Late last century, when Bill Gates moved into his 445,000-square-foot mansion in the Seattle area, there were lots of stories about his digital art frames that enabled him and his family to view electronic versions of many of the world’s masterpieces.
My net worth is barely a fraction of Bill Gates’ but I too can now view images from the Louvre, Musee d’Osray, National Portrait Gallery and two thousands other museums on my flat-screen TV.
All it takes is a compatible Internet connected TV (it currently supports Roku, Apple TV and some Samsung sets with more on the way) and either an iOS and an Android device running a free app called Artkick.
The service, said CEO and founder Sheldon Laube, currently includes more than 50,000 images, including “photography from some of the world’s greatest artists. Users can also add their own images from Flickr, Facebook, Smugmug and Instagram.
The art is never actually tranferred to your device but streamed in on demand from wherever it resides on the net. You start by downloading the Artkick app to your Roku or TV and to your smartphone or tablet and then use your mobile device to configure what you want to see. Once it’s set, your phone or tablet doesn’t have to be on. The images stream directly to the TV or Roku via your home Internet connection, not from your phone. But if you want to change what you’re looking at, you do that with the mobile app.
You can have images rotate never, every day, every minute, hourly or at other increments. Some people, said Laube, enjoy having a piece of art displayed in their living room for days at a time while others prefer having them rotate more often.
Most of the art displayed on the service is in the public domain. Laube said that copyright law allows free use of any material from an artists who has been dead for 70 years or more. And there are a lot of great artists in that category.
There is also photography, including some great images from Ansel Adams.
Currently there is no advertising but that could change said Laube. Laube also plans to offer premium services in the future, including access to special collections of non-public domain images.
My biggest question about the service has to do with electrical usage but, said Laube, today’s TV sets are very energy efficient. He estimates that you can run a 32-inch TV 24/7 for about $35 a year. As per me, I’m using Artkick when I’m in my livingroom and not watching TV but even though leaving it on 24/7 wouldn’t bust my budget, I still turn it off when I leave the room for more than a few minutes. But when it is on, I get to look at priceless works of art for virtually nothing.