Welcome to the Experience Economy!

Damien Hirst

Step right up to spend a lot of money for a memory of a thing you did that one time.

Since globalisation, museums around the world have been changing their tune to suit the needs of the growing consumer market; travellers with money. The unprecedented growth of the contemporary art market has put art museums, galleries and exhibitions in the centre of travel culture. Globalisation has allowed art to cross borders, leading to more diverse exhibiting opportunities for contemporary artists.

The experience economy, a concept originally based of Pine and Gilmores Harvard Business Review article, states that experiences are a distinct economic offering, as different from services as services are from goods. In the experience economy, experiences and memories are as valuable to consumers as a tangable experience.

Transport costs have revolutionised possibility for travel, firmly integrating art and art culture into the holidays of millions of travellers around the world every year. Since the rise of popular art, artists have become better at producing memorable experiences with their works, in exchange for an economic offering. The new role of art museums is to entertain those global tourists and create memories.

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Guggenheim Bilbao

Some people would call the commodification of art a bad thing, but it has evolved into an interesting combination of entertainment and art; such a distinct trait of contemporary art. Museum goers are now viewing work that mirrors their culture and society in its content. This provides a window through which they can consider current ideas, and rethink the familiar.

The experience economy favours installation art above all else, as it enhances the viewer’s interactivity with the piece. Most installation art is strongly emotional, as it is more important to the experience economy than intellect. As a society, we have become more visual, which brings us closer on global level.

The contemporary art audience play an extremely active role in the execution of most post-1990s art pieces, and this only adds to the memorable experience they will get when visiting the art museum. This had lead artists such as Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami to be making larger, more extravagant, experiential works or exhibitions.

The great thing about installation art is that no matter your level of education or cultural background, everyone’s experience with the work will be the same. The physical nature of immersive installation pieces allows the work to become more memorable, creating an affective relationship between them and the artist. The participant leaves the museum or exhibition space feeling satisfied with their experience, taking home a memory in exchange for their economic offering.

The winners of this complex art system get themselves known as celebrities, and Hirst and Murakami are possibly the most interesting players in the game for contemporary art. Their artistic process and production draws similar connections to the master of business art, Andy Warhol.

“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art”
- Andy Warhol

With contemporary art reflecting contemporary culture, it only makes sense that artists are moving at the same pace as the outside world they are analysing, and they cannot do it by themselves. Murakami alone has three studios around the world, allowing him to produce works on the same calibre as a factory. This level of production has gained Murakami, and even Hirstmsuch economic freedom to continue to create pieces on an increasingly larger scale, giving their brands a more global reach.

Along with art, Hirst’s most recent business venture was the opening of his own restaurant, with the theme based off one of his own works. In a way, this restaurant could be Hirst’s most immersive piece of work yet; a kind of experiencescape. Hirst found a niche in the market, and created a way that allowed a crossover between art and mass audience.

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Pharmacy — Damien Hirst

Thanks to the growing interest in international art culture, more artwork than ever is being produced. Experiencescapes and installation art are a central part of the contemporary art culture, as they are spaces of pleasure, enjoyment and entertainment. They are the meeting ground where diverse groups can come in contact with each other, no matter their background. Whether the artwork was tangible or intangible, the experience economy theory suggests that consumers are now expecting more of an experience for their economic trade.

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