Twitter, Facebook, iPhone apps, blogs, and wikis are fast making their way into how the art world operates. Today, information is expected online instantly.
With the art market in a sorry slump, innovative new technology is playing a role in attracting the attention of clients and visitors during a time when consumer spending is down. (Most Americans saw their net worth decline more than 11% in the July-September quarter last year, according to the Federal Reserve.)
Volatile economic times have given rise to a fierce competitiveness among museums, auction houses, auction websites, and galleries. One marketing tactic is to ramp up technology. In one week, iPhone apps to aid bidding at auction were announced as a revolutionary new service by two companies.
On July 15, bricks-and-mortar auction house Christie's issued a press release about their application aimed at people "on the run." With a few touches of the iPhone screen, potential bidders can browse hundreds of auctions and view post-sale price results.
The auction aggregate website LiveAuctioneers, which allows real-time online bidding at about 800 international auction houses, also unveiled an iPhone app yesterday featuring secure bidding.
LiveAuctioneers' CEO, Julian R. Ellison stated, "Anyone with this application loaded onto their iPhone will have instant access to any auction catalog listed on LiveAuctioneers and can even log in and leave absentee bids through our Secure Bidder Network (SBN). With SBN functionality, which is unique to LiveAuctioneers, your absentee bid is kept private and unknown to anyone until auction day, when it goes direct to the auction house."
Museums are also taking advantage of the latest tech-crazes, especially social media. The goal is to disperse information instantly to a large number of people and to engage them with the material.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been chatting away on Twitter, promoting events and dispatching little nuggets of information about the museum's collection. This week, LACMA started tweeting in Spanish, too.
The Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, maintains a mintwiki, an online resource about their exhibitions. Similar to the well-known Wikipedia, mintwiki says the site provides "a place for curators, educators, docents and other users to add their expertise, knowledge and insight about the exhibitions in an immediate and accessible way!"
Facebook has become a place for rousing discussions with museum curators and a superb tool for posting exhibition details, too. The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) had a well-publicized face(book)-off with art critic Jerry Saltz who challenged the museum over the lack of women artists represented.
This site, ARTFIXdaily, an online resource for aggregated art world news, exclusive blogs, event listings, and press releases, provides museums, galleries, and auctions houses with easy CMS tools to instantly disseminate information. Art world professionals can post images and news on art, antiques, and collectibles for free.
Of the 6.7 billion people on earth, almost 25% are active internet users, according to statistical reports. Emerging technology is connecting waves of people who are in turn discussing art, viewing art, and buying art. The hope is for some tsunami results.