Opinion Piece: Samsung SM’ART Gallery Panels

I was scrolling through my news feeds and enjoying some tea a few mornings ago when I came across this article (courtesy of Chip Chick) on Samsung’s new “SM’ART Gallery Panels”. From the article:

“Samsung has teamed up with Planar to develop this new display technology which they have actually been working on, for as far back as five years. The two display manufacturers have been working together to develop panels that are much higher in resolution than your standard television display, and that are able to reproduce the artists original colors and vision – down to even the texture of the display. We got a hands-on with two of the prototype models and the visuals on these SM’ART Gallery Panels are colorful and sharp. The prototypes include a 21.9″ x 33.9″ tall display with a 1:1.5 aspect ratio, and a 48″ x 27″ display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The displays will not only be cutting edge, but they will also be green devices that are able to turn on and off by themselves, and they will come with built in motion and proximity sensors, along with ambient light sensors.

Samsung has big plans for these new panels and believes that a whole new category of products will be developed from them. To that effect, they are already working with artists and licensing companies with the ultimate goal of creating a cloud-based service where buyers can easily browse and purchase fine art, right from their SM’ART panels…

…In the future will fine art galleries use Samsung SM’ART Gallery Panels instead of canvas? We think that this is very likely the case. After all, it’s a natural evolution that was bound to happen sooner or later.”

Samsung SM'ART Gallery Panels

(image via Chip Chick)

Normally new technology brings out the geek in me; by day I work in a technical support position so keeping up to date with new gadgets is part of my job. In an industry that’s always changing this can be a lot of work but there are tons of new things on the horizon that I’m excited about (Wacom’s new 24″ Cintiq, for example). However, I’m extremely sceptical of these panels. To suggest that they’d replace the actual canvas/material in a piece of art, in a gallery, is ridiculous.

Artists are always looking for new and exciting mediums and certainly digital artists are no different. But there is no comparison between seeing a piece of art on a traditional medium such as canvas or paper on your computer screen versus seeing it up close in a museum, or on a level where you can actually touch it. Many people scoff at this, especially regarding abstract art, but after having taken my abstract class during the summer I discovered that what my camera was showing me did not do justice to the colors and complexity of what was on my canvas. Especially in pieces where there are a lot of contrasting colors, I’ve really had to mess around with them in GIMP/Photoshop to bring them closer to their real-life versions and they’re still not quite right. This doesn’t even take into consideration the texture on a piece or the size of it. Large-scale pieces of art are meant to be viewed that way, not squished onto a computer screen. The dynamics of the piece are lost.

Even if Samsung can get high definition resolutions out of these monitors, how will they mimic the texture in a painting? Impasto paintings would be instantly flattened. When I go to a gallery to examine paintings I do everything I can to really take them in. Examining the texture allows me to see the brush strokes used and sometimes allows me to put myself in the artist’s shoes. In bigger paintings especially, every stroke unlocks a little piece of the painting for me, makes me understand it a little more.

In short, no, I don’t believe these panels will ever replace traditional media and I could not see how anyone would want to buy one in place of a genuine art piece. For digital artists though, these panels may help them better stand out in galleries alongside the renaissance masters.

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