News Article

The Growing Relationship between Art and Technology

22 May 2019

Art and technology have a complex but meaningful history of working together and influencing one another. In many ways, they have evolved alongside each other to arrive at their place in the world today; a digital age where they constantly overlap and portray new ideas. Christie’s Education discusses how the innovations in technology have directly impacted the art world, and will continue to do so in the years to come.

Innovations in Art

With every new evolution in technology, art changes too. However, this doesn't just apply to their production. The way art is viewed, shared, consumed and subsequently sold is constantly transforming too. Technology has made art far more accessible. Just like with countless other aspects of modern life, the internet has allowed art to be consumed in a more direct way, opening the industry to a wider and more diverse audience. Museums showcase collections online, and artists have all the tools they need at their fingertips to promote and sell their own pieces – often without the challenges that come with running a physical exhibit. 

It’s clear that the relationship between art and technology has led to many exciting new pieces and techniques. Significant innovations from the past couple of decades include:

AI-Generated Art


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Is Artificial Intelligence the next great Art Movement? Although experts attempt to keep us in check and suggest the revelation is still in its infancy, it’s hard not to appreciate this extraordinary innovation in the art world. Blurring the line between human and machine, AI-generated art offers us a new kind of unorthodox creativity. However, new findings do not come without hesitance. Some argue that art generated through computer science is definitely not art, or creative. Nevertheless, the example image above created by Mario Klingemann, show us artists are continuing to experiment, combining art and technology further, as one.

Blockchain


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Blockchain has multiple purposes for the art world, and has the potential to make an even more significant impact. In a 2014 report, The Fine Arts Expert Institute (FAEI) found that over 50% of the artworks it had examined were either forged or not attributed to the correct artist. The rise of blockchain can help change this and maintain the all-important authenticity in the industry. Providing a public list of records, using cryptography, means that these records aren’t so centralised. This means that they aren’t vulnerable to be hacked, as the list is hosted by a million computers rather than just one. This is something that will be explored at great length this June, at Christie’s Art+Tech Summit: The A.I. Revolution, held in New York in conjunction with Christie’s Education and presented by Hyundai.  The summit will explore the ways in which artificial intelligence is making its impact in the art world, as well as addressing its potential implications for the future.

This advancement in art attribution is widely approved by art professionals. Nicholas Cary, Co-founder and President of Blockchain.com, commented that:

“People are very conscious of privacy in the art world, people are wanting to make transactions in private ways – there are ways of doing that with blockchain technology which make it possible for both the buyer and the seller to faithfully execute an economic transaction where everyone gets what they want with a high degree of privacy and a high degree of certainty.”

Anne Bracegirdle, Photograph Specialist at Christie’s also stated that:

“More transparency equals more trust. More trust equals more transactions. More transactions equal stronger markets. The goal [of blockchain] is not to disrupt, but to enhance user experiences- and by doing so creates a more inclusive marketplace.” 

As well as maintaining authenticity, art transactions can be tracked using blockchain. Digital artists are creating pieces tailored for trade through cryptocurrencies. In February 2018, a blockchain crypto-art piece, Forever Rose was sold to a collective of investors for cryptocurrencies with a value equivalent to $1,000,000 USD.

Virtual Reality


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Using headsets and technologies, including hardware like the Oculus Rift and Google Glass, institutions and artists are experimenting with virtual reality to create and share dynamic and immersive art experiences. Developing these three-dimensional and simulated environments is potentially one of the most exciting innovations in art, particularly for the consumer. In many ways, it has completely transformed the creative experience. 


On the opposing side, there are concerns across the art world as to who owns the pieces. For instance, if created with Tilt Brush, artists own their work, but Google retains a worldwide license to reproduce or modify the work for promotion or development on their own platforms. In reality, there are bound to be teething issues with such a new piece of technology. These are likely to be ironed out as the industry gets up to speed with the rate that technology is progressing.

It is evident that the art landscape is undergoing a drastic transformation as it enmeshes with technology. These two disciplines may seem different or contradictory – however, we have shown that there is a lot that binds these two together. With rapid new advancements in technology and shifting perception of art in both its artists and consumers, we can expect to see exciting new developments over the coming decades, and a better understanding of how these will affect the creative world as a whole.