What Role does Technology Play in Art?

By Rebecca Searle. Rebecca, 15, lives in London, UK.

In order to answer this question, we need to define art. Art takes many forms: paintings, media and film to name a few, and as the internet has become an increasingly embedded part of modern life, these forms of art have developed, and to a certain extent, prospered.

We also need to establish the context. I write this as a teenager, living in a first world country, in the twenty-first century. In the society in which I have been raised, technology and art are becoming more and more linked every day. We are constantly connected to the internet, and therefore the first thing that comes to mind when reflecting on technology and art, is the huge display of art that is to be found on social media. Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest: all of these have provided a platform for artists to share their work. For example: if someone takes a picture of a piece of art on their smartphone, they can instantly post this online and makes it accessible to the masses. Although this is a physical piece of artwork, and although those who pass it in the street may stop to admire it, it will be viewed by significantly more people once it has been posted online.

This raises the question of technology increasing problems such as piracy – and we can use the same example shown in this picture. Let’s say that hypothetically, the creator of this artwork was charging people to see it. Many years ago, the person holding the phone would have simply admired the artwork, and moved on. Even a few years along from that, the person might have taken a photo with a camera, but access to that picture would be limited, as there would be no way to share it instantly with many others. Nowadays, a person can take a picture and post it on social media, and as a result the artist will make less money, as people can see their art online for free and won’t pay to physically see it. Technology has given us the ability to immortalise art, and whilst this is in many ways a positive thing, it can be argued that it takes away from whatever message the artist has attempted to convey, and in many ways prevents artists from having control over their creation.

However, that said, there have also been new forms of art created by technology, and these rely on technology and the internet to exist. Whilst hundreds of years ago, art was paintings and sculptures only available in physical form, plays, and novels. In the last century, film was invented, which revolutionised the world of the arts, and the same process is occurring now with the creation of YouTube. Through technology, many people they have been able to earn a sustainable income by practising some form of art, whether it is something traditional like painting, or something more contemporary like ‘vlogging’ on YouTube. Here we can identify another role of technology in the Arts, in that it has made a career in art much more viable and accessible.

Art has been used as propaganda for over a hundred years, and is still used in the form of posters, trailers and many others to advertise some form of product to the public. This brings me to my next suggestion, which is that technology is used to create art, not always as a direct expression from an artist, but for another purpose. This idea has been used for centuries, with paintings done during World War II, which were designed to promote encouraging messages about the war. However, this has become much easier as technology has developed, and as a result it is the main method in which people advertise. We are exposed to so much art on a day to day basis, we rarely notice it being used to influence us in some way.

To conclude, technology has three roles in art – firstly, to create new art forms, by way of techniques and editing that was previously unavailable (for example, filters can paint an image in many different lights, giving it a new and unique artistic meaning each time). Secondly, to display it, which has led to art being more accessible. And as simplicity and an abundance of praise are two things that make an activity appealing to human beings, technology has subsequently increased the amount of people who try their hand in the arts. Finally, technology also creates art for the sake of promoting something else (often another piece of art, such as a movie). By exploring the ways in which art and technology can affect one another, it is clear that whilst art is by no means reliant on technology, as society has evolved over recent centuries, the majority of art will be more widely accessed and appreciated if technology, and in particular social media, is involved. Technology has revolutionised the world of art, and made the scale of art that is produced and available to the public increase to a level that would’ve been unfathomable to our predecessors not too many years ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletter!