by Mat Dirjish
Lately it’s is a rare occurrence when the tech community launches something that is not only innovative on the design level but will also improve the quality of life for those who embrace it. Those occurrences are a refreshing change to the usual world’s smallest, world’s fastest, arena’s largest, industry’s most powerful, universe’s most efficient, and/or the market’s nicest smelling whatever, or the classic, “Gee mom, look how many functions I squeezed onto the head of a pin, right next to the Lord’s prayer, that will create more distractions and mindless tasks for anyone who can afford this.” Well, Samsung Electronics and Planar Systems have initiated one of those rare and special occurrences that go beyond “design as usual”.
The two companies, Samsung Electronics and Planar Systems, are working together on what they call cloud-based, large-screen art displays for both commercial and residential art collectors. Essentially, fine art will appear in the gallery and/or home, not in the original format, a framed oil painting for example, but framed within an LCD panel (see figure).
The partnering companies recently unveiled two impressive prototype displays employing SAMSUNG SM’ART Gallery Panels. As per Scott Birnbaum, vice president of new business development for Samsung Semiconductor, “The SAMSUNG SM’ART Gallery Panels will enable art buyers to transform a room of virtually any size into an easy-to-customize electronic gallery with any number of art pieces”.
Targeting both institutional and individual fine art connoisseurs, users can tailor their collections via a cloud-based art selection medium or service. Initially, they can preview artworks through a computer or handheld device, i.e., smartphone, make their purchase selections, and then have them appear on digital canvases (LCDs) at their location of choice.
This is just one function of the technology. The concept will also enable analog and digital artists to expand their audiences. In addition to providing the classics, the displays can also bring unknown artists to the attention of potential art collectors. “The possibilities for high-resolution LCD art displays are endless, providing an unrivaled medium for artistic appreciation”, says Jennifer Davis, vice president, marketing at Planar Systems.
Samsung points out that the concept of electronic art is not all that new. Attempts in the past offered art as an optional feature in high-end televisions, however, it did not attract a wide audience due to sparse art availability and the fact that TV screens don’t really cut it for viewing detailed artwork.
Now one might also react by asking what’s the difference between this technology and the well-established digital-photo frame. The answer is there is absolutely no comparison, they are universes apart.
First, digital photo frames are too small and, even if larger, are incapable of rendering high-resolution details. Second, having viewed the prototypes firsthand, they are most impressive. Photos appearing here do not even approach what these displays look like live. The finer points such as brush strokes, color textures, and various artistic techniques are clearly visible and discernible. Even the frame portion of the display looks real, and these are just the prototypes. The aspect ratio and orientation of the prototype displays are variable from portrait to landscape. Two prototype sizes were on hand: 21.9” wide x 33.9” tall with a 1:1.5 aspect ratio (portrait) and 48” wide by 27” tall exhibiting a 16:9 aspect ratio (landscape).
The only thing that gives them away as not being the original article is their brightness level: it’s very consistent and currently does not change with variations in ambient lighting. But, once again, these are the prototypes and the technology is still developing. There appears to be no reason to believe that the final version will be less than stunning.
Birnbaum points out that the digital approach could significantly expand creative horizons. As well as displaying art in static form, he foresees the possibility of art that moves, and/or changes based on the viewer’s mood or the time of day, and interactive art that reacts to movement. And that’s just the tip of the hat. With a bit of imagination, the horizons will know no boundaries.
Interested art organizations can contact Mr. Birnbaum via e-mail to discuss participation in setting up the SAMSUNG SM’ART electronic galleries.