For $9.99 per month — less than one museum ticket — New York startup Electric Objects wants to beam art from galleries and museums into your living room.
The company announced its newest product, a 23-inch digital canvas called the EO2, on October 18. The device is designed to show static or animated artwork on a 1080p matte screen, which can be controlled from your smartphone or desktop. The screen, which is surrounded by an aluminum frame that's 21.75 inches tall by 12.9 inches wide, retails for $299.
The EO2 connects to your home Wi-Fi network, and comes with a connected app that lets owners choose which images to display. They can upload their own images, or browse an array of offerings and user-submitted art playlists on Electric Objects' platform. From there, they can freely switch between images as desired or put them in a slideshow rotation. Call it a Chromecast for art.
Electric Objects founder Jake Levine tells Business Insider that he hopes the device will make art more accessible to people who either don't go to museums or are sometimes unsatisfied with the experience. While there's value in seeing art in person, there's no comparable digital analogue.
"The connection between artist and viewer has escaped the art world for the last 10 years while every other industry has been transformed by the internet," he says. Electric Objects wants to erase that gap by forging a connection from creators to viewers on its platform.
"We have artists who live in Brooklyn and produce something, and within minutes it's up on the wall on someone's kitchen in London," Levine says.
Electric Objects' newest feature is an optional $9.99-a-month "art discovery service" called Art Club, which the company bills as a thoughtfully curated series that's updated every week. The subscription gives users access to work from museum collections — Electric Objects has partnerships with five museums, including LACMA, the National Gallery of Art, and the Getty — and exclusive original artwork. The company has an ongoing program that commissions artists to create series of five or six works for the platform. In the future, Electric Objects also plans to provide access to live-streamed performance art shows or painting sessions.
This isn't far from Netflix's model — the company also offers subscribers access to a wide array of content for a monthly fee, and pays studios to make original creative works exclusively for the platform.
Levine says his customers have been pleased with how seamlessly the viewing experience translates from gallery to home. One customer told him that she and her husband and kids were taking turns displaying different artworks and reading about them.
"That should be a museum director's dream," Levine says, "to be able to take that experience and educational mission of the organization and take it into the daily lives of their members. And it's thrilling to see that happen."
As a display, the EO2's functionality isn't much different than, say, a large-scale digital picture frame that you can order on Amazon for a similar price. But the relative cheapness of the EO2 for its size beats out the competition. Meural and Blackdove offer similar digital canvases with their own artist networks, but theirs are bigger and pricier — 32 x 21 inches for $595 and 42.4 x 24.6 inches for $999 respectively.
But at $299, Electric Objects could be an easy, affordable way to put a rotating art gallery inside your home.