One of my favourite talks ever opens with the line “Imagine spending 7 years at MIT and research laboratories, only to find out you are a performance artist”. For many, even now in the world of multi-disciplinary art, Illustrator and 3D modelling, projection mapping, and robotics – some tilt their head when you suggest that art and technology are great bedfellows. The quote above, is from the opening of a talk called “Software (as) Art” by an artist I always find interesting, Golan Levin. Levin has been crafting innovative art in this space for a while now, working with everything from animation and sound, through to hard programming and robots. And even after years of creating this art, and having a range of new artists emerge playing in this scene – there are still a fair amount of detractors:
To be fair, art; wrapped up in wrangling your imagination to examine the self/existence/beauty/emotion and life seems to be at odds with the cold, hard, view we traditionally apply to technology. But as technology becomes omnipresent, art that seeks to illuminate or exploit this seems inevitable. Some would say, logical?
Today we take a mini dive into art meeting technology, covering computer powered ways of creating on the go, through to simple technologies being used in performance art, immersive experiences and a critique of technology itself.
App creation for more creativity: making creation easier – Sketches & Pencil
Technology used: Mobile device : For those not in the know, art supplies are freaking expensive. And whilst I am keen to carry around a hand bag big enough to fit the world in – I do not begrudge someone else for thinking that a sketchbook, pens, pencils, water colours or whatever are not really worth lugging around; especially if you are going to have your iPad on you anyway. Products like Sketches and tools like Pencil by Fifty Three allow you to really create/sketch easily, on the go – either to sketch-level or as first works for final pieces. It’s great for the digital artist who goes on to finesse, re-work and revisit in illustrator or for the traditional artist, who uses an iPad drawing as a first step.
Simple technology big impact: blurring lines between viewer and creator – En Route
Technology used: Cellphone, iPod, Geographic Tracking: Created by One Step At A Time Like This, I actually got to experience ‘En Route’ in the flesh here in Auckland as part of the 2013 Auckland Arts Festival. The work encouraged the viewer to become part of the artwork. Armed with an iPod with a sound track and texts sent to you to tell you what to do next, the process was like a whimsical treasure hunt/discovery adventure. At one point a text encouraged me to walk up the stairs of Hotel De Brett to find a key in the pocket of a coat in a wardrobe, whilst later a text and a song directed me down an alleyway where a stranger grabbed my hand and ran with me down the street. As the night went on another message directed me to an envelope hidden behind a power pole, where I was told to open said envelope which contained a coin and encouragement to step into the bakery I just happened to be outside of to buy a treat.
Multi disciplinary immersive experiences: emotion created by lights- Foresta Lumina
Technology used: 3D Animation, 3D Projection, Projection Mapping, Video Production, Innovative Lighting Design & Use: Moment Factory are known for big, showy use of video and lights – think Superbowl half time shows – however Forest Lumina is much more of a soft and whimsical affair. Combining their technical skills with story telling in a natural environment “we are always trying to hide the technology so the magic comes from… you don’t know where”.
Hacking and Technology: Shining a light on tech with tech – Level Cleared
Technology Used: Angry Birds: “If the role of the artist is to reflect what is going on in the culture, and predict the world we are going to be living in then there is no more artist important than Evan Roth”. Evan’s work is expansive, covering everything from showing what the internet physically is in Voices over the Horizon, to delving into internet use and the connection to self in his Internet Cache Portrait Series. However, Level Cleared – a series of delicate inky finger prints upon rectangles of tracing paper creates a dialogue about time by its very nature. After all, the very expansive work is crafted by playing Angry Birds from start to finish. A good use of time? You decide.
Anya is a designer and illustrator, daughter of an artist and all round curious human. She also wrangles brand and communications for GridAKL – follow her on twitter here.