The future of exhibitions in the digital age.
Since the emergence of Covid-19 and resulting self-quarantine, thousands of museums, cultural institutions, festivals, and global happenings have temporarily shuttered operations, leaving behind empty streets and a restless public. In a sector that thrives on in-person connection, the loss of an audience is disastrous, yet resilient performers, institutions, galleries, even entire art fairs, are moving to the digital arena, using streaming services and virtual reality, manifesting live concerts on apps, and launching online-only spaces.
An online exhibition is an event that can be viewed on computers and mobile phones using the internet anywhere, any place, and any time. It is one of the best ways of disseminating digital information in any area including exhibiting culture and heritage, archives, library information, marketing, trade shows, conference exhibits, and educating visitors 365 days a year. Online exhibitions provide a practical and cost-effective solution and overcome the limitations of physical exhibitions and also provide very good interactivity to users. Nowadays, archivists and museums professional are exploiting the advantages of online exhibitions for education and instructional purposes. The virtual exhibition is the collection of digital replicas of real events or objects developed with the help of multimedia and virtual reality tools which produce a simulated environment on a computer and delivered through web so that users will get the same satisfaction as they are seeing or using the physical objects in real life.
The difference between online and virtual exhibitions is marginal. All virtual exhibitions are online exhibitions but not vice versa. Normally all virtual exhibitions will provide a simulated real environment which is a bit more difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to develop than a simple online exhibition. Technologies and online exhibitions go hand in hand. In fact, the technologies made these online exhibitions possible in the first place.
The move to digital exhibition formats has been a long time coming. The online display has taken on many forms, with new ways of connecting and sharing seemingly blossoming overnight. There was always a sense of the next challenge: the transition from online presentations to physical exhibitions. This time, of course, it is different. In the light of a global pandemic, artists, curators, and institutions are turning to the internet to explore new ways of exhibiting online both for the short term as well as the long.
As many trends in the art world go, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all, but a common theme of engagement runs through these formats: relating to and meeting audiences where they are. In thinking of how one, as a photographer, can not only relate to these shifts but also apply them to one’s own work, it is worth looking at their various forms, benefits, and challenges.