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Aug 16

How Technology has Influenced Art

old graphic computer

A vintage graphic design computer

Technology is certainly transforming art in many ways. Thanks to the Internet almost any artist can share their creations with millions of people. As with many independent musical artists, many visual artists have cut out galleries as a middleman and they sell directly to their patrons who can view the gallery on-line. For artists who are featured in gallery exhibits, these events are more easily discovered and shared between like-minded communities with programs like Google+ and Facebook.

Artists are now more comfortable using many mediums. A century ago a painter had to rely upon canvas and paint. Today many painters are able to paint on a tablet or cell phone wherever they happen to get inspired. In the old days, an artist who received the inspiration of a still life at a café would have to try to capture it in her memory and paint it later. Now an artist in the same café can take a photo of the still life, or use a digital program to render the idea. Lugging around an easel, canvas and paints is no longer necessary.

There are artists today whose medium is software programming: fingers on a keyboard instead of a hammer and a chisel. Most Western artists have some training in programming or software applications of some type to create art. You cannot attend any respectable art school without learning a few things about Adobe Photoshop. There are sculptors today who create their sculptures in CAD programs and they then send the instructions to stone cutting factories for rendering. And that applies to plastics, vinyl, foam, and wood. Michelangelo may be rolling in his grave, but I have a feeling that the inventive Leonardo Da Vinci would approve.

At the same time, the computer era in which we live has put sophisticated artistic tools into the hands of everyday people. Those who would not have been artists a century ago are now learning how to create art digitally in their spare time. Where folk art by untrained artists used to be considered rough or crude and that was its charm, one can now argue that modern folk art is being produced on computers by amateurs all over the world. And this folk art can be quite sophisticated. The democratization of art is happening. The artist is no longer an elite role in society as it once was. The lines are being blurred.

This includes the line of media. Digital media has introduced many new tools and mediums. Hybrid forms of art have emerged. Some art is a cross between painting, photography and performance art. So much so that some artists have a hard time describing their medium. They can no longer say simply, “I am a sculptor,” or “I paint in oils.” With more choice has come more complexity and diversity of expression.

Exhibitions are often interactive so that the art creates a different experience with each individual user. Virtual immersive environments have created art that isn’t really there…it’s all created virtually with 3-D glasses and augmented reality sensors.  An empty glass cube may seem humdrum and boring, and then completely be transformed by the addition of augmented reality glasses. Suddenly the glass box appears to be filled with a school of swimming fish. Now you see it, now you don’t.  This is the stuff of magic and science fiction!

I love technology and I love art. We are living in the future…the future imagined by TV shows like Star Trek has arrived. Beam me up, Scottie!

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