From the 18th to the 22nd October 2017 The Asian Now Fair, the first “boutique art fair” of Asian Contemporary Art, was taking place on avenue Hoche, Paris. Among amazing collections, debates where held notably on the future of collecting and the place of the digital into exhibiting collections.
Karen and Sylvain Levy, collectors of the virtually accessible DSL Collection, were discussing “Collecting and Virtual Reality” with Kamiar Maleki, also a collector and the curator of the Hashtag Abstract exhibition – held form the 2nd July to 15th August 2015, Rochini Gallery, London. The living debate questioned the implementation of virtual reality into exhibitions, throughout the following problematic: is a museum still the best place for discovering art?
Statistics displayed during the debate showed that if 81% of the public consider art as an entertainment, 34% of the public don’t feel comfortable to enter into a museum. Museums are thus facing an issue of democratization and drawing power. The solution suggested by the DSL Collection is a personal and portable museum, from which anyone would be able to access throughout its mobile or a virtual reality device. The purpose being to provide a more entertaining and personalised experience. Before the suspicious Karen Levy insisted that “the idea is not to replace the real but to give the real another dimension”.
Moreover, virtual reality devices can bring art to the ones that cannot go physically into museums, and here we particularly think about the elderly or disabled people. Nothing can supplant the real, recalled Kamiar Maleki while adding “I really believe that technology can bring people together”.
Finally Sylvain Levy talked about the financial prospects of implementing digital into a museum. Giving the example of one Marina Abramović performance seen more than 14 million times on the internet, Sylvain Levy sustained that people would be ready to pay for interesting contents displayed by a museum. Looking at the success of online entertainment platforms such as Netflix, we cannot agree more with M. Levy that there is definitely a future to explore for museums in the digital world.