You’re crammed onto a couch with friends, all hunched around a single glowing iPhone like cavemen absorbing the warmth of a fire. Squeals and giggles erupt along with the sounds of “Ew, no!” and “OMG, yes!” The barely audible swish of a finger swiping back and forth conducts the scene.
The images that are popping up on the phone screen, however, don’t depict hot young men and women looking for a casual hookup or potential partner. Rather, they’re artworks, eager for you to swipe right.
Wydr is the new Swiss-based app that bills itself as Tinder for art. As the developers explain on their website, “By changing the way users interact with art and offering them a Tinder-like way to tap into the art market, we break down traditional barriers and reinvent the interaction between artist and art lover.”
Artists from around the world can upload their work to wydr through their website. Prices, determined by the artists, range from as low as $56 to over $64,000. According to Tech Crunch, over 400 artists have uploaded their work so far.
Users then open the app and swipe away to their heart’s content, their “swipe right” pile building up in a virtual gallery they can shop from later. Over time, the app aims to understand each user’s taste and curate the offered selection according to their aesthetic inclinations. The app hopes, perhaps ambitiously, to become the art gallery for the 99 percent, breaking down the traditional barriers that separate the art lover from the art establishment.
This ritual of passive, instinctual decision-making, reverting complex entities into a simple matter of yes or no (now!) has become all too familiar to most millennials. Even something as magical, powerful and mysterious as a work of art can be reduced into a quick question of left or right, hot or not. The average person spends 15 to 30 seconds in front of a painting at a museum, which already seems wildly short. To scale that down to a single second or two, especially when you’re considering actually buying the work, seems to be pushing in the wrong direction.
Furthermore, most of the art featured on wydr, well, isn’t that good. Maybe it’s just the selection I got on first perusal, before my tastes had been properly calibrated. Or maybe it’s the fact that art isn’t best experienced against a sad white background on an iPhone screen. Whatever the case, I had a lot of swipe lefts.
You can download the app for yourself -- it's free -- and let me know how it goes in the comments. May you find the art equivalent of true love or, at the very least, a casual hookup.