I don’t know why this doesn’t exist already, but I’ve been Googling my brains out trying to find fine art masterpieces for sale to be used as desktop backgrounds. I’m shopping for a 24″ LCD monitor with 1920 by 1200 resolution and I want it to be my personal Desktop Art Gallery. A good example of what I’m talking about is here for Van Gogh’s Irises. Visit that site and right click on that image and make it your desktop background. It helps if you have a large wide-screen LCD monitor. (FYI, it will replace your current desktop art, so you may want to just view it on a full-sized window. If you are using Webshots, it will automatically replace Irises during the next scheduled photo rotation.)
Last month I visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and I was so impressed that I’ve taken on a minor obsession with art. My wife and I had been planning this vacation for years and I expected to go crazy over the Air & Space Museum, since I’ve been a space nut all my life. I loved the Air & Space Museum, but I was mesmerized by the National Gallery of Art. Since I’ve returned I’ve bought several art books and I’ve been watching a 24-part lecture series on DVD on the history of Impressionism. None of the reproductions can do justice to actually seeing the originals, but my high-definition TV and computer screen comes closest.
Art for the TV screen has already been invented evidently, since I found Ambient Art at Amazon.com. Amazon has other TV art collections too. But I can’t find anyone selling fine art collections of .jpgs for computer screens. I guess copyright owners are afraid .jpgs will be pirated all over the internet, just like MP3 files. Although the prints in art books are great for casual study, their reproductions are usually just terrible when you compare them to the originals. (I have to admit that some reproductions are better than the originals. I don’t know why. The Pissarro exhibit at the Brooks Museum in Memphis was somewhat disappointing to me because all the paintings seemed color faded whereas the reproductions online and in books seemed colorful.)
Here’s what I want someone to invent. I want a program that uses my desktop and screen saver to display art and if I hit a hot-key to narrate a history about the piece and if I hit another hot-key bring up text and hyperlinks for further study. I want this system to be open in such a way that when I buy an art book or visit a museum they can sell me a CD/DVD that contains a digital version of the show that I can add to my Desktop Gallery. I want it to be modular so that there will be folders for artists, show collections, and permanent collections. If a big collection is traveling around the country, I’d like a centralized service to offer a digitized version for my Desktop Art Gallery that reminds me when and where I can go see the originals. I’d loved it if art books came with a supplemental disk that added reproductions and commentary to my Desktop Art Gallery. And I supposed the same service could offer me shows by unknown new artists to try.
I’d also like my Desktop Art Gallery to generate shows by programmed criteria. For example, I might want to see all the paintings from France from 1700 to 1900 in chronological order. Or select a particular artist and pull his work from all the collections. I don’t know what the technical ramifications would be, but I’d like to examine each piece like Deckard examined the photograph in the movie Bladerunner. I guess this would mean making a grid over each painting and taking further 1920×1200 resolution images of each portion of the grid. And if people write up studies and critiques of paintings on the Internet, I’d like a way for this program to track them – maybe through Wikipedia.
This system really needs an open format, probably in XML, so my Desktop Art Gallery can grow with acquisitions from any source. I’d like it to be smart enough so it won’t duplicate paintings using the same image copy. Which means it needs to allow for multiple versions for each image. It’s actually very hard to photograph a painting and it would be worthwhile to have multiple perspectives. Brushstrokes can be seen depending on which angle the light comes from. Color is very hard to match. Some of the paintings I saw in Washington I’ve since seen in many different books and they all look different. Some don’t even look like the painting I saw since the colors are so jarringly different. I don’t know if there are calibration sensors for such copy work like there are for matching monitor colors with printer colors, but it sure would help if there were.
I do have some art collections on CD-ROM that came with art books, but the reproductions are tiny and the software crude. And there are some screen saver companies that do sell art collections, but they only work with their software – a closed system. For my dream system to work it has to be open. It’s too bad the copyright owners can’t trust .jpg or its future improvement because that would allow many programmers to try and invent such a system, or for an open source system to develop. I think DRM systems will go the way of the Dodo, but it will take time. And the world of art lovers might be such a small group that there just isn’t enough of a demand for product like I’m describing. But if you love art, try finding some good 1920×1200 images to study and you’ll see why I want this invention.