As we enter a brave new era of digital immersion, both public institutions and private art enthusiasts are searching for fresh, innovative portals to optimized creative experiences. Between the rise of collaborative, historically informed curation and an increased demand for multi-dimensional entertainment, galleries, museums, educators, and home-owners are deeply invested in both flexibility and authenticity when it comes to viewership. Add COVID into the mix, and there’s another layer of remotely operative convenience to be considered.
This leaves art purveyors with a complicated set of technological concerns — real estate solutions, augmented reality, privacy, archival availability, resolution, the list goes on. Enter WallMuse, a French-founded application that offers affordable, easy access to high-definition art in the environment of the viewer’s choice. But what does this all mean for the future of digital integration? Let’s find out.
What is WallMuse?
The magic of WallMuse lies in its member-based digital exhibition platform that allows users to securely upload their digitized artworks in the form of images, soundtracks, or videos to curate synchronized, multi-screen art shows. These shows consist of sequentially displayed artworks on one or several screens or projector tracks. Information about those artworks can be automatically displayed before or after each piece on a dedicated track. There are orientation and animation options, too, to add flavor and dimension.
How it works
Vitally, the player displaying the exhibitions is encrypted from end to end and downloaded through a secured channel with a different key every single time, which ensures the files cannot be copied by outside sources. This is great news on the copyright front, especially; WallMuse’s shared business model is transparent to art professional users, since it shares its revenues with rights holders. Since the audience is based on the cumulative duration of the viewing of each piece of content, says Alexandre Khan, WallMuse’s Project Coordinator, “it’s not a ‘click here and there’ or ‘down scrolling’ experience. Once configured, after ‘one click,’ [users] can be surrounded by the exhibitions.”
The museum application
This brings us to the SHAREX project, a larger-scale deployment of WallMuse’s digital exhibition model that has found partners in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the Metropolitan Organization of Museums of Visual Arts of Thessaloniki, and the AVIFF Cannes Art Film Festival. Funded by Creative Europe, a $1.46-billion European Union program for the cultural and creative sectors that ran between 2014 and 2020, the objective of SHAREX is to facilitate cooperation between galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, as well as festivals and art centers.
This is accomplished through “batch processing,” which enables professionals to specify multiple artworks in one process. The Parallax effect of WallMuse’s layered presentations give two-dimensional works a three-dimensional effect, and its “3D interactive restitutions” of sculptures, installations, and monuments provide viewers with multi-angle, immersive captures of free-standing artistic objects. “Through account delegations,” adds Kahn, “different museums, festivals and digital collections can co-curate new digital exhibitions, and all rights are handled by the platform.”
The JCC Angle
While nothing is ever going to replace the experience of seeing artworks in person, our collective experience with COVID is alerting museums to an overarching need for collaboration and digital outreach, particularly as popular cultural tastes develop outside the institutional realm.
Applications like WallMuse don’t just provide a lush new framework for high-end decor, but promise greater fluidity in inter-museum loan management, acquisition, and traveling exhibition planning. The blockbuster Van Gogh Alive immersive exhibition or the Detroit Institute of Art’s premiere of the Google-backed Lumin virtual tour software are just two examples of the ways in which audience appetites are shifting. WallMuse’s user-activated, durational model feels especially contemporary, centering the agency of members and art professionals as the crux of its business strategy.