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Art and technology have always intermingled throughout human history. From Archimedes to Da Vinci to watchmakers to now, digital media. In years past, oftentimes art would push the bounds of technology, but today, new technology is pushing the bounds of how artists are able to express themselves and develop their artistic vision.
Artificial intelligence is one of those technologies that is allowing artists a tool like they've never had before – the ability to design something that creates art itself.
How technology influences art
Before we're able to look into technology as an artistic tool or medium, we have to examine just what it's done to the art world in general.
Smartphones, the internet, Instagram – social tech – is drastically changing how the world engages with and reacts to art. For most people, the last time they went to an art show was probably some time ago. However, the last time that they engaged with an artists' work is probably no less than 24 hours prior to the present.
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If one has a Google Chromecast or similar smart TV/picture product in their house, the public now has the ability to bring a curated collection of artistic works into their home every single day. World engagement with art may have shifted away from the physical visitation of galleries and studios, but through modern technology, people of all ages can experience art wherever they are.
In essence, the experience of art has been democratized through social technologies.
Technology is changing the artistic expression
You might be rolling your eyes at the thought of an artist creating a true work of art on something like an iPad, but I'd pose a question to you in response. Was a horse-hair brush or an adjustable easel not a technological invention of its time period? The tools that artists use to create art only influence the presentation and often the style of expression, they don't negate the expression itself. Technology is only the tool at the hands of artists.
The advancement off technology only changes or expands how artists are able to express their vision. It also can increase the throughput of a given artist, allowing for higher complexities in designs.
It also opens up the avenue for non-traditional artistic expression. Say, for example, portrait work of strangers that you've never seen before through the analysis of found DNA evidence.
That's actually occurring, thanks to an artist by the name of Heather Dewey-Hagborg. Take a look at the video below to see those works created from beginning to end.
3D printing and new manufacturing techniques have created a new tool for artists to turn their concepts into physical realities. Additive tech provides a means by which artists can express themselves. While the final product, at least the 3D printed part, may not have required the same amount of time as an object toiled over physically, is the form not the same? And yet, isn't the toil over the work still there, just in the digital modeling rather than physical?
Technology is changing what art even is
Artificial intelligence is one of those technologies that is rapidly changing everything about the world around us. It's changing how businesses are run, how we are able to communicate, and it's allowing artists to create works of art that also create, well, works of art.
Any artificial intelligence program is essentially a piece of software designed to write itself and learn over time. It can be encoded with the inherent styles of a given artist or allowed to learn through free expression.
Artists are leveraging AI to create works of sculpture, paint, digital art, and more. But AI could also disrupt the art space for the negative. What happens when you can't tell the work of AI apart from that of a human. Is the AI demonstrating artistic expression through its internal code, or is the artist's work lesser considering lines of code could produce just as good of a final product?
It's these questions that the art world is grasping with on an existential basis. Human creativity has certainly been enhanced by technology. However, what's to come as technology, or more importantly AI, continues to become more dominant in the field? It's an interesting and freeing time to be an artist... but also maybe a little bit of a scary one.