When the most celebrated athlete in Canadian history gets together with the most iconic artist of the 20th century, what you get is a renowned painting called Wayne Gretzky #99. This painting has been on display in countless art galleries across the world since Andy Warhol created it in 1984, and even today many galleries still have facsimiles of it on display.
Now located in The Rooms Art Gallery in Newfoundland, the famous art piece is getting its very own exhibition. But for Curator Mireille Eagan, this exhibit needed to have a different twist to it - an idea to represent the art through a modern medium.
“We wanted to play with the question: is art still relevant in the age of digital media?” said Mireille. “After having a conversation with the Confederation Centre on Prince Edward Island, we came up with a way to combine art and technology into an art a new exhibit.”
The plan was to have a joint exhibition between 3 art galleries across Canada (the other 2 locations have replicas of Wayne Gretzky #99), which included The Rooms, the Confederation Centre of the Arts on Prince Edward Island, and the Art Gallery of Alberta. As viewers in The Rooms stopped in front of the painting to observe it, a camera behind them live streamed the viewers and let attendees in the other galleries watch them. Similarly, attendees in The Rooms could watch the viewers in the other galleries, who were also being live streamed simultaneously.
In collaboration with Streamingstore, an IT solutions company based in Toronto, the galleries set to put this plan to action.
Art of the Live Stream
For an art gallery like The Rooms, having a high-quality stream was critical to hosting an exhibit of this level. Working with Streamingstore, The Rooms received multiple encoder devices from several companies for a side-by-side comparison, ultimately deciding on Teradek’s Cube for its stability and clear streaming. After purchasing, Streamingstore assisted the galleries’ IT teams with setup via remote desktop tools.
From a technical perspective, each gallery has a camera and 2 monitor screens. Connected to every gallery’s camera is a Teradek Cube 605 encoder, which is sending the 1080p video feed to their Core account. Core is Teradek’s cloud-based management platform that can stream to multiple destinations simultaneously, configure stream settings and much more from anywhere with Internet. Because the galleries needed to stream to 2 destinations with each Cube, having Core was essential for this workflow.
From Core, each stream is sent to a Cube 405 decoder at the other 2 locations, which pushes the feed to 2 monitors pointed towards the attendees. Using this point-to-point setup, visitors at each location in front of the artwork can see visitors at other locations in the same spot.
Old Meets New
When visitors approach the painting, they become features of the art itself. Visitors can interact with each other, do goofy things and share an experience that is unconventional of traditional art exhibits. The exhibit’s goal is to allow people to reflect upon the mass reproduction of celebrity images of the past, as well as contrasting it with the way these images are reproduced today in a digital world. At the same time, it turns the exhibit into a shared space where different people across the country can appreciate Andy Warhol’s famous work together.
“By live streaming each other and connecting the galleries together, we’re making everyone a part of the digital experience,” Mireille clarified. “The camera is pulled back far enough where you can see people standing in front of the print along with the print itself. People take over the space, and it becomes not just about the exhibit, but about the visitors as well.”
As art galleries across the world start to explore interesting ways to use technology in their art displays, these Canadian galleries found a way to integrate a P2P workflow into their exhibit and create an exhibit truly unique and innovative for their visitors. With the digital world becoming increasingly present in our everyday lives, this is a great way for The Rooms to contrast an old art form with a new art form, and present a new way of appreciating art.
“The best part of having the Cubes is how reliable they are. There are technological aspects to every exhibit that we have to worry about, but this has been really seamless for us and eliminates any worries,” said Mireille. “It also helps us to answer our previous question, ‘is art still relevant in a digital era?’ Our answer to that is: absolutely. It’s all about finding the right way to showcase it.”