Slow Art Day 2017 at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Host Rachel Massey at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park writes of their Slow Art Day 2017 experience,

“YSP launched Mindful Moments on Slow Art Day, inviting 10 people to a private one hour viewing of Tony Cragg’s A Rare Category of Objects. Participants were invited to focus their attention on five specially selected sculptures and given cards with guidance and suggestions for mindful viewing – they were encouraged to close their eyes on arrival and before departing from each art work, allowing time for the experience to settle, perhaps noticing sensations in their body to help ground them in the moment.

Invitations for ways to view the work included, “Notice the edges of the piece. Take time to trace the edges with your eyes. Move very close to the piece and look slowly. Move further away – what do you see now?”

The atmosphere in the gallery was tranquil, yet there was a sense of intent focus and quiet energy. People moved reverentially around the space, but felt comfortable to lie on the floor, crawl around and under sculptures, move their bodies in response to the shapes.

This was followed with a delicious breakfast of tea coffee and pastries in the restaurant and conversation about the experience.”

Visitor feedback:

“Slow Art Day at YSP was truly the best way to start the weekend. We’re spending the day here, and we will do it differently after that.”

“If I’d gone on a normal visit I wouldn’t have even looked at that sculpture. Now I feel a real connection to it and it’s my favourite one.”

“All my ideas about the work changed as I looked at it longer.”

“A great privilege to have this private experience with a sculpture.”

Slow Art Day & the BBC

It’s hard to believe how much Slow Art Day has grown and spread across the world since its inception in New York a mere 8 years ago. We’re looking forward to having 170+ venues from dozens of countries participate in Slow Art Day 2017. Slow Art Day has had a large presence in the UK since the beginning and this year venues from the National Gallery to the Ashmolean Museum are organizing events – so we were extremely excited to see this feature in BBC Culture on the slow art movement. Filmed at Art Basel Hong Kong, reporter Linda Kennedy discusses the merits of slow looking with a variety of artists and art critics.

Belgian artist Luc Tuymans in the BBC "How to Look at Art" video.

Belgian artist Luc Tuymans in the BBC’s “How to Look at Art” video.

Watch the full video here!

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.

Slow Art Cinema

For years now we have been engaging in the art of slow looking. Slow Art Day is, in some ways, part of the Slow Movement, which seeks to reintroduce aspects of slowness. In many cases the “slow” values are ones that we have long lost, dating back to the introduction of mechanical time-keeping, which put time and its importance at the centre of our lives. Slow Art is but one of many other ‘slow’ activities; for example, the Slow Food movement thrives in many parts of the world. What I personally find intriguing, though, is the link between Slow Art and Slow Cinema, the subject of my on-going research. We published a brief blog entry about Slow Cinema before, which I want to expand on here.

The term ‘Slow Cinema’ was coined in 2004 by film critic Jonathan Romney. Since then it has been widely in use, although the term is somewhat limiting and derogative as ‘slow’ implies boredom for many people. The truth is that the aesthetics of Slow Cinema can be found as far back as the very beginning of cinema history, for example in long takes, which are (often mundane) events filmed in their entirety without a cut. Hungarian director Béla Tarr only cut when the reel came to an end, after about ten minutes. Lav Diaz from the Philippines, who used to be a painter but has now shifted to filmmaking, often goes as far as recording events without a single cut for as long as twenty minutes.

This, the use of an often static camera with little movement in the film frames, might remind one of paintings – only here these paintings are not hanging on a  wall, but instead are projected onto a screen. The result, however, is the same. The viewer sits in front of the visual image, studying every detail of the frame, and may find him- or herself marveling at the beautiful rural landscapes that are often found in slow films. Take Michela Occhipinti’s Letters from the Desert (2012), set in rural India. The protagonists appear as mere dots in the landscape.

Still from Michela Occhipinti's "Letters from the Desert"

Still from Michela Occhipinti’s “Letters from the Desert”

Or take Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra’s Birdsong (2008), which is not only a comedic study of the Three Kings on their way to Bethlehem but also a stunning portrayal of empty landscapes.

Still from Albert Serra's Birdsong

Still from Albert Serra’s Birdsong

Then there is also Panahbarkhoda Rezaee from Iran, whose superb Daughter…Father…Daughter (2011) shows the audience a stunning Iranian landscape we perhaps never thought existed.

Still from Panahbarkhoda Rezaee's "Daughter...Father...Daughter"

Still from Panahbarkhoda Rezaee’s “Daughter…Father…Daughter”

And there is Caspar David Friedrich’s famous Rückenfigur that appeared in Lav Diaz’s Death in the Land of Encantos (2007), an overwhelming nine-hour film set in the aftermath of a natural catastrophe that finds little likeness in the Philippines.

