When we think of the classical definition of viewing art, the word robots rarely springs to mind. However, due to Tate Britain’s most recent award, the IK Prize, we may be met with the future sooner than we think.
The artist collective, ‘the Workers’ made up of Tommaso Lanza, Ross Cairns and David Di Duca, have won the digital prize this month for their innovative idea. They plan to release robots into the gallery at night with the purpose of enabling the humble likes of you and I to browse one of the world’s most vast art collections from the comfort of our beat-up sofas.
That exclusive exhibition running for only 3 days in term time is now no longer out of reach. Having to brave the west midlands train to London is no longer an issue. Not only will we be able to experience 500 years’ worth of British Art from a mere remote control, but the added thrill of roaming the museum after-hours is a sure fire way to clinch our interest.
When considering the brief for the prize, it is certain that ‘the Workers’ have met its criteria – their idea will most definitely allow a wider audience to connect with the Tate collection through digital technology. But will the public be able to interact with Tate Britain as a museum, and not simply a building of storage?
Gone are the days where taking a cultural visit to the museum was a novelty. We must not forget the therapeutic qualities of the vast white walled gallery space, the lazy Sunday visit, and most of all the unique experience we get from viewing a physical work of art. The history, the technical artistic qualities and emotion evoked from being in such close proximity of centuries old artworks all come into play when deciding whether a robot can really replace our traditional way of viewing art.
After all, it is not for nothing that every year around 6 million people visit the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris. If we wanted to experience her infamous smile through a screen, we would have just googled her.