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Art in the world of technology

The accidental star of the Banksy documentary, Exit through the Gift Shop, Thierry Guetta A.K.A. Mr Brainwash … now a man who has sold a million dollars worth of art with two exhibitions, ‘Life is Beautiful’ and ‘ICONS’ under his belt. Is also a man who can’t paint, draw or even create the graphic designs he sells. But has been labelled an artist. In fact throughout the documentary it is uncertain whether he even understands the meaning of his ‘art’.

The creation of Mr Brainwash forces a reconsideration of art in particular in the brave new world of new media technology. What makes an artist? And what is art?

Traditionally art was framed in neat boxes drawing, painting, sculpture ….

The infamous works of Michel Angelo … The Statue of David, The Sistine Chapel …. Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa .. come to mind.

Statue of David (Courtesy of Reuters)

Today art is slightly more difficult to classify. No longer confined by the boundaries of traditional mediums, art has expanded. Allowing artists to meld the worlds of traditional art with new technology. Social media and the blogosphere have broken down the barriers constructed by the elite art galleries and curation.

A reflection of the changes in today’s society, where news and social interaction are no longer offered on a single platform. Rather individuals are able to communicate via multiple devices and consume and create the world around them in constantly varying and expanding methods. The art world has expanded, embracing these methods of expression and incorporating them into its understanding.

Contemporary methods of communication and the effects it has on our interaction with each other has inspired the new media instillation, Intimate Transactions. Developed by Keith Armstrong, the art work is essentially an experience. Wiring up two individuals in completely separate locations, in fact they may be on opposite ends of the globe, the work allows the participants to create a joint experience.

‘The two participants … will enter a space at each location that is equipped with a touch sensitive physical interface called a Bodyshelf, embedded with sensors that detect body movement and shifting of body weight. Before getting on to the Bodyshelf, each participant puts on a wearable device that passes gentle vibrations into their stomachs, enabling them to sense vibrations of different frequencies and intensities. Each body movement influences an evolving world created from digital imagery and multi-channel sound, allowing the participants’ bodies to become aware of the other’s movements, despite the fact that they are geographically separated and cannot actually see or hear each other (ACMI 2005).’ (Armstrong 2005)

Intimate Transactions (Courtesy of MAAP: Multimedia Art Asia Pacific)

How does this technological development position itself in the world of art?

Reynold Reynolds in the Transmediale production, The Future of Art, mentions virtual reality progressing to the forefront of the art world as it expands, ‘how we understand reality and how we process information’ (2011).

This idea of art, as process, as the method which allows us to deal with and understand our environment provides a perfect link with the modern art movement towards new media. In a world where technology is integrated into our everyday existence how we are able to appreciate, and visualise it is has progressed. Rather than embracing a single medium, artists now utilise several different platforms as modes of expression.

References 

Armstrong, K 2005, Intimate Transactions: The Evolution of an Ecosophical Networked Practice, the Fibreculture Journal 7, <http://seven.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-047-intimate-transactions-the-evolution-of-an-ecosophical-networked-practice/>

Shalom, G 2011, The Future of Art, Transmediale <http://www.emergence.cc/2011/02/the-future-of-art/>

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