Wednesday 30 December 2015

Growing on me

A friend sent me a link just before Christmas to something I'd missed earlier this year - the NYT 'walkthrough' of Matisse's cut-outs at MOMA.

I'd be hesitant to call this an 'interactive' (even if they do) as there's no interaction beyond being able to horizontally scroll forwards and backwards. (I instinctively tried to click images a few times, to get zoomable versions or more information). As you move along, the info panels quietly update, in the manner of encountering a wall text as you enter a new gallery in the exhibition (I would've actually liked more of a cue that the text was updating so as to notice it more quickly - also, they're rather long on the lyricism and short on the fact).

At first, I really disliked the flattened approach. I've always enjoyed the art of laying out an exhibition in a three-dimensional space, the use of sightlines to lead you through the experience, the way works hung on intermediary walls can be part of more than one grouping. These full-frontal composite photos flatten out the viewing experience, and really do emphasise the nature of 'scrolling'. The one photo that does give you the sense of a built space instead of a flat page - above - is the weakest point in the experience. I wonder how it would (or wouldn't?) work for sculptural objects?

And yet, as I spent time with it, it grew on me. As my friend observed, it's far more enjoyable than that ghastly Google Street View zooming-around-galleries thing, which I dislike using (though I appreciate what the project's done in terms of loosening digital constraints). And I became quite fond of the intentionally unsmoothed photo composites, the places where walls and floors didn't line up.

And then I realised that fondness stems from years of enjoying encounters with Peter McLeavey's composite photos (modelled here by Robert Leonard and Jacqueline Fraser in 1986).

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