Art in the digital age

Digital technology’s impact on the production and process of sharing art is immense. Any child growing up today will likely first become familiar with what “Photoshopped” or digitally altered images are before they have any idea how light-sensitive film works.

This digital dominance spills out into almost all categories of art. Electronically synthesized music has become very popular and preferred by some over hand-crafted instrumental tunes.

Current technology also allows for artists to sculpt their 3-D works using 3-D printers and similar tools by entering the dimensions and measurements they wish to materialize. Virtual reality and multimedia simulations are ever-evolving platforms for the delivery of messages and sheer entertainment, from news broadcasts to concert performances and museum exhibitions.

It seems we still are, or are amongst, the nostalgic and classically-intrigued generation. We’re generally interested in both the original and more modern forms of art and communication.

Though a great number of young people and young adults did in fact pick up a digital camera before a Polaroid, the drive to use and learn about both is often there. Many of us also listened to raw acoustic or electric (amplified or distorted in the moment) music before hearing electronically simulated music.

What I’m observing now is that people are largely interested in intense digital advancements: technology that makes our lives exponentially easier and our products increasingly refined. Will technological dependence increase our interest in the history of the arts so we can better understand our mediums in their totality, or will it drive us further away from the old as we advance and perfect the products available?

The answer to this question probably lies in personal preference, but the curious nature of personal preference is that people are social creatures. Collective thoughts and culture intrinsically influence the preferences of individuals.

Some people love to learn the history and inner workings of their favorite mediums, and others are interested in the refined tools developed over the years as digital technology progresses. It’s completely possible, and not uncommon, to pursue either avenue of exploration about any chosen art form.

Though there are critics of digital art and music, who often make their judgements with consideration to art history and its classical techniques, the fact remains that art is a form of expression. It is always changing, always remembering, always looking forward and always living in the moment—just perhaps not all at the same time or place.

Hopefully, appreciation for all art forms—whether they are new, old or anywhere in-between—will persist and expand. Art “snobbery” is the only thing that may hold us back. So if there’s anything you take away from this, let it be that you don’t have to like something right off the bat for it to be worthwhile.

Without assuming or claiming any specialty, it can be said that digital artists are at the forefront of creative experimentation today. These artists are pushing the boundaries and taking leaps before and responding to information and art from around the world, something that could not have been done a couple generations ago.

Regardless of artistic method, the endeavor of artists remains the same. Say what you need to say. Linguists will express drama, emotion and situational oddities, musicians will play out their abstract moods by creating and manipulating sounds, and visual artists will provoke thoughts and memories in the imagination (and sometimes the outcomes of each form will intermingle). Art is and will remain an irreplaceable form of communication, even language changes over time.