A screen shot of the "view in a room" option.
One of the topics that was brought up at a panel discussion I attended earlier this week was about the problems of publishing catalogue raisonnes. If the catalogue is a of living artist, it becomes outdated the moment that artist creates new work. And even for artists like Picasso, every time one of his works changes hands the catalogue has to be updated. It's a publishing nightmare. Now Art.sy, a new online platform, could make those heavy and constantly out of date printed catalogue raisonnes a thing of the past. Art.sy is still in its beta phase, but I recently got the chance to explore its massive resources. It's powered by the Arts Genome Project, an open source platform that tracks and catalogues every artist, arts organization and every performance, exhibition and event in real time (i.e. no more trips to the printer).
Art.sy expands on the concept by making all that information searchable across more than 800 "genes—such as art-historical movements, subject matter and formal qualities." Feel like looking at blue, medium-sized installations? How about James Turrell's Untitled (19NSB)? Or maybe you want something big and pink? You've now got ten pieces to browse through. You can also choose to only look at works that are for sale or, sift through them by subject matter like "Fantastic Environments," "Text" or "Culture Critique."
But how are these searchable "genes" created in the first place?
"A team of art historians and art professionals evaluates each artist and artwork on Art.sy and assigns them between 30 and 40 genes on average. Gene values range from 0-100, and capture how strongly a gene applies to a specific artist or artwork. These exact numbers (meaningless in themselves) allow our algorithms to compute the "genetic" similarity of artists and artworks."
It's a great way to quickly and easily learn about new artist and movements. After you've moused around the site for a bit you can start a collection, curating your own show, so to speak, that you can revisit again and again. My favorite feature is the option to view a work in a room. Click the button and the image is put up on a gallery wall. There's also a Pandora-esque feature that shows you similar pieces. You can even follow an artist or gallery you like and get updates when they release new work. Request an invite and try it out for yourself.