Yesterday saw the launch of what you’ll surely find the most intriguing use of Syria’s domain name extension yet, especially if you follow the visual arts. It serves the punning site Art.sy, to which you’ll soon point your browser whenever you want to discover new imagery that appeals to your aesthetic sensibility. Thus holds the theory, in any case, behind this service created by the Art Genome Project. It aims to become to visual art what Pandora has become to music: a virtual mind that can take your tastes, turn right back around to recommend works that please those tastes, and — in the best of all possible outcomes, little by little — broaden those tastes as well. Tell Art.sy what has recently captivated you in the museums, and it will dig through pieces from Washington’s National Gallery, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the British Museum, and elsewhere, trying its best to find something else that will do the same. In total, Art.sy hosts “17,000+ artworks by 3,000+ artists” from “300+ of the world’s leading galleries, museums, private collections, foundations, and artist estates from New York to London, Paris to Shanghai, Johannesburg to São Paulo.”
Melena Ryzik in The New York Times describes Art.sy’s elaborate system of code-based aesthetic classification as developed by “a dozen art historians who decide what those codes are and how they should be applied,” in which “some labels (Art.sy calls them “genes” …) denote fairly objective qualities, like the historical period and region the work comes from and whether it is figurative or abstract, or belongs in an established category like Cubism, Flemish portraiture or photography,” while others “are highly subjective, even quirky.” Ryzik lists the possible codes for a Picasso as including “Cubism,” “abstract painting,” “Spain,” “France” and “love,” and those for a Jackson Pollock as “abstract art,” “New York School,” “splattered/dripped,” “repetition” and “process-oriented.” Here we have yet another reason to maintain a high artistic awareness in our high-tech time. Still, I can’t help but recall the wise counsel Stephen Fry offered in an interview we featured back in August: a truly life-enriching recommendation engine wouldn’t give you the same art you’ve always enjoyed; it would give you the exact opposite.
You can learn more about the ins-and-outs of Art.sy here.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.
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