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Technology and Art: The Future

When you think about artwork, what springs to mind? Perhaps Picasso, Rodin, Dali. Now think technology, and you are probably going to envision a smartphone or even a pc. Throughout history, technology has provided artists with new tools for creating innovative masterpieces. Now, both of these apparently different disciplines are linked stronger than ever, with technology being a basic force in the evolution and development of art.

All around the world, individuals are changing the future. The World Wide Web, electronic manufacturing, nanotech, biotech, self-modification, augmented reality, virtual reality, “the singularity” – you name it, all this is shifting our own lives and our perspective of the Earth and ourselves. Researchers, software programmers, inventors, entrepreneurs, but also musicians, visual artists, film-makers and designers, are busy producing new individual experiences such as cloud computing services. Thanks to these, not merely are artworks being made anywhere, but completely new art forms are evolving too.

A growing number of artists are pushing the boundaries of art, appearing out of what is perceived as “conventional” to integrate different aspects in their work. Art has become less and less static, carrying up many new distinct contours, by printing digitally made shapes from 3D into flash-mobs to photographers lining up countless nude volunteers around the shore.

Ability of the Internet

The rules of this game are changing. Since the start of the postmodern art age, approximately from the 1860s, the very influential players, famous artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and, notably, powerful gallery owners, have been dictating the behaviour of the entire art world.

But contemporary ways that art is made, created, distributed, promoted, maintained and supported have changed as an immediate response to the world’s transition into a socially connected, electronic society, into the era of the internet.

Traditionally, artists would go to a gallery with their portfolio, and there the gallery determines whether the work is great sufficient to exhibit or not.

Now artists turn to the net to exhibit their own work and also to market it too. With new services like crowdfunding which utilise cloud computing security, for the very first time artists can increase money on the internet to pursue their ideas. In 2011 alone, crowdfunding site Kickstarter raised nearly $100m in pledges with over 27,000 art-related jobs.

Artists use social networking as a highly effective tool and sales management platform to alter the relationship between collectors and the general public, effectively spotting people searching for certain artworks. Perhaps, the traditional art market, collectors, gallery owners, critics, curators and other artists, may wonder whether the artist that utilizes the internet for marketing is a real professional. However, whatever the response could be, the shift is already occurring, and it is important. The art market will expand on it and get used to it – it always does.

True artwork?

Throughout history and up until quite recently, largely the elite engaged in the development and production of art, while the remaining part of society had been left to enjoy seeing the masterpieces.

People were only a passive audience. Now, in our connected world, just about everyone creates. Just about everyone participates. With the web and new technology of manufacturing, remixing, editing, manipulating and distributing, it’s becoming easier to make things and share them with the rest of the globe. What’s changing and arguably going to worsen is it’s currently simpler to make “art”, and we see a good deal of “bad” artwork being made and exposed.

A massive issue is that, as a consequence of numerous new instruments and methods, we might lose our awareness and capacity to evaluate what’s great art. In art, what’s popular isn’t always good, and vice-versa. Several new artwork pieces were difficult to digest when they came out. I really do see a struggle for artists to become concurrently more open to new technologies that result in novel forms of expression, and also remaining genuinely creative and innovative.

But the bounds are limitless. And as engineering, and particularly computer technology, continues to advance, there’ll always be people who will experiment, pushing the envelope of what’s been done before and who will excel in it.

Curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director of the Serpentine Gallery, once said that he didnt believe we could forecast nor prescribe the near future of artwork. It’s the famous ‘etonnez-moi’ [astonish me] of Diaghilev and Cocteau’, fantastic artwork constantly surprises us and takes us where we expect it least.

Bold directions

What exactly do artists concentrate on producing new artwork by employing technology need to consider?

One picture software programmer, Rama Hoetzlein, states “new media” artists of today need to think not only about the instruments of the current but also to take part in a dialogue with all the artists of the past, who exude us and challenge us to rise above the everyday. I feel that any contemporary artist should consider pushing the art ahead, inventing, and defining new paradigms of expression with strong meanings which may include real time gps tracking technology.

It’s all about the adventure the artist brings to the people, if it’s provocative if it affects the way the viewer thinks, views and feels the world. That is what actually counts, and it doesn’t have anything to do with all the techniques which the artist likes to utilize.

Hence the objective of a modern artist who’s choosing to make art with new technology should not be to “extract” significance in the technological stage, but to utilize it as a foundation for new bold instructions. And in my estimation, it’s the artwork that pushes the limits and defines new meanings which will affect how we feel and think, now and in the long term.

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