Social media is like fast food – rapidly consumed for instant gratification. No wonder social media demeans art. Artworks that instantly seduce online become tedious when contemplated over time in the flesh. Once art goes viral, it gains traction, particularly in the market, and becomes unjustifiably acclaimed. Museums may be keen to reach new audiences, but can great masterpieces really be appreciated on the miniature canvas of your mobile phone screen? Shrink art and you shrink its power – no one can really believe they've experienced an artwork without examining the ideas and the artist's mastery of their medium. And this is an even bigger issue when it comes to experiential artworks such as performance or virtual reality.
What nostalgic nonsense, say digital art fans. Attacking social media is like attacking photography in the 19th century. The internet is the medium of the age. To ignore it is to reject the future. For existing masterpieces, social media is the key to all the world’s museums and galleries. No longer are works hidden away in dusty storage rooms in another country. With a simple swipe of your finger you can explore artworks you never knew existed, prompted by suggestions from people you admire. Commercially, the online art market is estimated to have grown to over $3 billion in 2016. At last, art has become truly democratic, open to all to view and buy.
This debate took place in Hong Kong on 23rd March 2017. Arguing for the motion were internationally acclaimed artist Ryan Gander and curator for the Encounters sector of Art Basel Hong Kong Alexie Glass-Kantor.
Arguing against the motion were the Director of Indonesia's Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara, Aaron Seeto, and international art advisor and founder of FSA Art Advisory, Lisa Schiff.
The debate was chaired by Tim Marlow, Director of London's Royal Academy of Arts.