Slow Art Day Founder Phil Terry Interviewed for “Artsy Editorial”

Thomas Struth Art Institute of Chicago II, Chicago, 1990 Phillips: Photographs

Thomas Struth
Art Institute of Chicago II, Chicago, 1990
Phillips: Photographs

Slow Art Day founder Phil Terry was recently interviewed by Isaac Kaplan for Artsy EditorialThe editorial delves into the experience of looking at art, the length of time required to look at a work of art in order to “get” it, and how museums both help and hinder the practice of slow looking.

Phil says in the editorial, ““People in the art world generally know how powerful it can be to look at a work of art for more than seven seconds.” […] “I started Slow Art Day because everyone else doesn’t know this.”

Read the full article here, and let us know your thoughts below!

Slow Art Day and the All Stars Project

In November, Slow Art Day founder Phil Terry partnered with the All Stars Project to bring a group of youth and community members to El Museo del Barrio in New York for a day of slow looking and discussion.

Phil writes, “Museums and art are for everyone – not just the few. Slow Art Day and the All Stars Project, Inc. are working together to help more people learn how to look at and love art – how to walk into a museum and not feel intimidated, to approach art as if we are all included because we are.”

Check out photos from the visit below!

Making time for slower digital experiences in museums

Here at Slow Art Day we focus on how visitors engage with physical works of art – how paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other media are perceived, considered, and experienced by the viewer. But in our digital age, museums are increasingly trying to deliver “snackable” digital content – short bursts of entertaining and enlightening information delivered through social media initiatives or interactive installations. In an article published by The Guardian earlier this week, Danny Birchall, Digital Manager at London’s Wellcome Collection, eloquently makes the case that digital or virtual engagements with artworks allow for the same unhurried, slow potential as physical interactions. Birchall writes, “[…] if museums can deliver snacks, why not three-course meals? Is there space in museums for slower and longer digital experiences for audiences to savour and enjoy?” Birchall uses the Wellcome Collection’s Mindcraft, an immersive and interactive tool that describes the history of hypnotism over the course of a six-chapter digital story, as a case study for his article. However, even the relatively long-form (for the digital realm) Mindcraft is only about 15 minutes long – a fraction of the length of your typical Slow Art Day event. Is this enough to ensure visitors’ full engagement with digital content? Can museums offer an immersive, engaging digital experience that avoids superficiality and truly deepens the visitor’s experience of a work of art without relying on gimmicks?

Read the article “Museums should make time for slower digital experiences” here and tell us your thoughts!

The starting point of the Wellcome Collection's "Mindcraft" story-telling experience, a virtual means of engaging the museum's audience with its collection.

The starting point of the Wellcome Collection’s “Mindcraft” story-telling experience, a virtual means of engaging the museum’s audience with its collection.

The Ancient Way of Slow Looking

When we walk into a museum or gallery nowadays, we are instantly confronted with a rather large number of artifacts which demand our attention. I always find myself pondering where to start my journey. Is it with this painting to my left? How about this wonderful African mask straight ahead? While museums and galleries are generally quiet and peaceful places, they nevertheless hold enough artifacts to potentially overwhelm the visitor.

It’s true that we don’t spend enough time actually looking at a painting anymore. In fact, we spend more time reading the description underneath it than contemplating the painting itself. Even though we attempt to return to contemplation with the help of Slow Art Day, there is nevertheless a crucial element in today’s paintings that is not always beneficial to slow looking.

When we stand in front of a painting, the whole scenery is present before us. It’s not entirely surprising that we spend little time on contemplating paintings. We think that because everything is there in laid out in front of us at one time, we don’t have to work very hard at the act of looking. It’s certainly beneficial to those always-in-haste people that today paintings are not unrolled and displayed gradually, as traditional Chinese scroll paintings were.

Hanging scrolls and hand scrolls were common features in Chinese painting, which often featured beautiful landscapes – mountains and waterfalls in particular. Painters infused their works with Taoist thoughts and beliefs such as simplicity, which was, in part, made visible in the use of monochrome textures, i.e. black and white. It finds its most extreme application in Zen painting; works famous for their black ink on white rice paper.

