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 New Media Art 

The custom integration space hasn't exactly hit a point of diminishing returns, but it can sometimes feel that way. Regarding the staples of home theater or connected home technologies, integration seems only to offer so many different ways of adding the same few elements.

So when Barco Residential ventured into the architectural and home builders market with New Media Art, it wasn't to shift the foundational elements that helped create the CI industry; it was to create a new market.

According to Tim Sinnaeve, Managing Director for Barco Residential, New Digital Art is art created with new media technologies. While Barco leverages content displayed from computer animations, computer graphics, and digitally, it can also include 3D printed sculptures or busts.

Working with partner NIIO, a distribution platform for high-quality content, Barco Residential is creating a market to introduce high-quality media into homes. Sinnaeve explains that high-end galleries prefer to call it New Media Art because it's not just digital reproductions; it's innovative content in a forward-looking medium.

"The main distinction is that we're not talking about scanned versions of well-known art; we're talking about a digitized version of a modern-day Mona Lisa," Sinnaeve explained. He stresses that the main distinction - or perhaps familiarity - is the art is original, not something uploaded and presented on a virtual medium.

Adding Depth, Creating Demand, Finding a Niche

New Media Art is the natural progression of an art industry unaware of the collaboration opportunities integrators bring to the table especially with so much overlap in clientele.

"We saw that there was a bit of a disconnect," Sinnaeve said. "Despite the fact that we're talking about a situation here where the content itself is of very high value, in most cases, they would just display it on really low-end display technologies."

That cued Barco, renowned for their dominance in the home theater projector space, to approach galleries, art curators, and artists.

Typically, when a commercial space wanted to display high-value New Media art pieces at the highest resolution, there were just too many steps to make it practical. Sinnaeve noticed their solution was showing original artwork, sometimes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, on low-end entry projectors or cheap panels. He sums up the counter-intuitive measure as "Picasso painting on the lowest quality canvas, using the lowest quality paint."

"We're talking about original art that has been created, as a pure art form."

—Tim Sinnaeve, Managing Director for Barco Residential

Barco's solution for homeowners interested in displaying New Media Art in their home was identical to how they approached galleries. Sinnaeve's goal was to retain the purity of original art created in a digital format, the same way a physical piece of art would be displayed.

"It's quality, but it's also artistic freedom. It's saying if you're no longer limited to certain sizes of flat panels and you're not limited to the 16-by-9 aspect ratio, you will get a new artistic freedom," Sinnaeve said. "We can basically create any type of digital canvas any size, any aspect ratio, anything you like. That's something that's really connected very strongly with the artists and the clients."

New Digital Art is also an opportunity to bring integration into the focus of affluent collectors. After all, the focus audience is on capturing those can afford to collect priceless art, and the CI industry has only scratched the surface as far as what experiences they can offer.

Sinnaeve and his team investigated the raw potential of the market not just from a Barco standpoint, but for dealers and designers as well. He wanted to know who is leading, who the competitors are, how active the market space is, and everything in between. What he found was the industry was not kept alive by the competition, it was held alive by enthusiast clients who spend more on art than they would on a luxury car.

"We looked at it from a different perspective and noticed the raw potential of the market should be defined by the number of wealthy people that can afford these kinds of installations; be they home theater, be they New Media art, whatever they might be," Sinnaeve said. "The focus became that we need to find better ways of approaching targeting individuals, the ultra-high net worth individuals. We need to target them with the right kinds of experiences and then when you look at it in that context New Media art becomes an excellent way of connecting with a target audience."

New Market, Same Principles

The fundamental difference with New Media Art is what an integrator can offer to their client. By providing a new experience, there is a plethora of new complimentary opportunities reveal themselves. High art installation in a home is not a foot in the door; it should be the anchor the next projects billed for the home.

The total value of the art world rounds up to about $65 billion. While Barco is initially targeting U.S. customers, the budding project is a step in the right direction to bring builders and designers in the same conversation with integrators. While Sinnaeve understands that New Media Art is a small percentage of that market, "the market is growing and even a small percentage of $65 billion is still a lot."

New Media Art not only distances itself from traditional builds, but it also presents a new opportunity to dealers that could change the industry forever.

"For the custom integration industry, it's an opportunity to deliver these high-quality customers digital canvases to a market that has been unaware of it," Sinnaeve said. "Nobody is better placed than a well-educated custom integrator to do that. Second, it gives an excellent way to connect with the target audience, elevate the value of the custom integrator in the eyes of the target audience, and increase the opportunities for all the other value that the custom integrated can offer."

"Once you're inside the home, it doesn't really matter how you got there. If you connect with someone because they are interested enough to do a high art installation at home, that also gives you an opportunity to sell them on a great home theater. But, if you get into someone's home because they are interested in a great home theater they might also very well be interested in New Media Art," he added.