Monday, March 04, 2013

The (mostly) Untapped Potential of Promoting Fine Art with Video

An estimated 65,000 people will visit The Armory Show over 5 days this coming week. That's perhaps a few more than we expect to stop into our gallery over the next, oh say, five to six years (and many of those will be multiple repeat visitors). So in terms of exposure to a wider audience for one of our artists (we're presenting a solo booth of amazing new work by Shane Hope, btw), there really is no comparison between what we can hope to accomplish in a solo exhibition in the gallery versus the numbers of people we can potentially get to know about and possibly purchase the work at The Armory Show. In a nutshell, this is why galleries do so many fairs. 

And yet, yesterday, in one Sunday afternoon (between about 3 pm and 10pm), because of one link on a popular blogger's website, our current exhibition by Yevgeniy Fiks was exposed to over 82,000 people, and counting. And they were not just exposed to his name and a few of his images, but to him as a person, via a video interview of him talking about his work. 

Now it helps that Yevgeniy is very good at talking about this work. And it helps that the subject matter of his current exhibition, Homosexuality is Stalin's Atom Bomb to Destroy America, offers plenty of compelling, cloak-and-dagger type narrative. But again, 82,000 views in one afternoon. And views of exactly what I want them to see: a relatively quick, effective communication of why we feel this show is important...a carefully considered presentation designed to encourage people to stop in and see the show. But not giving away too much...more simply piquing people's interest (yes, we received calls on a Sunday about when the show's hours are).

The video in question is an early example of a new online listings service. Called "GalleryLOG," it's designed like other online listing sites to help galleries promote their current exhibitions as well as serve as an archive of past exhibitions. [Full Disclosure: GalleryLOG is the brainchild of Bahram Safinia, whose company Safiniart has been a generous sponsor of the Moving Image Art Fair since its inception.]

We've been beta testing some of the earliest GalleryLOG videos with Bahram, and he's a dear friend of ours, but I'll confess that I had initial skepticism, because there have been efforts like this before and gallery listings sites have come and gone. 

That skepticism was entirely washed away in one afternoon. By having that video available on our website, the blogger was able to easily include it in his post about the show. Better than a single image, like a blogger would normally due in lieu of having a video to point to, the GalleryLOG piece communicated so much more to those 82,000 (and counting) viewers.

The video itself was created back before Hurricane Sandy, when Yevgeniy's exhibition was first installed. We had plenty of people who saw it back then say that it had greatly helped them navigate and appreciate the exhibition. That idea (to help viewers navigate and hopefully appreciate the exhibition) is one of the primary purposes of the gallery press release, but they're not always that good (even ours) at doing that. So it was in hearing this feedback from people that I realized what GalleryLOG has come up with is a much improved exhibition Press Release concept.

Of course, watching a video on a computer monitor is no substitute for seeing the art in person. In fact, a dealer friend of ours who we were trying to convince to try GalleryLOG guffawed that she wants people to come in and see their shows; "A video is no replacement for seeing the work in real life."  I told her I agree...that I didn't feel the video represented the show in any real sense (in fact, that's not even our gallery you see the art work installed in on the video). To my mind it's simply a better Press Release than the text we've spent hours crafting and have no easy way to judge how many people actually read. I've rarely had the feedback from a press release that we've received from this one video.

What I think stands to differentiate GalleryLOG strongly (and smartly) from other online gallery listing platforms is that they are limiting their service to effective promotion, and they're not trying to also get involved in the sales of artwork. No model that serves as middleman between a gallery and potential collector that I've seen (no matter how well intentioned, and there are some great people working on those models) seems to work from the vantage point of understanding that I really don't want a middleman between me and collectors. No offense, guys, you know I love you all, but as I've told many of you personally, offer me a promotional tool I can see is bringing new people my way and I'll be willing to pay you for it...but I don't want you standing between me and them once we finally meet.

More than just that where GalleryLOG is concerned, though, is the potential to reach so many more people with the precise, carefully constructed (and yet as complex as needed) message video seems perfectly suited to deliver. Education is undergoing a revolution at the moment, as teachers/professors are finding that certain concepts it used to take much longer to communicate are so much more quickly communicated and understood via an animation or video. Students are grasping things faster when they can see it, and so the use of moving images is exploding in classrooms (so much so that the Wall Street Journal recently asked if teachers will be needed in the future...the answer is yes, but...). 

The same applies for fine art, in my opinion. What we struggle to communicate about visual art, via often tortuous language, in a typical press release (which, unlike a longer response by an arts writer with the word count they need, has a customary shortness to it that often results in mangled language) can be so much more efficiently expressed in moving images.

And so, if you can't tell, I'm very excited about the potential here in promoting fine art. As part of their (soft, I think) launch in time for Armory Week, GalleryLOG also teamed up with our good friends at VOLTA to create an interesting set of videos for artists highlighted at that fair. Have a look at there and at their main site site. I do think they're onto something very possibly game-changing here.


Blogger Danielle said...

I was a little excited to read this post, because it has been on my mind lately to try documenting and talking about my artwork as it's in progress. Video updates from the studio, that sort of thing. I tend to lose my train of thought and go blank, or fall back on stock comments when asked about my work in person. But there's a continuity of thought when I'm alone. So, last night I made a short recording in my studio, with mixed results. I had a friend critique (highly suggested before posting/sharing if working alone).

Thanks for writing on this topic!

3/06/2013 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Larry said...

Has the "popular blogger," who has recently made his move to NYC very well-known through his blog, visited your gallery?

3/06/2013 12:54:00 PM  

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