Art Worlds Apart

This article looks into the implications of new technology and art in relation to editing software, cultural elitism, originality and on demand art.

In this article I will be looking into the implications of new technology and art in relation to editing software, cultural elitism, originality and on-demand art. There will be two primary case studies in this piece; Andy Warhol, and how he changed the way art is made, and how he updated original pieces, raising the question of whether new technologies have had implications for originality. The second case study looked at is Tracey Emin, who will be discussed in relation to how she changed the way that art is perceived. New technology and art has also brought about a new age of art; digital art. The new age of art will be discussed in relation to the accessibility of art, and just how technology and art are bound together with time.

The rise of Photoshop and other similar editing software has had a massive impact on the way in which we, as a mass audience, view art. Digital art is seen as a revolutionary art form as it allows for so many people to engage in both the making and viewing processes. With this being said, digital technologies have changed the way we paint and draw forever. The process of making art has evolved recently, despite computers being used to create and alter art throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, showing that the rise of digital art is not as recent as one would think despite its current popularity.

The rise of digital art has raised questions as to whether art has just come to borrow aspects of other pieces to stay relevant as there are now so many different forms of art, and ways in which it can be produced. Art has been borrowed and developed for generations, despite being regarded as something rather temporary. If we can adapt original art and masterpieces, giving them a modern twist, it could be argued that technology takes away from the original piece, removing the edge of individualism. Digital and modern art borrowing from art’s collective history, conveys the idea that artists have to break boundaries to make their art stand out. Another talking point surrounding digital art is the way in which you can actually be trained how to create digital art, as it is argued that training takes away from the actual talent needed to become an artist. With the idea of artistic talent being taught and used on platforms that are not static, this is deemed offensive by certain artists and art circles.

Digital art is seen as a lower class of art by many elitists. Art is still seen as something that is bought and collected by the wealthy, as seen with the large auctions where classic pieces reach the million mark very often. Traditionally, art (in particular fine art) has been something that is in the private domain as opposed to the public, despite many pieces located in free galleries, e.g.: The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Until art came into the public sphere it was seen only by the elite in society. Fine art has always been seen as something that holds a reputation due to those connected to it, eg: Royals. This encourages the idea of art being pretentious and out of reach, and that the industry is controlled by an influential few.

Tracey Emin, whose work ‘My Bed’ was exhibited in the Tate Gallery in 1999 and was shortlisted for a Turner Prize, has been outspoken in terms of the way in which she doesn’t believe in art elitism. In an interview with The Independent, Tracy discussed the idea of art being for everybody and that she believes that culture is for the masses, not just for the rich. Although Tracey has commented on art being for everybody, her work sells for high prices, with one piece, a neon sign reading ‘More Passion’, is displayed in Downing Street. The fact that her art is sold for private consumption goes against her previous comments on art elitism.

Another artist that is known to have changed the way in which we view and consume art is Andy Warhol. Warhol is known for his merging of fine art (eg: photography and drawing) with commercial products coupled with celebrities. Andy’s work brought art into the public domain in a way in which we had never seen before, as he used computers to digitally generate art, and was one of the first to incorporate popular culture and art. Warhol engaged mass audiences and changed the way in which we viewed the industry.

It is often argued that pop art blurred lines between fine art and popular culture. Pop art allowed the art industry to become less elitist and more relevant for mass consumption as it incorporated relatable content.

Digital art has also reached an on-the-go audience as art consumers can view gallery artworks online, including the archives of The National Gallery and the Tate. Art changing its identity in terms of presentation engages a new audience in terms of education. As the rise of mobile technology has made accessing information and content easier, it has meant that anyone who would like to read up on basic art history no longer has to actually visit an exhibition or buy a book to do so. This encourages user participation and keeps the interest in art alive, but is also negative in terms of generating money from sales. Education is also vital in terms of the artists; they have had to keep up-to-date avidly with the changes in the way art is made and presented to the level that some have explored technology in terms of shifting their work.

In conclusion, new technologies have had a wide range of implications for art, with the rise in editing software and digital art enhancement still a growing field, with its popularity bringing digital art to the mainstream market, connoting a feeling of an era of new art.