Personally, I’ve never heard of Google Art Project, and I prefer physically to be inside museums and see paintings physically in front of me, which always thrill me because I am able to witness the masterpiece by myself. However, after I searched and opened Google Art Project, I found it beyond my expectation since I can receive recommendations and feature stories about the type of arts I like, and I can have more informed choices of seeing arts. For example, I am a huge fan of Picasso, so when I searched his name on Google Art Project, it presented me his biography and critiques of his work, which I find very useful for amateur art viewers like me to be more educated in terms of art history.
On a semiotic level, what I can derive from the layout and contents of Google Art Project is that it is very different from the traditional art space we see. In the traditional art space, albeit the innovation made this year trying to make traditional art more relevant among young people and geeks, it is a secluded place where you walk in and feel the space and time is halted. It is designed to make you feel somewhat isolated and only talk about and think about art. Whereas Google Art Project is designed in a way consistent with almost every pop culture related, trendy website. It does not seek to exclude, rather it strives to be included.
In addition, how Google Art Project was designed and programmed reflect a new trend in arts: in the era of mass production, code and page layout can be massively replicated. Thus, it no longer establishes fine arts as some kind of luxury or rarity, on the contrary, it becomes a surplus when every piece of artwork is within touch. When art reproduction is easily enabled by technology, the public’s meditation of art should have also changed since art is now also a mass-produced commodity and subject to people’s perception of value.
Also, the digitalization of artwork means that art can be unrestricted by social class. In the past, art can only be appreciated among well-educated and affluent people (considering museums usually are situated in the most gentrified areas). Now that artworks can be retrieved anytime and anywhere because of Google Art Project, art can now be seen and reinterpreted by more people from their distinct points of view, which offers an opportunity to revamp traditional arts and artist and appoint modern meanings to the older one.