Technology in Art?

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Photo Credit: Bethany Garcia

I like to think of art as something made by the people, for the people. (Very Gettysburg Address if you ask me). We create art based on what we enjoy in hopes that other people may come to enjoy it too. Sometimes what one person views as trash might resonate on a completely different level with someone else, and that’s the beauty of it; art doesn’t always have to make sense.

No single person can define what makes “good” art or what makes “valuable” art; it’s simply a matter of what speaks to you. With the introduction of the world’s largest art competition in 2009, this became a true reality by giving the public an opportunity to voice their opinions along with a jury of art experts (ArtPrize, 2015).

Rick DeVos, the creator of ArtPrize said in a 2009 press release, “It’s time to reboot the conversation between artists and the public. ArtPrize will be a celebration of art, design, and innovation that will bring artists and the public together like never before” and since its creation, it has done just that (ArtPrize, 2009).  For the past seven years, ArtPrize has continued to evolve and redefine how art is created and viewed through the use of new technology.

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Photo Credit: Bethany Garcia

With that being said, I think technology should play a large role in ArtPrize as it is an important part in keeping the competition relevant with our culture. Part of the reason ArtPrize has been so successful is because it takes advantage of all of the new features and tools we have been given by integrating technology. For example, I think the updated app they released this year has a lot of beneficial features that helps visitors connect to the art on a personal level.

At the same time I feel like maybe we should slow it down a bit. Technology is a huge factor in attracting younger crowds to ArtPrize and making it interactive, but sometimes I feel like it hinders us from actually seeing the art.

Technology has taken our world by storm and it is definitely redefining how we create and view art. It’s everywhere we look and in almost everything we use, but it feels consuming at times. I’m not saying that we should disregard technology completely, but rather take the time to actually stop and appreciate the art for what it is. I feel that in the future almost all art will become digitally created and few people will remember what it was like to experience art firsthand.

This year my trip to ArtPrize was rather unique as I was specifically looking for the ways technology was being used, but when I left I really couldn’t remember what I had seen. I was too consumed with taking pictures, voting on my phone, mapping out my path on the app, and sending Snapchats that I missed out on the meaning behind some of the pieces.

While I’ll be the first to admit that technology is great, sometimes I think it’s important to step back and “unplug” from the world of gizmos and gadgets. I don’t want to lose the human interaction aspect of art that allows us to talk to the artists face to face and hear their stories and inspirations.

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Photo Credit: Bethany Garcia

ArtPrize is an experiment, a rather successful one at that, and like Christopher Smit, Associate Professor of Media Studies at Calvin College wrote, “we need to keep in mind that this experiment is one that demands our full attention, not our distracted one. Talk to people, meet the artists whenever possible, have dialogues and conversations with as many different folks as possible before ‘voting.’ It should be a lived experience before it is digital” (Smit, 2010).

While ArtPrize is already doing a phenomenal job of incorporating technology into their competition, I predict that in the future they will depend more heavily on social media and may even turn to it for voting. It is much more convenient in our society for visitors to log into Facebook and click on a picture to vote. It is also a much faster way to spread the word and reach a broader audience as “Facebook had 1.49 billion monthly active users” according to a study done in the second half of 2015 (Statistics, 2015). Hashtags are also becoming increasingly popular in spreading awareness so I can see an integration of other forms of social media being used like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to reach more people. It would also be cool to see ArtPrize host a virtual tour online so that visitors from all over the world could see the incredible art that Grand Rapids has to offer. I can already see a larger integration of technology in the art entries just within the course of one year, so it will be interesting to see what new, creative media is presented in the future!

I love technology and I love art and I love the way that they both have shaped our culture. ArtPrize has found a way to meld these two worlds together and create an incredible event that gets people talking, but it is important to remember that the “art that we… interact with bleeds; it is alive, and it depends on our talking, debating and sometimes honoring to survive. It needs much more than digital interaction” (Smit, 2010).

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Photo Credit: Bethany Garcia

References:

ArtPrize Media Kit. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.artprize.org/about/press/artprize-media-kits-reports

ArtPrize. (2015). About. What Makes an ArtPrize Unique? Retrieved from http://www.artprize.org/about

Smit, C. (2010). ArtPrize: Social Networking That Bleeds. The Rapidian. Grand Rapids Community Media Center. Retrieved from http://www.therapidian.org/artprize-social-networking-that-bleeds

Statistics Portal. (2015). Facebook: number of monthly active users worldwide 2008-2015. Retrieved from http://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/

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