The new philosophy “buy experiences, not things” has the art world scrambling. These days, the affluent would rather shell out thousands for a trip to Disney World instead of buying a fine art piece.
Don’t just take my word for it, however. According to The Guardian, “New figures show we are continuing to spend less money on buying things, and more on doing things — and telling the world about it online afterwards, of course.” Largely driven by millennials, this phenomenon is known in academic circles as the “experience economy” and “regardless of political uncertainty, austerity and inflation, we are spending more on doing stuff, choosing instead to cut back on buying stuff.”
Despite the stories, meanings and aesthetics behind traditional fine art, one could easily argue that it’s a thing, not an experience. You (hopefully) wouldn’t count traveling to your living room to view your Monet painting as an experience (or talk about it on Facebook).
However, through virtual reality that’s all starting to change. And it may just be the fine art world’s saving grace (especially for the younger generation).
Imagine being able to walk through Paris through the aesthetic lens of Vincent Van Gough’s The Starry Night. Or walking through an NYC depicted in Cubism.
Through Google Tilt Brush, artists are creating immersive, 3D art experiences that place you in the center of the creation; allowing you to experience the art world rather than viewing it.
When most people think VR, they imagine hyper-realistic video games or building renderings. Through Google Tilt Brush, however, artists aren’t focusing on realistic VR; they’re crafting their own artistic reality. Now, any creator can walk around with a virtual paint palette to generate a three-dimensional experience. It goes beyond traditional oil paint brushes too; Google offers everything from fire effects to psychedelic color-shifting strokes (and nearly anything in between).
Even Facebook is about to enter the game, purportedly releasing their much-anticipated Oculus Go to consumers on May 1st. In the future, one might be able to “experience” this art with friends across the country, and Facebook is betting quite heavily on it.
All of this doesn’t discount the talent and value of traditional art — in fact, it seems to be going stronger than ever. For instance, Bloomberg recently reported that 13 Picassos sold in a matter of two days for the tune of $155 million. However, for the future generation enshrined in the “experience economy” which isn’t dropping millions on art, VR might prove to be the new reality.