How Digital Art Displaces Traditional Art

Technology in art has continually started to rise, with new technology being made every day and the emergence of new ways to create art, art has gone through an evolution to how artists can express their creativity, traditional artists have transitioned from being painters and sculptures that primarily used paint, pencils and cement to using digital art, 3D printed art and imaging software and different materials to create works pieces of amazing art that changed the whole view on art and expanded what can be created in art it also broadened the spectrum for artist as they were becoming more and more free to develop any type of work they liked.

New and unique technology created a new way for artists and viewers to see and make more art work, artists bodies of work are more accessible than ever; from films and photographs to traditional paintings they now can be searched online or if an piece of work stands out it can go viral and be circulated online where people who might not even be interested in art will be able to see an artists piece, most artists in this new generation find it easier for their work to be shared online or in social apps; for example Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Pinterest as it gets a lot more attention and views and draws in people who might not go into a museum or gallery to see the artwork but by seeing it online they might be interested in visiting the piece to experience it for themselves.

However, there is a downside, German sociologist Walter Benjamin argues that art becomes devalued every time it is reproduced, it becomes further detached from its original inspiration being the original art work. Benjamin discusses the concept of authenticity of a copy, by it being a copy it loses all value and is merely just a worthless version of the original piece “even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: Its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.” Benjamin argues, the “sphere of authenticity is outside the technical (sphere)” I believe Benjamin is saying that the copy becomes something else, a different body of work perhaps the reproduction takes away the feelings, the emotion, the context and the meaning behind the art and how it impacted society or how it made the viewer feel, thus the whole feel or the meaning is lost from mechanically produced copy. Benjamin’s concept of the aura of a work of art derived from the work of Ludwig Klages.

Technology is and has played a big part in the type of art that is being produced in different eras, any new technology that is discovered can be argued that it pushes the trend of art that we see for certain time periods for example, Andy Warhol being at forefront of the pop art movement where new techniques and technology was discovered lead to pop art being the most popular art movement for a period of time and till this day is still popular. Machines and computers make it much easier for an artist’s idea to turn into reality and produce new and exciting artwork therefore allowing the artists to be more creative with their creations, you could also argue technology helps with improving precision, detail and ease of artistic expression allowing for bigger more detailed work done quicker and easier without the expense or amount of labour put into the piece. It also helps artists to have a voice or platform to explain their work or compare or even collaborate with people to create or be discovered and sponsored by bigger businesses who might spot the art and want to put it on clothes or bags etc. Louis Vuitton done exactly this by putting the famous Mona Lisa on one of their new Handbags.

By art being more visible to the general public it allows people to see artwork without moving from their home, and also opens up more opportunities for upcoming artists e.g. Rachel Maclean, Steve Mc Queen, who might without tech wouldn’t have their talents seen if not for being able to upload or even record their work due to the advancement of tech. Furthermore, people who might not have the money to travel to visit the piece in a gallery can view it online, but does that mean they can experience the same thing as seeing the piece in real life as they can from looking at it on a computer screen?

Advancement in technology has also meant that different genres of art are getting more love and attention and the artistic field has widely versified. Though this may not be wholly due to technology, as people can find different types of art more attractive than others but there can possibly be a link. Advancement in tech almost always leads to a higher level of art work, detail and sophistication in art work as the artists thoughts can be expressed more. I believe the new generation of viewers are no longer just interested with lifelike renaissances paintings and or Greek sculptures, there seems to be more interest in the unique and abstract types of work that is being produced by the modern artists today, art that can be interacted with and not just looked at, art where everyone who comes into contact with a piece of work will have an different reaction. 

16 December 2021
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