Caspar David Friedrich, and Lav Diaz's "Death in the Land of Encantos"

Caspar David Friedrich, and Lav Diaz’s “Death in the Land of Encantos”

There is more to the link between Slow Art and Slow Cinema than the apparent focus of traditions of landscape painting in the latter, however. For a long time I have thought and argued that slow films should be screened in galleries and museums. Locations govern our experiences; hence people tend to go to the movies to escape from reality, to see some action-laden blockbuster that puts them on a roller-coaster ride through the full spectrum of human emotions. A gallery audience has different expectations, ‘slower’ expectations, in fact, so that a projection of the fourteen-hour long Crude Oil (2008) by Wang Bing might sit much more at ease in this surrounding than it would in a cinema. And indeed, slow-film directors are more and more moving into gallery spaces, merging their work with other forms of art. Taiwan-based Tsai Ming-liang, whose superb short film Walker is available and free to see for everyone, even shot Visage (2009) in the Louvre after the museum commissioned him to do so. Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2011) won the Golden Palm at Cannes in 2011, is also widely known for his gallery works, such as Photophobia. His short film Dilbar is also available for you to watch online.

It is in this light, then, that I don’t see Slow Art and Slow Cinema as being separate from one other. As mentioned before, there are several slow activities thriving around the world. We have seen everything from Slow Education to Slow Finance to Slow Parenting. But none of these are so intricately intertwined as are Slow Art and Slow Cinema.

You can find more information, thoughts, film reviews, and interviews with directors on my website, The Art(s) of Slow Cinema. Or you can get in touch via theartsofslowcinema@gmail.com. I’m always happy to have slow discussions with people!

– Nadin

The Slow Pleasures of Looking at Art – Cincinnati CityBeat Feature Article on Slow Art Day

by Steven Rosen
Published in CityBeat: April 2014

“Usually, I feel pressured to look at everything in a specific gallery (or, if out-of-town, an entire museum) and that inevitably means spending too little time with the life’s work of so many talented, creative people. That’s what Slow Art Day is attempting to remedy.

Rather than a Slow Art Day, there should be an ongoing Slow Art Tour. I’d come once a week.”

Read the full feature article on the Cincinnati CityBeat website.

Twitter, tumblr, and Slow Art: oh my!

If you follow Slow Art Day on our various social media channels, you might have noticed an interesting conversation unfolding this week over whether programming like Slow Art Day can succeed in today’s fast-paced, digital environment. It all started when Sarah Bailey Hogarty from the de Young & Legion of Honor Museums looped us into a conversation happening at the 2013 Museums and the Web Conference:

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Of course, we had to respond!

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Which opened the floodgates for more dialogue and opinions from both sides:

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While twitter is fantastic for short, 140 character thoughts, we wanted to address our thoughts on the power of slow looking in a longer format, so our Social Media Manager Alie Cline took to the Slow Art Day tumblr to respond to Koven Smith’s initial concerns about Slow Art. Focusing on the ideas of slow looking and engagement, the post details how Slow Art Day can work within digital culture, “…so people can share their insights, observations, and engage with the artwork in a way that reaches beyond just the initial reaction of “I like this” or “I don’t like this.” Make sure to check out the entire post on our tumblr!

We love the thoughtful and respectful dialogue that took place on our social media channels – make sure to follow Slow Art Day on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr for more conversations like this one!

Slow Art Day reaches over 200 venues!

We’re excited to announce that Slow Art Day has reached a new milestone: over 200 venues have registered to host Slow Art Day 2013! As of this week, there are over 200 participating venues in 22 countries, 160 cities, and 5 continents. What started out as a grassroots movement has grown into a truly global initiative, and we want to take a moment to thank all of our dedicated volunteers, hosts, and participants for their help and support of Slow Art Day.

To help celebrate this accomplishment, we’ve planned some fun posts across our social media channels emphasizing the theme of growth. On our Tumblr, our weekly “Themed Thursday” series is focusing on growth with artworks like Gregory Euclide‘s Otherworldly: optical delusions and small realities, 2011.

Gregory Euclide, Otherworldly: optical delusions and small realities, 2011.

Gregory Euclide, Otherworldly: optical delusions and small realities, 2011.

On our Facebook, check out another growth-themed artwork by Rogan Brown, and keep your eyes peeled on our twitter for a special tweet congratulating our 200th venue!

Slow Art Day 2013 is just over a month away; how many venues do you think will register to host by April 27th? Let us know in the comments! There’s still plenty of time to sign up to host; click on the Be A Host tab at the top of the page to register.

Once again, thank you to everyone who has played a roll, small or large, in helping make Slow Art Day such a success!

Alie Cline
Social Media Manager