The often meters-long scrolls had two main goals. First was the delayed contemplation. The viewer was unable to quickly grasp the entire scenery, because the scroll had been unrolled scene after scene, so that the viewing process lasted longer than we spend on paintings (even during Slow Art Day!).  And then there was the narrative aspect, the ancient precursor of film if you will, long before photography paved the way for the development of cinema. The step-by-step unraveling of the scroll allowed for a narrative development. It thus contained not only one scenery, but several, which were linked to one another and formed a painterly entertainment for the viewers. It was a slow pleasure, in a way like a slow film, which takes its time to develop.

Scroll painting from the Chinese Sung Dynasty by Chang Tse-Twan

Scroll painting from the Chinese Sung Dynasty by Chang Tse-Twan

The above painting is a five metre long scroll from the Chinese Sung Dynasty (c. 960-1126), painted by Chang Tse-Twan. It is considered as a scroll painting that stands at the beginning of narrative development in Chinese painting. While nowadays we would see the entire scroll displayed at once, in those days viewers only saw parts of it, one after the other. It is not difficult to see how the slow unrolling of the scroll created a heightened pleasure for the audience. I often wish that painters would return to this form of painting that not only creates a work of quietness, but also generates excitement over what we will see next in the scroll; a real journey through a painting.

– Nadin

Reflections from Hosts: Catherine & Jilda

How successful can Slow Art Day be? Two of our 2014 hosts, Catherine and Jilda, reflect on their experimental event in immersive engagement – digitally and by non-traditional museum audiences.

slilde-1

Catherine and Jilda document key moments and behind the scenes insight for their National Museum of Australia event.

In the discussion portion, the group marveled at the connections they found between the works.

In the discussion portion, the group marveled at the connections they found between the works.

To read more about their event, click here.

– Karen

 

 

Notes From Hosts: Mim Scalin

notesfromhosts

Greetings from Richmond, VA, USA

Slow Art Day 2014! I can’t wait.
I’ve got lots of people signed up (45), and have been keeping in touch with them on a regular basis. I hope they all show up!
It’s going to be an exciting event.
I’ve chosen 3 pieces from the 20th century galleries and 2 from an area under viewed for sure, sporting life, which is mainly British paintings ofhorse and dogs from the 1800s. 
Won’t people be surprised!
 
Instead of making buttons this year, I made labels on adhesive backed paper. 
 
Slow Art Day labels
 
I look forward to seeing everyone’s photos from the event.
 
Best wishes to all,
Mim Golub Scalin
volunteer host
Sign up to participate in this event here.

The Value of Slow Looking

But what’s interesting about Slow Art Day is that it offers a practice (look for at least 10 minutes) and the possibility of an experience that’s owned by the viewer. It’s why giving attention to art at the very least brings new perspective, and is in the words of business thinkers potentially ‘disruptive’ in that it can over time shift how you see things. In a world of customization and personalization digital technology provides us with the stuff based on previous choices – it makes life easier.

John O’Reilly, Slow Art Day and the value of spending time looking at pictures, Image Source, (via).

 

Image Source has interviewed our founder, Phil Terry, on his thoughts about Slow Art Day!

Read on to find out the original inspiration and “a-ha” moment that sparked Slow Art Day’s birth, why freedom is important for the viewer’s engagement, what Phil Terry means by “monogamous-in-the-moment“and much more here.

– Karen

 

Notes from Hosts: Dr Medica Assunta Orlando

notesfromhosts

Hello fellow hosts,

The Museum of Paleontology and Palaeontology Maglie (Lecce, Italy) will host “The Origin of Art” Saturday, April 12.

I am hosting this event because I firmly believe that we must understand the art from its origins, from the times when the basic need of man to communicate. The understanding of this concept requires slow pace to overcome the aesthetic idea of works of art, to discover the values ​​and the deepest needs of the soul.

If you are in Salento (Puglia), do not hesitate to connect with us! Good luck to all of you for your respective goals Days of Art on Saturday.

Dr Medica Assunta Orlando

Sign up to participate in this event here.

Notes from Hosts: Aleema Mohamed

 notesfromhosts

Hi fellow hosts,

My name is Aleema and I am American from NYC. I will be hosting a Slow Art Day at JAMM Art Gallery in Dubai, UAE, where I am currently based on a short-term project.
 
I decided to host an event because I strongly believe in the experience of art, and thus, looking at art slowly. I am also the founder of an online art platform, Art Waddle, that focuses on helping people connect with the art they love, in person.
 
If you are ever in Dubai or NY, please feel free to connect! Best of luck to all of you for your respective Slow Art Days on Saturday.
 
Best,
Aleema
Sign up for this event here.