The new marriage : Art & Tech

In May 2019 the European Parliament has lauched a report about the pas, present and future synergies of Art & Technology.

Great Pyramid of Giza
Technology and the arts are generally considered distinct sectors of contemporary society, albeit with some important links, akin to those between the commercial, industrial and legal sectors. However, technology and the arts have a long and special relationship that permeates all stages of human development.
Indeed, this relationship is invoked with every mention of the word technology, which has its origins in the Ancient Greek tékhnē, meaning art.
From the first paintings to the production of musical instruments and contemporary cinema, art as we understandit today would simply be impossible without recourse to humanity's historical cache of technological development. Throughout history and modernity, technologies ranging from ink, paper and glass to cameras, microphones and computers have enabled new forms of art. Without them, it would be impossible to realise the paintings, ornaments, photography, cinema and contemporary digital works that fill our museums and galleries. Looking at art in this way invites a key question: How does technological development enable new dimensions of artistic endeavour?
The reverse of this relationship is also important, with the arts driving innovation and generating substantial demand for technology. In the course of their work, artists often develop new techniques and push the boundaries of the imagination in ways that can provoke new directions in technological development. Wider activities in the arts – from preserving and restoring ancient works to producing stunning visual graphics and immersive environments – also generate substantial demand for innovation. Demand for technology is also evident in the consumption of art, notably through audiovisual equipment and content. Looking at technology in this way invites a second key question: How do artistic endeavours enable new dimensions of technologicaldevelopment?
The two questions reveal different aspects of the same deep synergetic relationship between technology and the arts. They support each other, and the outcomes are valuable for artists and technologists while also providing wider social, cultural and economic benefits.
This invites a third key question: How can the synergetic relationship between technology and the arts be optimised to maximise its benefits?In this context, STOA launched a study of these questions addressing the past, present and future of the synergetic relationship between technology and the arts. The first study, conducted by Artshare, reviews historical developments from cave paintings to photography, while the second, conducted by Nesta, focuses on the digital era.
As a first step, it's important to remember, that in January 2013 the Pew Research lauched a report about the Overall Impact of Technology on the Arts.
The arts organizations represented in the survey tended to agree with the notions that the internet and social media have “increased engagement” and made art a more participatory experience, and that they have helped make “arts audiences more diverse.” They also tend to agree that the internet has “played a major role in broadening the boundaries of what is considered art.”
Yet at the same time, the majority of arts organizations surveyed also thought that mobile devices, ringing cell phones and texting create “significant disruptions” to live performances, and that technology contributes to an expectation that “all digital content should be free.” Survey respondents were split regarding their opinions of whether technology had negatively impacted audience attention spans for live performance, but they uniformly disagree that it has “diluted the arts” by opening new pathways to arts participation and arts criticism.
Despite comments in open-ended responses, only 35% of respondents agree with the statement that the internet has shifted arts organizations’ focus towards marketing and promotion, and even fewer (22%) thought that the internet and its endless offerings are leading to a decrease in attendance at in-person events.

The Venice Biennale is the oldest, most iconic and important contemporary art event in the world. Founded in 1895, it remains today, as it has for over a century, a unique event that provides an unmitigated glimpse into the art world today.

The 2019 Venice Biennale (May 11 – November 24), offers a moment to stop, pause and reflect. Entitled ‘May You Live In Interesting Times’, curated by Hayward Gallery’s Ralph Rugoff, the main event gathers 79 artists from all over the world, presented across two main venues, the Giardini and the Arsenale, alongside a record number 90 national participants and 21 collateral events.

As an active participant, the technology is present in almost all the exhibitions.

The Geneva-based, Franco-Swiss art historian Charlotte Laubard organises the exhibition in the Swiss Pavilion. “As professor and head of the Visual Arts Department at HEAD—Geneva School of Art and Design, Laubard’s research focuses on the uses and value of art, on the impact of digital technology on a society undergoing profound cultural transformation, and on self-learning practices,” a statement says.

New Zealand’s artist choice is Dane Mitchell who was selected last year by the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa. “[Mitchell’s] sculptural project will be simultaneously present whilst hiding in plain sight. Broadcasts that give voice to invisible realms and phenomena will be transmitted throughout the city of Venice, conveyed by modern and contemporary technologies,” a project statement says.

Amont the 3D graphics, here’s five highlights :

  1. Jon Rafman : Dream Journal. 2016-2019 Single channel HD video, colour, stereo sound, 94’. Hosted in the central exhibition at the Arsenale, the video is a nightmare vision of a disturbing computer-generated world, exploring the effects of technology and information overload on the contemporary psyche.

  2. Ed Atkins : Old Food. 2017 – 2019 Installation with elements in different media: digital animations, panels with various texts, clothes racks with garments in tight rows.

  3. Avery Singer : Calder (Saturday Night). 2017. Instead of painting with brushes, the artist uses SketchUp, a 3-D modelling software popular with architects and engineers, to create digital compositions that are then projected and airbrushed on canvas.

  4. Ian Cheng : BOB (Bag of Beliefs). 2018-2019. A grid of monitors shows a limbo space within which an animation of a bright red, spiky serpentine creature slithers about. That’s the titular “BOB.” Depending on when you see the show, BOB will be longer or shorter, and have a greater or fewer number of heads, which branch, hydra-like, from its body, as it evolves in relation to different stimuli.

  5. Ryoji Ikeda : The Japanese visual artist Ryoji Ikeda, in collaboration with the watchmaking company Audemars Piguet, presents “Data-verse”, an installation that translates processed information into images and sounds of the hidden facets of nature. The installation consists, in a first part, of a large scale screen accompanied by a music created through the obtained data, which harmonizes the high definition video projections. Generated by an extremely precise computer programming, the work comprises a minimalist electronic soundtrack and high definition video projections of scientific data.

Old Food by Ed Atkins
Future Trends
The Nesta study included a review of trends connected to technology and the arts that could become more pronounced in future. While these are not certain, they are intuitively reasonable and serve to underline the growing importance of understanding the synergies between technology and the arts. Trends identified include:
  • Greater demand for products and services that combine artistic and technical skills in a widerrange of domains, as well as greater capacity of companies to deliver them.

  • Breakthroughs in the application of virtual and augmented reality creating new platforms forartistic expression.

  • Growing pervasiveness of games and gaming platforms, making links between creativeactivities and other fields, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

  • More accessible digital tools, and more people using them for creative purposes in a wide range of contexts.

  • Greater collaboration, driven by the need for a wider range of highly specialist skills from acrossthe increasingly broad technology-arts sector in order to deliver more ambitious projects.•Increased pervasiveness of artificial intelligence in the creative sector as recommendationsystems are used more often, and become more accurate and influential.

  • The emergence of 'creative artificial intelligence' which produces content for massconsumption or even generating personalised content for individuals in real time.

  • Greater collective participation in artistic projects, blurring the boundaries between producersand consumers.

  • Increasing role of data, as a pervasive internet of things diminishes the boundary betweenphysical and analogue spaces.

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