Fine Art And Technology – A Marriage Made In Heaven
Ten years ago I was beginning to experience deep feelings of gloom over the state of visual art and its future in our technological society. The making of fine art was becoming another victim of the age of technology. As an artist and educator, my spirit and passion for my profession was waning. I was on the verge of becoming a victim of progress, a dinosaur. But this wasn¹t only about me, this was about one of histories most powerful and dynamic disciplines; Art.
Technology is about looking ahead, continually searching for faster and more efficient ways to perform tasks. Art is about balancing the past with the future, exploring processes that are built on the foundations of the past and melding them with the invented processes of the present.
Paradoxically, great numbers of people were creating art on the computer. Who wouldn¹t be intrigued by all the special effects that the computer could provide a user. You could now click your way to some very interesting art and you didn¹t even have to draw or mix color, etc.
As a teacher I was envisioning all the schools filling their art rooms with computers, replacing the pencil and brush with the mouse and stylus. As the computers move in, the classics move out. Fewer and fewer charcoal and conte¹ studies, fewer and fewer brush strokes, fewer and fewer wood cuts. If no one is studying the classical techniques and theories, I question who will teach the next generation.
Progress is nothing new. Life has always been motivated by progress. The difference lies in its speed. The pace of the 90s has been so quick that we have very little time to sit back and figure things out. We purchase a piece of technology and by the time we get it home and set it up, it¹s obsolete. The opposite is often true for fine art. We are still using tools that were invented hundreds of years ago. We never stop returning to our books on Leonardo, Michaelangelo and Rembrandt. I probably could have joined the band wagon and devoted myself to creating art with a computer, but it is not that easy, especially for someone who has spent the last twenty-five years making art with antiquated tools like brushes, pastels and ink. After all these years of learning about art, its theories and its processes, how could I possibly be motivated to create computer generated art using someone else¹s options.
Well, I was wrong, way wrong! My doom and gloom was for naught. I underestimated the monster of art and forgot that it has overcome many obstacles in its long and illustrious history. It has beaten the dark ages, great wars, and some selfish and aggressive leaders. Great works of art have been bombed, burned, deemed degenerative, defaced, stolen and copied, but the art has always prevailed. Its history is too rich with great moments and remarkable individuals performing some very engaging activities for it to fall. Art is presently growing at a pace that has rarely been seen in history. With all the greatness and potential of technology, people are desperately searching out balances for the catatonic life style of a days work in front of a computer. How many hours can one look at a computer screen before they start to become lost in a technological fog..
Much of the work force leaves their jobs every day semi- spaced from the hypnotics of working at a computer. People are seeking creative and physical outlets to balance their daily routines at work. They are searching for hobbies and interests that define the quality of their life. They are respecting the lessons and romance of the past, and visiting art galleries and museums in record numbers.
In the school systems, the arts are the last of the survivors in the race to remove the electives. Most of the wood, metal and automotive shops no longer exist. Many of the schools are chipping away at the Home Economics and Agriculture programs. This leaves the brunt of the weight on the arts, most notably, music and visual art. The role and responsibility of the arts teacher in today¹s fast paced world is even greater than before and includes the preserving of the arts and exposing all the wonderful layers of learning that the arts provide the individual. More and more students are realizing their talents and seeking out directions for the future that contain some level of creative thinking and doing. Even the advent of the computer and its potential as a tool in the world of visual stimuli has opened up numerous avenues of employment for the artistic individual.
My spirits are repaired and I, as a teacher of the arts have a renewed enthusiasm, momentum and self esteem. The arts can stand side by side with technology, just fine. They are certainly opposites and in this instance opposites do attract.