By Tara Rudd, EY Alumni – Brand, Marketing and Communications
When you get out your phone in an art gallery it feels like you’re doing something wrong: you’re zoning out, switching off, being anti-social, locked into the screen, which means lack of focus, distraction and disrespect to the artwork. But, there’s a place for smartphones in art galleries and we shouldn’t ‘dis’ the screen.
When I’m typing notes on my phone I get scathing looks from some people, it frustrates me – it’s a learning enhancer not a distraction
The other week I was told off by a security guard for taking photos on my phone. When I explained I was only using my phone to jot down my thoughts about the artwork, I was told ‘no interaction with phones’ was allowed – I’d have to get a pen and paper to do so, neither of which the security man or I had to hand.
When I’m typing notes on my phone and I get scathing looks from some people, it frustrates me. ‘Look at her not appreciating the art’. No, that is exactly what I am doing! When I’m typing on my phone it’s because I’m pumping with appreciation for the artist whose works I’m viewing, bouncing ideas off my screen; it’s a learning enhancer not a distraction, a canvas, a muscle to flex my thoughts, interact with and capture them to stir over later, develop deeper, write something from.
I’m not saying they’re the new paintbrush but phones are also increasingly important tools in creating art, art that could not have been made without them. For example: some of Ai Weiwei’s art is social media, and spread via it; James Bridle’s work (‘Dronestagram’); and film’s made on iPhones: Taxi Teheran, Tangerine.
In a content saturated, always-on world I think it’s more important than ever to jot things down to remember, so they sink in
Having portable computers in our hands opens the opportunity for everyone to try and be an artist, a photographer, journalist, student (of the internet)- through smartphones art has become more social and accessible. Some art events heavily encourage you to use your phone. Share, tweet, join in the discussion, get involved (e.g. indie low budget documentary Q&A’s e.g. They Will Have to Kill Us First; The Look of Silence; Cartel Land). They accept there’s a time to put your phone away during the screening but an essential need for it, too, in discussion after.
In a content saturated, always-on world I think it’s more important than ever to jot things down to remember, so they sink in. Especially with artwork; it’s so interesting to explore how it makes you feel, in that moment, appreciation of art based on impulse. And you can type faster than you can write, which allows a fresher, impulsive lens to critiquing art.
There’s a place for smartphones in art galleries and we shouldn’t ‘dis’ the screen
I understand there are definitely moments when it is good to switch off, put away the phone, however I think it would be good if smartphones were accepted just a little less rigidly in some places.
Visit our website to learn more about The EY Tate Arts Partnership.