Culture + Innovation
HIGH TECH

Culture + Innovation

Today higher technologies are the language and medium of the new generation, with a transformative effect on almost every sphere. To discuss the cases of its influence on culture, education, and the museums, in particular, we talked to Arman Atoyan, the Co-founder of Arloopa, IT company specialized in the creation of AR and VR products.

Interview : Margarita Mirzoyan    Photo : Arloopa

 

 

 

Your company was always engaged in cultural and educational projects. Usually IT companies have a different purpose, more “technical.” Why did you choose to “invest” in culture?

Art is the most beautiful manifestation of humanity, which is proven by the monuments and artworks from previous centuries, that is still important to this day. In all times, every groundbreaking innovation and event was written down by people. Starting from the first men who drew on the walls of the caves, ancient Egyptians who wrote on the papyrus, later followed by the invention of canvas, paper, typing machines, and, finally, the emergence of cinematography. The formats were different but, in all centuries, people continually “recorded” the important aspects of their life.

Arman Atoyan

Arman Atoyan

 

Today, the “tech revolution” is on the rise and it dictates its own rules. A new format has emerged, and people who make art in digital space are the same fantastic artists who brought novelties in the previous centuries. The Da Vinci of today can be the senior engineer at Apple, who works on AR Glasses. So, we cannot say that the ancient cultures are replaced by something new. It’s just the format and the representation that has changed. As the innovative technologies are integrated into our lives, it’s interesting to see that the same way as the laptop took the place of papyrus, likewise the format is offered by this century. Martiros Saryan of today would make art in VR and we would be able to get immersed into Saryan’s Armenia.

For us it’s interesting to work with artists, museums and art in general, as even though the format has changed the content has remained the same. Actually, these format “revolutions” were always implemented by artists, so we want to collaborate with them as we understand that they are the creators of the content, while our mission is to help them modify their art to the “high tech” requirements of the modern era.

Of course, IT solution on its own is not enough to attract the viewer, but we provide technical support to the artists to make their art relevant. The “technical person” might not be able to draw a painting but he might be the one to create the best paints for the artists. Thus, we partner up with them, provide them with all the necessary tools.

High-tech in Saroyan House, Fresno

High-tech in Saroyan House, Fresno

 

Recently, you have actively cooperated with museums; the projects with Saroyan Museum, Khachaturyan Museum. Why are museums of such particular interest to you?

We always say that Armenia has a very rich heritage and history. The museums are the places where people can witness all that. But the promotion of the museums is not very active and there’s a lack of digital representation for the foreigners to see the great Armenian artists and their artworks. But today, we live in an era where we can promote them via innovative technologies and make our art vocal around the world. We can fascinate people who visit museums in Armenia via integrating innovative solutions and surprise them with our advanced approaches. We want the progressive initiatives in Armenia to become an example for the foreign companies and partners, which will bring a wave of interest to our country. For example, the case of Aram Khachaturian Museum, the promotional video went viral with positive feedback from across the world.

We know that in several years people will come to the museums with new gadgets, so the museums should go in hand with the digitalized world to keep attracting people. One thing remains the same, people come to the museums to get spiritual food, and the deeper the experience, the higher the guarantee is that the number of visitors will increase.

Aram Khachatourian’s street art was augmented by Arloopa recently

Aram Khachatourian’s street art was augmented by Arloopa recently

 

How innovative technologies and museums, and art, in general, can collaborate without disturbing each other. Where is the thin line?

I don’t think that art will be harmed, or people will stop visiting museums. For example, the modern movie director will create a VR movie, making the experience more immersive, and it’s normal. No one will blame the director for not using the old methods of filmmaking.  Innovative technologies cannot replace the art or the museum experience itself. IT solutions just help to cut the gap between the artwork and the humans.

 

Like Arloopa’s Room of Van Gogh…

Exactly, it just got 10.000.000 views on social networks. But it doesn’t keep you away from visiting the museum to see the original, quite the opposite, it awakens your interest and motivates you. Digital copies will never replace the originals.

Arloopa’s Room of Van Gogh

Arloopa’s Room of Van Gogh

Arloopa’s Room of Van Gogh

 

Do you think that the tandem of culture and IT, let’s take the example of museums, can become a success case for the promotion of Armenia at a larger scale?

Yes, definitely, but there’s still a long way to go. There are several global problems. First of all, for a lot of people, this type of initiative remains unusual and weird. The second problem is that there are many museums that want to integrate such approaches in their practice, but they cannot make it due to the lack of resources. But to make the museums more attractive for the younger generations, the museums need to advance technologically.

Just imagine, the visitor goes to Erebuni museum and sees only the fragments of the great fortress, but the experience could be more impressive if the person put on VR glasses and appeared in that era and saw the real beauty of the castle. Definitely, people would pay for it. But there’s a communication problem with the society. There’s a need for people willing to invest in these ideas, there’s a need to engage the government in this kind of projects.

Recently, we’d had another collaboration with the Museum of Russian Art in Armenia. We created the AR version of Mikhail Vrubel’s “The Demon and Angel with Tamara’s Soul”,  but this is just one painting from the thousands which we could have “brought to life”.

Today, innovative technologies bring depth to the artworks in the museums, with a key mission to bring the younger generations to the museums. If we communicate with them with the technologies they know and through the same medium, the message will be well received and interpreted correctly.

Augmented reality in Smithsonian Museum

Augmented reality in Smithsonian Museum

 

What are your predictions, how do you see the culture+tech collaboration in the future?

This kind of initiatives is quite popular abroad, as their museums have certain budgets to implement creative ideas. For Armenia, I would want the government and opinion leaders to acknowledge that there’s a need for such projects, to bring modern experience to the museums in order to keep and increase the interest. Currently, most of the projects we have implemented are based on private and our personal investments but this won’t work in a long-term perspective.

A year ago, we created the VR version of Sargis Muradyan’s painting “The Last Night /Komitas” to present at the National Gallery. However, we thought we could make it available not only at one location but we could have it spread all over the world so that everyone would be able to try out. Thus we ended up creating also the AR version of the painting. It can become a huge promotional step, as it enables anyone  to get acquainted with the Armenian Art through AR portals from all around the world.