By “art image” we mean the artefacts produced by painters, sculptors and other artists in the visual realm, but our subject today is not so much the images themselves, as the way we experience and think about them. When an exhibition of work by Claude Monet opened in Hong Kong earlier this year, this news was reported in the newspaper with a photograph of a visitor to the show taking a photo of a Monet painting with her mobile phone. That photo might be a starting point for our discussion. What do we think we are seeing, and what do we think we are doing, when we view an art image? Why is it better (if it is) to go and see the Mona Lisa in Paris than to look at a photograph, or a copy? What effect have ever more sophisticated forms of reproduction had on the authenticity, even sacredness, of the unique image or icon? Does reproduction in some way transfer the ownership of the art work to someone else? Galleries and museums collect and curate art images, and also have an educational mission. How are they responding to the technological changes that seem to be transforming the field of the art image? How are artists themselves responding?
M+ is HK’s new museum of 20th and 21st century visual culture, encapsulating visual art, design and architecture and the moving image. The museum is part of the West Kowloon Cultural District and will open to the public in 2019. Douglas Kerr’s guests today both work at M+: Lesley Ma as curator of ink art, and Tina Pang as curator for HK visual culture.