Art and IT

In my search for the impact of IT on Society I also asked myself the question: how has the IT revolution influenced artists and their art? Just like IT has changed our society, business and personal environment you could expect art probably was also impacted. I recently visted a couple of musea and looked around if I could see work of artist influenced by IT. Ove rall my journee was not very succesfull. As artist always have been challenging the status quo in society and want to create a new perspective on our view of the world, I would have expected more art being influenced by the recent digital revolution and the availability of the new ‘Online’ world.


When you walk around in a ‘Museum of Modern Art’ its old fashioned paintings and statues all over and maybe somewhere in a corner you can find an video or screen showing an artist performance or showing background information on the art of the artists itself. Musea have spend a lot of money on IT recently and information on collections itself is online available, you can by tickets online and walk around with a headset or i-Pad showing addtional information on art. I personally don’t like to walk around with a headset in a museum because I would like to see art as it is and have my own thoughts on it while walking around, This art consumisme is very popular, I once was is a German museum in Heidelberg and I could only visit the museum in a group with a guide and a mandatory headset, I refused to go inside of course!

The MoMA in New York for instance has a ‘Digital Member Lounge’ but it only shows their own collection already in the museum and video’s around their existing work. Why not give young artist space for experimenting with new art in this environment?

So walkingaround I found out art itself is not changed at all by all this new devices and online opportunities now available, I only found a few examples of art influenced by IT which gave me an interesting and powerfull new perspective:

1. New work of David Hockney – a new tool creates a new art.

imageDavid Hockney uses an iPad and a simple drawing programme to produce paintings. Instead of taking pen or pencil to paint he simply uses the available IT tools and is investigating what the limitations and new possibilities of modern It are. See this video of David Hockney painting or this website Artsy David Hockney website.

=> IT can be used as a tool to make art easier, quicker or even in a new format.

2. Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors – IT creates a new Art experience

imageLast summer I was visiting the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao walking around I suddenply entered a room where a lot of bug screens where playing a video of an orchestra where the musicians all where at different locations and still playing together as an archestra. The performance showed different locations linked together by IT and create a wunderfull and exiting experience, see this video of this performance at the Bilbao Guggenheim exibition.

=> By using IT tools a complete new user experience can be developed.

3. Ai Weiwei – using old school art to express political engagement.

imageAi Weiwei is living under permanent surveillance and experiencing what this means for our privacy. This work above expresses a CTTV camera constructed in marble pointing at the historical roots of art end the Big Brother aspect of IT.

“Most of us aren’t fully aware of how truly all-encompassing the current surveillance infrastructure is and how quickly we are making it larger still. We often don’t realize how much the technology can already do today and how we are letting it play a large part in our lives.”

=> Artist can demonstrate through their work what the impact of IT on society is, this can have both a positive and negative impact.

4. Daniele Gatti : Art as an expression of the the world without IT


This month Daniele Gatti, the new appointed Dutch Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s chief conductor Gatti , gave an interview in Nieuwsuur and gave a nice definition on what, according to him, the function of classical music is nowadays; ‘Listening to a classical concert is an experience where you can be listen and try to understand music and reflect on things you in between being busy participating in the modern online world’.

=> NOT using IT is a statement to…

The changing world.

If you look at the prices paid for art nowadays the most valuable art is art that is designed by an artist and produced by other people, it’s all about marketing your ideas and create buyers who see your work as a good investement. Artists like Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons are good examples of this. What they have in common is that their work is unique and can be sold as a product, thats why this is interesting for the art industry.


Using IT for art purposes is a new concept and probably at this moment young artists are already producing art without knowing it. Creative designers, developers of games or apps and even TV series using a lot of IT will probably in time be seen as Important artists.  In the meantime, the ART industrie keeps focussing on objects which can be  sold on the art market. See for example below object from the tv serie Game of Throne shown in the Museum of Comtemporary Art in Australia, an object used in the serie becomes art, what would the Queeen be thinking while looking at this thone?


I challenge the art marketeers to look more closely to what’s happening regarding Art and IT, looking at above examples I really had a new experience, is this not what art is all about?

About Gerard Geerlings

Gerard Geerlings, socioloog en schrijver, schrijft online over wat er zoal aan de hand is op het terrein van de digitale samenleving, de troost van kunst, praktische levenskunst en de actuele politiek.
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