Following Tech Day London at Old Billingsgate in the Autumn, we had a chat with the innovators behind some of the more interesting projects being presented.
Julia Mariana had the idea for Artstring when she was studying for an MA in Narrative Environments. Her dissertation focused on those who tend do avoid museums, and why it is that they aren’t inspired to view art up close. Julia found that the disconnect was more down to perceptions than disinterest. “There is this idea that you need a certain amount of education and knowledge to appreciate art. It is that idea that I’m trying to deconstruct.”
That’s why she created Artstring, an interactive platform for Museums, focusing on discussion and curation by utilising museum archives. Think Spotify playlists, but for art lovers. For example, a user can make a list of their favourite impressionist pieces, using digitized works, and share it with their friends. They can then post about the list, discussing it with likeminded individuals.
The idea is that discussion, recommendations and artist overviews will lead to better understanding and engagement with the museums. “I did quite a bit of research, and found out how much more people enjoy museum visits when they bring a friend along.” Julia told us. Our social lives have transferred to digital spaces, why not our museum experience? There will be a huge range of art available on the app as well, “Everything the museums have digitalized will be there”
Most museums have apps, some better than others, but these tend to be single use programs that will be deleted after leaving the gallery. They are understandably designed to sell you on what you are seeing in the space, and to keep you there as long as possible. “The museum app only has one voice, and it’s the authority.” So Julia wanted somewhere where the discussion continues after you leave the museum. She explained, “What digital has changed is the social aspect of Museums.”
Artstring is being developed by Silicon Rhino, and the design is obviously very important, what with Julia being a graphic designer and the fact that it’s an arts app. “I had it really clear in my mind that it shouldn’t look like the other museum apps, which are sleek and minimalist.” The result will be a vibrant and colourful experience, inspired in part by promotional material designed by Jan Bielecki and the logo, which was created by Luisa Bieta.
The app will be launching for beta testing in January 2018, and Julia is going to tailor the app depending on the feedback. The app itself being as engaging as possible is taking precedent over monetisation at the moment, but Julia is hoping to work in partnership with the institutions. “I want to see how much interest I can generate from the museums. Ideally, they will be stakeholders with me.” There are several plans for making money with the app, but it is important to her that the app is free for the users.
We love the idea of Artstring. Julia is correct, there is a stigma surrounding museums; that they are places for people with money and a high level of education. But, they are for everyone, and we think that this app will be a fantastic way to encourage new visitors. “We want to change the way people feel about museums and what they do inside museums,” Julia told us. With Artstring, she might just achieve this goal.
For more information about Artstring click here
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