Artists evaluating a virtual gallery as a potential venue must go beyond inspecting website glam, and gallerists creating a virtual space must provide artists with tangible support beyond a web presence. One group needs to understand and interpret what technology can provide, the other must master and share its use. Artists would do well to peek under the hood here. Gallerists should welcome the interest too.
A gallery installation benchmarks accomplishment, arrival and the promise of discovery. With a now (slightly) more polished, but always 24/7 Internet, virtual galleries face new roles beyond a site address, uptime and functional communications.
And herein lies the rub. Website construction is down to a few hours or less with current code free templates. Extracting and visualizing visit and related information however can be well beyond the skills of site DIYers and even the coding literati are often challenged.
By sharing with artists the when and where traffic information, site creators can go beyond planting a static occupant on the digital landscape, leveraging visit info for themselves and artists. Once gallerists realize this data is not intuitively available they should seek technical assistance to get and learn the tools needed to extract it. Not doing so leaves them at a disadvantage.
Under the Hood
Virtual galleries can offer unbounded wall space, but simultaneously burden visitors with tedious to review search returns. Artists should thoroughly test search engine performance, whether sophisticated taxonomy is present or needed, how the returned results are presented, along with the visual layout and ultimately the ease of finding works.
If it is difficult for you to find your work, imagine what it would be like for someone unfamiliar with it. Finding your art should not be an archeological expedition and search evaluation does not require advanced computer forensics. For gallerists, if a better search engine will enhance the site but exceed your technical skills, seek professional help.
With dozens or more works available at any given gallery, it is unreasonable to expect ad campaign links back to each individual piece. But eyes on the art must happen first.
Artists deserve to know how many views each work receives and over what period of time. This info might present a feel for how many on-line views precede a sale or offer insight for adjusting marketing efforts.
Many views and no sales is a very different situation from long virtual installations with few views and no sales. Page visits are different from site visits and their counts hold different value from ad click accounting.
The New Numbers Game
New technology always brings unexpected demands. As valuable and important as virtual gallery representation is, artists should carefully evaluate potential new digs before jumping on board, and gallerists should get the most from the technology investment. Both groups should rise to these challenges, as they will each benefit from the efforts.