The new artCircles app from Art.com gives users a range of ways to experience the site’s million-plus images.
Art.com and interactive shop Hot Studio developed artCircles to present Art.com’s massive catalog of images through the eyes of curators–letting casual viewers see those images the way that the likes of designer Yves Behar, tech innovator Michael Hawley, RISD president John Maeda, and National Geographic explorer Elizabeth Lindsey do. Specially selected collections appear in giant wheels, which immerse viewers in a single theme they can soak up all at once. Users can view images in a curated gallery or navigate through images based on keywords and colors.
In order to give viewers an idea of what kind of browsing experience they can expect from it, digital agency Mekanism created the head-spinning promo video, the aptly titled “Van Gogh to Rothko in 30 Seconds.”
Imagine the famous facial morphing sequence from Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” video in 1992, only updated with 2012 technology and populated by some of our most famous paintings, and you’re almost there. In less time than it takes to melt butter in a microwave, a thousand priceless images fly by with dizzying speed in a continuous thread.
“It’s a very simple way of letting the art speak for itself,” says Mekanism director Michael Langan. “Each piece is held by a different person, giving a nod to the personal nature of our taste in art and our attachment to the pieces we love, while also underlining the size and quality of Art.com’s curated collections, like those found in the app.”
“The video was created by researching the common visual themes that recur through different paintings and photographs, such as bathing nudes or the Eiffel Tower,” Langan says. “We tracked down thousands of images in Art.com’s collection and played them in sequence with those common elements aligned, then wove these sequences into a kinetic animation that takes us all the way from Impressionist portraits to abstract expressionism.” He adds: “This animation was used as a reference for us to film the entire piece in stop-motion animation, with each frame held by a different person, working with natural light so the practical nature of the technique is plainly visible as the sunlight shifts across the floor.”
In order to keep content fresh on the app and lure people back to spin the wheels again, Art.com plans to add new circles with different curators and focused on different themes and topics.