Making a fine impression

Jul 08, 2018, 07:43 IST | Benita Fernando

It may cost a bit of your savings, but you get over a thousand artworks for that price and full bragging rights

Making a fine impression
Meural Canvas has gesture control, which allows you to learn more about the artwork on display and browse collections. Pics/Nimesh Dave

In our space-starved Mumbai homes, there is only so much that can go up on the walls. You will find yourself often choosing between that childhood picture from Shimla and that trip to Tuscany last year, or that Monet print from the Met and the retro Bollywood poster from Chor Bazaar. Limited wall space and storage facilities, and the sheer humidity of the city make us often rethink heavy investments in framed, wall-mounted works.

So, you think, you'll just opt for a digital frame, and upload an endless stream of pictures. Except — that's just plain tacky, right? A piece of metal, the bright screen, images that might pixelate with poor resolution... However, the reaction we had from the newsroom when we hosted a Meural Canvas for a fortnight was far from this. We had our colleagues walk all the way from across the floor just to have a look at this high-end piece of tech.

Most were impressed, but not before they asked, "What's this?" Meural Canvas is a gesture-controlled digital frame, developed in 2014 by Vladimir Vukicevic and Jerry Hu. The entrepreneurs were able to develop a product that bridges the gap between fine art and electronic gadget (the website www.meural.com says that the product was prototyped with feedback from artists).

Meural Canvas, displaying Winslow Homer's The Gulf Stream (1899). The work is housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the artist's name lends itself as this Meural Canvas model's name, the Winslow
Meural Canvas, displaying Winslow Homer's The Gulf Stream (1899). The work is housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the artist's name lends itself as this Meural Canvas model's name, the Winslow

The frame uses open network Wi-Fi and a mobile phone app to control its features. You can also add your collection through a USB drive. The coolest part, however, is that the Meural Canvas' library allows you to access 16 collections, such as the New York Public Library, Magnum Photos, and from Mumbai, Art&Found. This means you can "hang" thousands of licensed artworks, in HD, with absolutely no loss to detail.

Chances are, you will be able to see things a little more sharply, the blues of Vincent van Gogh's Irises a little more deeply. In a decade where digital frames are so passé, how does Meural Canvas compare? Aditya Mehta, the young entrepreneur behind Art&Found, tells us, "Most frames are simply used for displaying what one can load on a pen drive.

The Meural is for displaying art." He adds that Meural Canvas' most unique feature is gesture control. This "hand wave-like novelty attribute" was surely a hit in the newsroom, as journalists had a go at commanding the frame to do their bidding. Even Mughal emperors would have been put
to shame.
"If you juxtapose the Meural next to regular [non-digital] frames, you can't tell the difference. The matte non-reflective screen doesn't give away the fact that it's a digital picture," he continues. We also loved the frame itself. The model we tried out is fashioned from American Walnut, which makes it classical and yet understated.

While a lovely addition to our office, and definitely to your homes (imagine Meural Canvas hung above your stylish bar cabinet, and changing pictures to suit the occasion), here are two warnings: Firstly, you need an open network Wi-Fi, and secondly, when our colleagues fidgeted about with it, we told them to be careful, for the frame costs `70,000. And, that's just the introductory price. But, when you go to the electronics store and check out models that come for one-fifth the cost, you'll know what makes a Meural Canvas stand out.

Specs for the model (Winslow) we tried:
30.4" x 20'' x 1.6''
27" 1080p IPS display with anti-glare technology
1920 x 1080 full HD resolution 
8GB storage

Order Meural Canvas through Art&Found (www.artandfound.co/contact). The plan includes a one year access to all artworks, full-replacement warranty and free set-up.

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