It’s no question: social media has affected the art world. “Discovering” an artist from the palm of your hand isn’t quite a discovery. It’s more a lucky byproduct of lounging on the couch with your phone. That said, social media has made art increasingly accessible. I can travel from Sydney to Iceland to New York in seconds, viewing and critiquing artists’ work.
But there’s a new development: virtual art galleries—art galleries designed and curated for the social media browser. Snapchat launched one this past week to celebrate Black History Month.
So how does it work? You open the new rainbow-colored lens in the app and see a selfie frame with a Black History Month banner. You then flip the camera to enter an AR gallery. Suddenly you’re transported into a minimalist white space that resembles a real gallery. The exhibit’s title, “For Us, By Us: Art Through the Eyes of Black Millennials,” appears and is accompanied by the millennials’ art itself.
You don’t scroll by this art, as you would on your feed. You stroll. Mashable writes: “The color and layers of each piece draw you in, and you are actually able to get close and explore the works in the digital space, by moving closer towards them in the physical world — your camera zooms into each piece as you approach.” This gallery show is an experience, not a presentation.
Snapchat’s success invites a few questions. Will real life art galleries stick around? Or will they fade away and be replaced by their virtual counterparts? Only time will tell. Let’s talk in 100 years.