Art and Technology. Two sides, one coin?
As an artist, and a technologist, I’ve frequently considered the two practices to be the different and sometimes opposing sides of the same coin.
Art is, in my understanding, a limitless space, the boundary stones telepathically moved by the imagination of each new generation of innovative artists, remaking the rules, knowing them to be temporal, pushing the borders of what is considered acceptable beyond the status quo, thereby driving the expansion of culture and intellect. Ultimately, the role of the artist is to expand.
Then I consider technology. And find a mirror of art. Another limitless place, without boundary or walls, where impossibility is known to be a temporary circumstance and every ripple of innovation rises oceans of potential, technologists make the rules, and the borders of acceptability are forever expanding into our everyday.
Art has many disciplines of technical craft, the painter, the sculptor, the performer, and within each craft, subsections, the watercolourist, master of oils, the sculptor in bronze, clay, marble.
Reflected again in technology, the disciplines of the craft. The UX developer, the systems architect, the coders in a multitude of languages mysterious and alien and unleashing of new technologies never before seen on Earth, as common as daily bread.
Why do we value art so highly? A painting or sculpture by the right artist is worth a fortune, a seemingly identical piece by a different name, almost worthless. In art, history has value.
Why do we value technology so highly? A company with little more than an idea can be worth millions, a different idea, almost nothing. In technology, only the potential future has value.
The lineage of art is the history of humanity, the footprints of civilisation. The progression of ideas and philosophies, and the technologies of creation. Art has legacy, longevity, and increases in meaning and relevance with the passing of time. Art lasts, outlives the artist, outlives the society and civilisation it was created in, outlives the rise and fall of empires, the changing of the era. Technology deletes itself, the relevance declines from the moment of creation, it lives only to give birth to its successor. Consumer technology is obsolete by the point of mass production, half a decade a lifetime and a generous one at that. Our technology depreciates at terminal velocity in every metric of value.
When was the last time art made the news? Has it lost relevancy, usurped by technology, now an ever present feature of our daily read. Indeed, the very means by which we read?
What place does art have, in our technology driven, future focussed, crisis to crisis stumble through time?
Technology promises the future, each development a footprint, the sands of time record our sprint, accelerating exponentially. What then is art even for? A collectible for the wealthy? A decoration for a wall?
Balance. Art provides us with balance. Art reminds us of our humanity, connects us to our souls, shows us ourself, authentically, leads us in thought, and nourishes our creativity. Art makes us, and keeps us, human.
Balance. Ever more vital as we hurtle towards what? We’re going ever faster, but where? Or have we delegated even our direction to the masters of technology? Then where are they taking us, do they even know? Where are we going, and why?
A civilisation without technology is no civilisation. A civilisation without art is equally misnamed. Technology and Art combined, two wings, and we rise and fly. Technology without the humanity of Art, and we are not rising, but falling, flapping our single wing ever faster in blind desperation.
Where is the Art of today?