25 Oct 2008

Art in the virtual world

(Nalini S Malaviya)

In this electronic age where technology has pervaded every aspect of our lives how can art be left behind? The virtual art fraternity is replete with artists, galleries, collectors and connoisseurs. An online presence is a highly effective tool to network with members with common interests. While social networking sites have made news for a variety of reasons, there are now a growing number of networking sites dedicated to art. Online networking provides an edge over peers, offers a much larger reach and is an effective PR and marketing medium. All this at minimal costs (or often free). Another major advantage is the rapidity with which information is exchanged resulting in faster turnaround time.

Earlier the trend was more towards setting up websites to showcase artworks and art related services. Whereas now, blogs have emerged as a popular and free-to-use platform that offers similar, although somewhat limited facilities as a website, but is a great way to create an online presence. Easy to use and even easier to update and maintain, blogs can be used for marketing oneself and to reach out to a wider audience.

In the virtual world, where geographic or regional boundaries do not exist it is easy to relate to likeminded people. Dedicated social sites on art offer an exclusive platform to different players from the art community. Exchange of knowledge, expertise, views, statistics and the latest buzz allow valuable interaction between members.
Similarly, online newsletters and publications enhance exposure to art related events and news from across the world. While all these provide a valuable platform to the artist, they also offer the buyer wider access to information.

As we can see there are numerous benefits in being active on an online forum, but there are a few disadvantages that one should be aware of. These may not be specific to art related sites but it helps to go over them. As online identities can be misleading, it is important to check out the credentials of the person you are interacting with. Similarly, when any financial transaction is involved one should be extra cautious about use of credit card or divulging personal details. With that in mind sometimes a moderated networking site works out better.
In any case, it is always advisable to follow Netiquette when expressing oneself. So, go ahead and create a virtual presence to either showcase your art or to learn more about art.

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

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