Google Art, Google Theatre?

Sometimes it really does seem like Google is taking over the world. It’s this all knowing being that has the answer to everything  – think of a time when you are questioning how to do something that hasn’t ended with the pronouncement “I’ll just Google it”. Our deep trust for information found online is, of course, slightly worrying; we wouldn’t trust the ‘facts’ coming from a random stranger sat in a corner of the pub so dark we can’t see their face would we? Even less so a stranger sat in a pub on another Continent.

Anyway, I digress. Google is doing something good with Art – well whether you think it’s good or not is up to you, nevertheless Google is doing something with Art. Did you know about this? Basically an online space, run by Google, where you can view hi-res images of loads of great works of art. It’s brilliant for anyone who can’t get to the big galleries of the world; it’s a great thing for children wandering around the Internet to stumble upon.

I first found out about it when reading this article on Guardian Culture Proffessionals, an Interview with Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute. In it he discusses the issues faced by such a digital invasion into the more old-school world of art galleries, and there are some interesting points to consider. There are huge benefits to being able to view the paintings in such detail online, but the strong argument is still that nothing can beat seeing it in the flesh (or in the canvas). I particularly like this quote in the article, cited from a conversation between Amit and one of the museum directors he met with:

…museums directors and their museums have been around for hundreds of years, and you’ve been around for only 10. He told me to always keep that in mind when I spoke to other museum directors.

It is clear, however, that this Google Art is transforming the world of Art and the ways we can experience it and perhaps increasing interest in, and access to, that world. It’s an exploration of how the digital can work with, and be part of, the Art world and I’m wondering what a similar theatre based project would look like – how would Google use the digital in theatre? I know there are people out there considering the question of how digital can work with, and benefit, theatre but I think this is something that needs huge amounts more exploration and play. Aside from live streaming performances, or generating narratives via Storify or other platforms how can the digital infiltrate the heart of the theatrical experience, can it or is it more a case of making a new form of theatre?


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