When Art and Technology Collide

Dec 5, 2014 / By THINKINK

“The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative, it lets people be productive, it lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before – and so, in a sense, it is all about potential.”

– Steve Ballmer, past CEO of Microsoft and current Cleveland Clippers Owner

With Art Basel Miami 2014 taking over the Magic City, the streets of Wynwood to South Beach and everywhere in between are filling fast with celebrities, cultural enthusiasts, musicians, designers, artists and dressed-to-impress socialites from across the globe.

And with all of these A-listers glued to their smartphones through Sunday to document what they see, connect with friends and find the location of their next star-studded event, there’s no time like the present to explore just how technology and social media are impacting art that is produced and admired today.

Given that technology affects and sometimes controls our everyday lives, it should come as no surprise that is has seeped into culture as well. But does it belong?

Postcrypt Art Gallery’s new exhibit, OUTLET, which opened in St. Paul’s Cathedral last Friday, demonstrates how technology influences viewers’ art experiences, artists’ perceptions of their work, and technology’s ability to enhance art. Artist Charles Ambler’s untitled installation, for example, contains mousetraps that have their jaws clamped down on smartphones to express concern about modern technology’s disturbing intrusion into various spaces. Other artists’ works – like Andy Diaz Hope & Jon Bernson at this year’s Art Week Miami – believe in the power of technology. Through their mixed media installation, Beautification Machine (2014), they aim to “neutralize the bile and fear spewed forth daily over the networks and transform polarizing media sources into vehicles of contemplation and peace.”

Israeli-born artist Michal Rovner uses technology to make statements about society. Her piece, Shayara, a series of digital films arranged through a special layering technique, depicts lines of individuals who seemingly wander in opposite directions with no apparent destination. Lacking any real boundaries, the distant quality gives the work a certain ambiguity. And combined with the different, yet natural, perceptions of viewers who observe it, the art supports underlying feelings of “an unknown about the future.” Because of the artist’s heritage and her intimacy with centuries-old unrest in in the Middle East, the wandering, walking figures moving in opposite directions and nowhere at all communicate the notion that we are all “individual people against the rest of the world.”

The dichotomy between technology and art represents the well-document differences between the left and right sides of the brain – one creative and free-spirited, the other logical and orderly. Regardless of whether you’re for or against their fusion, Steve Ballmer, who knows a thing or two about technology, was right: It lets us be creative. The pinnacle outlet for creativity, Art Basel, seems to have embraced this trend.

Is society to blame? Or should society take credit?

We want to know what you think.


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