Art and technology are usually accepted to be on opposite sides of the creative spectrum. With the left-hand side of the brain being responsible for analytical thought; mathematics and logical skills, and right-hand side of the brain being liable for more creative and fanciful thoughts. Is there a meeting point? Could this meeting point be interactive digital technology?
What is Art?
To even start to understand if this is possible, we need to first understand what art is?
Art can be described in many ways and takes many different forms, one such description by Steven Pressfield states “Art is a discovery and development of elementary principles of nature into beautiful forms suitable for human use.”
Using this definition is it possible to suggest that interactive digital technology can be art?
While most content shared via digitally is sales or services orientated, it cannot be denied that there is often a great deal of skill and creative thought needed to create visual and interactive content, not unlike an artist painting a picture or designing an installation.
But is art defined by its uniqueness or its individualism? Is it elitist? If so does the very nature of digital signage, where content is shared, duplicated and reproduced hundreds of thousands of times, negate the intrinsic value of the content? Is great art only possible in one offs? And if this is the case, is the value of art damaged every time and image, or piece of music is replicated? Surely not, otherwise the Mona Lisa would be practically worthless, and there wouldn’t be hordes of people queuing outside the Louver gallery to catch a glimpse of it.
Digital Technologies in Museums
Digital interactive technologies such as touch screens can offer a gateway into art world, and museums like the Pan Tadeusz museum in Wroclaw, Poland, are now openly embracing digital technology, using touch responsive installations to bring art up close and personal to new audiences.
The Pan Tadeusz museum is using modern technology to showcase manuscripts and other historical collections to encourage visitors of all ages to experience the cultural legacies of Poland. The immersive technologies provide virtual journeys, cinematic screens, and engaging avatars bring the history to life, inspiring educational discussion and debate.
The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Similarly, The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, has also embraced interactive digital signage to make art and design more accessible. Cooper Hewitt Director Caroline Baumann said that in an age of social media, video games, and selfies, visitors are no longer content to be passive recipients of information. (Via npr.org).
Digital or Physical Art?
So many people now have access to art only through the digital expansion, taking again the example of the Mona Lisa. Children and adults all over the world know her face, but have never visited the Louver gallery in order to view it. They have seen the image replicated many times in print and digitally, and for many this will be the only opportunity they will ever have to see it. Does the art world want to exclude these people? Do only the rich, privileged or those living in Paris deserve to see masterpieces like this? We think not, and by embracing digital and interactive technologies such as touch sensors, artists can inspire a new generation, and encourage people to seek out the physical art that they have seen in the digital world.
It may be possible there are many art fans who believe that digitally displayed installations can never be art, but as technology advances will the creative world embrace to opportunity to digitally share works of art? Will artists be able to accept technology into their world? Let’s hope so!
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