There are names that are so illustrious it seems inconceivable to ever forget them. Artists Michelangelo Buonarroti, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock are a few, and their art is forever adorning the walls of galleries and public spaces for all to admire.
As a society, we understand that art is eternal. It’s prevailed thousands of years of evolution—the fall of empires and rise of new civilizations—and in doing so, it's created a realm where memories and stories of the past transcend the bounds of time. Art keeps the stories of remarkable people, like inventors, leaders, scholars, and of course, artists, alive. Claude Monet’s impressionist landscapes have served as the background on our phone and laptop screens since their inception. Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory was my first introduction to his eccentric surrealism. Pollock transcended his time by pioneering the abstract expressionist movement throughout the twentieth century, piercing preconceived notions about art and what it could be. We are centuries removed from some of the greatest minds that have ever lived, some merely a century apart, yet we continue to have the most sophisticated access to their work.
Technology, social media, and digital art have made art more accessible than ever. Virtual tours of museums, artifacts of ancient cities, and global architecture can be obtained on an infinite index of knowledge from anywhere around the world—all at our fingertips. As the memories of historians, artists, and intellectuals dissolve from our memories and existence, technology arises to bridge the gaps.
Technology and social media have held a pulse on our society by capitalizing on the aesthetics of art and the exclusivity of curating a fusion between them. Unbeknownst to us, this has become revolutionary, not only in the way we view art, but the way we create it. Galleries have held a monopoly on artist accreditation for years, as they were seen as the silent nod of validation within the art community. To be displayed in a gallery was to achieve a status of success as an artist, proving the quality and worth of one’s work. Yet, with the rise of technology, we see this notion dilapidated, as artists’ social media continue to be their own gallery for people to view at any given moment.
Direct interaction with audiences, prospective buyers, and fans can be streamlined through automated software, simplifying communication through channels and direct messages. And while social media has become a primary spot to showcase one’s work, digital exhibitions are on the rise, attracting scholars and the average person alike.
Digital exhibitions allow for an immersive experience, and while it takes many brilliant minds to make something like that happen, it’s the artist themselves that make the events possible. We see this phenomenon of artists, long after death, resurrected through their bodies of work and given new life through the eyes of twenty-first century modern art. Van Gogh’s exhibitThe Immersive Experience, has been touring since 2017 and has brought millions of visitors inside his masterpieces. With an estimated 4.5 million tickets resulting in around $250 million in revenue, not including the additional profits from roughly $30 million in merchandise, it’s hard to deny that these experiences offer something unprecedented in the art world. However, as much as digital exhibitions are a viral sensation, it is debatable that the convergence of technology in the art world complicates artistic integrity. The perspective of the art through a viewer's eyes is a part of the circle of life in a piece of work. By displaying portraits and paintings in a different medium than intended by the artist, it can be interpreted by purists as skewing the original art piece—even though the exposure of masterpieces from the past has skyrocketed through technology. From paintings to songs, art has been redistributed and living within the digital footprint of our world forever.
Museum consultant Mark Walhimer is cautious to accept the idea that, “these projections [in the digital exhibitions] are art pieces in and of themselves,” he said. The cost of ticket prices at around $50 allows guests access to a regenerated sequence of Van Gogh’s art in an elaborate visual crescendo throughout the room, occasionally accompanied by sounds or music. Though, the regeneration of these experiences can encourage people to experience the actual paintings and, in turn, benefit museums and the artists’ legacies.
Graphic design, digital painting, and mixed media utilize technology to wield the power of our mind from our fingertips. Even photography has faced its share of strife and misunderstanding in the world. Jonathan Berger, of Newfields, an Indianapolis space that incorporates the Indianapolis Museum of Art, shares this sentiment. Berger said, “It wasn’t that long ago that photography was looked at as something that didn’t belong in museums.” Inexperience is irrelevant with tools like a computer or a camera. A traditionalist requires a certain array of materials in their arsenal, such paint, pencils, canvas, or film. Though these mediums are evolving alongside their digital counterparts, artists' palettes are expanded in the form of computer software. Should this be your taste, gone are the days of expensive purchases and pencils and in its place, a medium of material simplicity and a subscription to computer software companies like Adobe.
While the united front between technology and art has awarded us many benefits, opening the doors to unrestricted access to the world of technology beckons a wave of potential issues. Theft and plagiarism weigh heavily on artists throughout social media, and the ability to protect their work from anonymous threats among a sea of faceless identities can be an endless pursuit.
And then there leaves another drawback: the algorithm. With catered content likened to our exact interests and behaviors, there leaves less room for people to be exposed to artwork beyond what’s already in their feed. Algorithms are curated perfectly, giving us an endless chase after gratification and easy entertainment. And not only that, but independent artists have to wear every hat within their business, such as providing content to social platforms, devoting time to engagement within their networks, and admin work on top of just wanting to pursue their passion of creating. While technology and social media has given artists a platform that reaps benefits previously unattainable, there seem to be inevitable consequences too.
Regardless of the rebuttal of digital exhibitions and social media platforms converging art and technology, they are here to stay. Art is an integral facet in our society and evolution. It is the link to our humanity and the thread keeping our stories alive. The expansion into technology was inevitable and the growth will continue to branch off and take root in similar projects and endeavors.
Edited by: Samantha Fencil
Layout by: Angie Pantaleon
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