Graphic design. Art applications. Social media. Art blogs. Computer-generated paintings. Photoshop. Digitally created music. E-books. 3D Printing. 3D Scanning. 3D Hacking. These are just a few examples from a rapidly growing list of ways that technology is influencing art and, for our purposes, culture.
Some artists and art historians fear that quickly advancing technology is going to adversely and irrevocably impact the world of art as we know it. Others are certain that technology will impact art, but in incredibly positive ways, such as increasing its accessibility. Famous paintings are being reproduced and altered by graphic designers and computer hackers at an increasing rate, and some are concerned that art that is created digitally is an inauthentic version of the medium it is exploring. Are digital renditions of paintings really paintings at all? Many aren’t so convinced.
Conversely, artists who honed their craft decades ago are beginning to embrace and delight in technology that has allowed them to create art in new ways. Cinematographers can obviously recognize the advantages to working with film and video now as opposed to the 1970s, for example, but art purists still argue in favor of more traditional techniques as well. David Hockney, an English artist who is most beloved for his oil paintings, has taken advantage of new technology in recent years. At 76 years old, Hockney has regained fame as an artist using his iPad as a primary mode of artistic creation; many of his digitally painted works have been exhibited in large-scale museum installations. (Read more about David Hockney’s innovative art in our profile of the artist).
Thus, technology has advanced the possibilities in various artistic mediums, while simultaneously shadowed or stifled other areas. Will digitized artworks soon be preferred to oil on canvas paintings or mixed media collages? If so, where does that leave the classically trained artists who aren’t ready to compromise their charcoal, paper, and brushes for a computer screen and phone applications?
Another example of how technology offers minimal benefits is in performance. Spoken word poets, for example, might not benefit from technology the same way that a graphic designer would. However, though both artistic mediums have very different relationships with technology, one way that technological advancements undoubtedly serve both is by broadcasting each form of art to a remarkably vast audience. Because of the Internet, sharing images, performances, words, and thoughts on a global level has never been easier. This is certainly something that the art world should embrace, while remaining wary of.
One thing is for sure: advancements in technology will considerably change art and culture as we know it. Only time will tell how great those changes will be.