thought, what if we could create that same great feeling for people to enjoy not just when they are traveling and experiencing other cultures, but as a part of their everyday lives”, adds Victor.
The project throws up all sorts of artistic possibilities: the idea is to have 6-8 fully curated exhibitions each year, involving established and up and coming artistic talent from a wide range of backgrounds, with a corresponding variety of approaches to the blank canvas. A piece of art could evolve, for example, from a few brush strokes on a Monday morning, to a fully-fledged portrait by Friday evening, or a variety of challenging and contrasting images displayed at pre-arranged times for maximum impact and affinity with factors such as time of day or weather patterns.
It is certainly a singular idea and the exclusivity of the project is likely to be one of its selling points. Victor refers to Netflix and its ability to provide exclusive content such as the critically acclaimed “House of Cards” series, available only to Netflix subscribers. “We want to create new revenue streams for our artists as well as providing them with a world class platform to show what they can do”, he says, “the artists will receive the majority of the revenue, and they can exhibit to a diverse and global audience”. Anyone who owns the product will feel part of the experiment.
So far Johan and Victor will not reveal which artists they will feature, but, being well connected to the art scene in Stockholm and abroad, they have made it their ambition to display “some of the best art in the world”. This might imply that Curater is a product strictly for the rich or well-to-do, but their monthly pricing structure is in fact not prohibitive. “The frame will cost in the range of an iphone and the subscription fee will be reasonable.
So far the product’s development has been funded by Acne, the Company plans to build 500 devices for release in 2015, but Victor and Johan say that have begun to look for collaborative partners and are keen to talk to investors and interested parties.
The product is scalable, high quality, and must be one of the few examples of Tech disrupting art, rather than vice versa. The age of the democratization of artistic viewing platforms could be upon us, changing the way we interact with the artist…forever? The revolution may not be televised, but it will be broadcast!