Creating your first art installation can feel like a dream come true. The world in your mind can finally come alive. And while your dream may include a combination of lights, music, art, and other effects, these installations may not be appropriate for everyone. As an artist, you are the primary consumer of what you create. But when you invite others into your world, it’s important to be mindful of elements in your work that may not be for them. You’ll want to ask yourself some important questions to help you determine who the work is for, and who your art is not for. Here are some topics you may want to include disclaimers for.
When There is Adult Content
Graphic content can absolutely be art, but this kind of art should only be viewed by adults. If you incorporate violent or nude types of content into your installation, a disclaimer to warn people of that content should be included. Additionally, it would be helpful to only have people 18+ allowed into the installation. Much like R-rated movies with graphic content keep out the children, so should your art installations that incorporate similar themes.
When The Topic May Include Potential Emotional Triggers
Art is a visual and emotional experience. Photographs of war may trigger something in someone who experienced these events. Someone with PTSD over the loss of an infant might have some emotional triggers in a gallery with art created around babies. While you cannot account for everyone’s potential issues, some of the big ones you can consider are death, loss, and war. If your exhibit incorporates art around those topics, a gentle disclaimer before someone enters the installation would be a fair warning.
When There is a Lights Display That Needs a Seizure Warning
Many health issues, seizures especially, can be triggered by flashing lights, bright lights, and other lighting effects. While someone on medication like Clonazepam should have their seizures under control, it doesn’t mean they want to risk being potentially triggered by light displays. Be mindful when your art installations include flashing lights especially. This type of lighting can be difficult for people to handle. Make sure your disclaimers include something like, “this art installation incorporates flashing lights that may cause seizures. If you are sensitive to this type of lighting, please use caution when viewing the art.”
When You Don’t Want Photographs Taken
It’s natural for everyone to want to document their experiences nowadays. But as an artist, you have a right to protect your creative integrity. Art installations are about the entire experience, and you don’t want those sneak peeks making their way onto social media. When you don’t want photographs taken of your exhibit, it’s up to you to include instructions or a disclaimer to tell people why. You can easily frame it as an “In order to give you the most immersive experience possible, we ask that you do not take any photos of our exhibit unless in clearly marked and designated photo spots. We will ask you to delete any images you take of other parts of the exhibit.
When You Want People to Be Aware
Art exhibits are 3-dimensional. There should be something for people to look at in every direction when you create your displays. Whether they should look up, go a certain direction, or notice something about the art you’ve created, you want to instruct your viewers. It’s hard to pay attention in the real world because people’s noses are constantly buried in their mobile devices. Use a disclaimer to set the tone in advance. Let them know they can look and experience things from different angles and directions.
When You Want Them To Enjoy the Art
Ultimately, most artists want people to like what they see and experience. Whether it’s an installation that gets you thinking, or you’ve created art that connects people emotionally, or you’ve created something that causes a knee-jerk reaction, your art will make an impression. Use your creativity to design and develop art that speaks to more than the eyes. Create art that speaks to the soul. Leave a mark on the people who come to your installations. Help them to experience the art the way that you did when you were creating it.