The Growing Relationship between Art and Technology

25 Nov 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

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.


Iconic Show

Blockchain technology 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.
We spoke with Anne Bracegirdle, Senior Director, Pace X about the core applications of Blockchain technology ahead of the upcoming Art and Tech: Blockchain course which she is teaching on at Christie's Education, New York on December 10. 

What is blockchain art?

Interestingly, “blockchain art” isn’t quite an accurate phrase. I’m happy to outline the different ways blockchain is utilized by artists, however, to help readers understand the correct questions to ask. 

“Blockchain art” may refer to physical artworks that are tokenized. More likely, it may refer to digital art, which has the capacity to be editioned on a blockchain via a ‘hash,’ the equivalent of a digital identity (digital art can take the form of TIF files, gifs, jpegs etc.). Artists are also using blockchain as a medium -- notable examples are Kevin Abosch’s project IAMA Coin and his collaboration with Ai Wei Wei called Priceless. Artists can use blockchain to fractionalize (or divide) their work into pieces, each of which can be owned separately. I encourage your readers to look into the Public Key/Private Key project at the Whitney Museum for a great example of how fractionalization can create new forms of ownership. Finally, blockchain is being utilized for crypto-collectible trading platforms like CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties
How can you sell art on a blockchain?

Blockchain technology is currently being used to edition and sell digital art via digital art marketplaces, however these platforms aren’t yet mainstream. To access them, one needs to understand how to use a digital wallet and cryptocurrency. Once these selling platforms start accepting Fiat currency, I think more people will feel comfortable trading digital art. There is an opportunity here to educate people on how to buy digital art, how to access a blockchain, and how to think about digital scarcity. I believe this education is necessary for digital art to become more mainstream.

Secondly, there are opportunities to use blockchain platforms to simplify the trading of physical artwork, and create industry-wide title registries. To move forward with this solution, however, the industry must decide how to connect the physical works to a blockchain registry, and there are a number of companies creating solutions currently. It’s my belief that the data must be connected to the property for a solution to function as a true supply chain. We will also have to agree upon which registry to use, and this decision-making may require the formation of an art world consortium. 
How can you sell blockchain art? 

The real success in utilizing blockchain will arise when trusted industry leaders and experts reach a consensus on the platforms we should utilize. Blockchain provides the opportunity for competitors to share data while maintaining institutional and personal privacy, which would simplify our clients’ lives dramatically. The increased transparency and available data would also make our industry more accessible to more people. To get there, however, our first step is to agree upon an industry provider, or providers with interoperable platforms.

Find out more about blockchain and art on our upcoming course in New York Art and Tech: Blockchain which takes place on December 10. 

Virtual Reality

Yahoo News

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.