RA Summer time Exhibition and Bloomberg New Contemporaries are digitized

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect our lives, arts organizations that rely on steady attendance at live events and exhibitions have particular problems. While some venues only allow limited visitor numbers for security reasons, other exhibitions and performances have had to cancel completely.

Inevitably, we've also begun experimenting with museums and art spaces with the ability to host exhibitions online instead, and this week we're going to digitize two established annual art events – the Royal Academy in London's Summer Exhibition and Bloomberg New Contemporaries.

The two organizations have taken different approaches to present the work to the public. The Royal Academy has partnered with WeTransfer to present the summer exhibition in a collaboration conceived by Uncommon Creative Studio that is a premiere for both parties.

Examples of the Royal Academy Summer Show on WeTransfer

This year's summer exhibition coordinators, Jane and Louise Wilson, and the Royal Academicians' summer exhibition committee selected works from over 18,000 submissions this year. They settled on a final group of 1,172 pieces, which will be featured at the Royal Academy itself and also available through WeTransfer's full screen wallpapers (the "wallpapers" that appear when you send files through the website).

The artwork will be displayed on WeTransfer in a "Lucky Dip" format. Every time you click the background image, new artwork will appear. WePresent, the editorial branch of WeTransfer, will also highlight comments from curators so viewers can learn more about the artists, themes, and ideas behind each work – in hopes of creating an experience that is akin to a guided tour.

Both the live version of the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy (which requires pre-booked tickets and which is valid until January 3rd) and the WeTransfer version, which is open this week, have been postponed from earlier this summer due to the pandemic . The hope is that the digital version will allow the show to reach a larger audience than ever before.

“The summer exhibition has been held every year since 1769, even during the war years. It is embedded in British culture and supports the artistic community and art education, ”says Edith Devaney, director of summer exhibitions and contemporary curator at the Royal Academy of Arts.

“This open, integrative and democratic show shows our visitors eagerly awaited creativity and joy. We are happy to have WeTransfer as a digital partner this year. As some of our visitors may not be able to visit in person due to Covid-19, this partnership allows us to improve the reach of the summer exhibition worldwide so that everyone can experience contemporary art that is now being produced. "

Images from the Bloomberg New Contemporaries website

Unlike the RA show, Bloomberg New Contemporaries took a more traditional approach to an online exhibit by creating a bespoke website showcasing the work of the artists selected this year. In typical years, BNC is a touring show and should appear in September at Humber Street Gallery and Ferens Art Gallery in Hull. However, in June the organizers decided to start digitally instead. The first real exhibition of the work took place in December at the South London Gallery.

The design for the website that Hato created was influenced by the time we are in and is heavily based on the "bubbles" theme. Each of the 36 artists selected this year has their own section on the website that contains images, videos and text about the work. Plus, they all worked with Hato to create the bubble-like identity.

The basis of the identity was built on a web app that enabled the 36 participating artists to help shape the identity in real time. With a simple painting gesture, the app enabled each artist to fill and occupy their own digital bubble in sync with the other members of the collective. "The animated Metaball bubble geometry was manipulated by subtracting and adding matter to each stroke," says Hato. "The 3-D bubbles were programmed to move and imitate the actual physics of a soap bubble. Each letter shape contains 200 metaballs which, when combined with the artist's manipulations, resulted in the final bubbly letter structures."

The full Bloomberg New Contemporaries fontImages from the artist pages on the website

“Hato's design concept helped us virtually create a collective space where the identity of the bubble fonts is used as a motif and metaphor for connectivity and community, and is a tangible result of the artists working together using a online tool to create the letter forms together, ”says Kirsty Ogg, Director of New Contemporaries, in an introduction to the online exhibition.

Ogg also points out that while the pandemic poses a tremendous challenge to arts organizations, it has opened up new ways of thinking. "Throughout our history we have responded to the ever-changing needs of artists and an ever-evolving sector," she says. “In this moment of change, it is doubly important that we continue to be attentive to the needs of artists and the conditions in which their work is published when they work online and at the IRL.

“The digital space has opened up conversations about access, global reach and engagement from different perspectives. Where this platform was originally introduced as an alternative way to present this year's cohort, we will continue to test in the years to come how we address these critical concerns. I was really encouraged by the enthusiasm of those who joined us on this trip. "

bnc2020.newcontemporaries.org.uk; Check out WeTransfer's collaboration with the Royal Academy here


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