Over the past couple of years, debates have been proliferating about whether museums and galleries can still provide a backdrop for truly new and experimental art, but many in the art world have already figured out how to show their artwork in exciting new contexts via VR and AR technology. These emerging types of technologies, and novel ways of experiencing contemporary art, are the driving forces behind Digital Art Month, a celebration of digital and new media art that launched in New York City on October 1. Originally launched by the New Art Academy in 2017 and now run by its associated art fair CADAF, Digital Art Month presents curated exhibitions located throughout various public spots in New York City and online.
Over the following month, over 70 works of Augmented Reality and video art will be discoverable throughout New York City in locations such as along Broadway in SoHo from Houston to Canal, the Meatpacking District and Madison Avenue. Rather like a contemporary art version of Pokemon Go, pedestrians will be able to seek out and discover new works of art by locating the QR codes in various neighborhoods across the city via use of the event map on Digital Art Month’s website. Then, using Instagram or Snapchat, these QR codes can be scanned and activated and the previously-invisible art will reveal itself.
“There are a lot of artists who we’re showing that discovered this medium that’s kind of like the language of the generation,” CADAF director Andrea Steuer told Observer in an interview. “Everyone uses these filters, so [artists] started introducing their art into these filters,” Steuer explained, and from those experiments a new art movement has evolved.
“It’s really democratizing; everyone can participate in this art show,” Elena Zavelev, the founder and CEO of CADAF and New Art Academy, added. Zavelev also explained that Digital Art Month is partnering with brands like Sephora and the Pierre Hotel. “It’s a great thing for the city for certain neighborhoods where the commerce isn’t moving.”
During a time in which public monuments and statuary are being debated constantly, this kind of futuristic methodology wherein artists can place their artwork on the backdrop of reality without having to jump through civic hoops feels particularly forward-thinking.