The Rise of Technology in Art – by Thomas Evans

3D Printed Art

3D printing or “additive manufacturing” technology has been in development for several decades now, but it was in the early 2000s that 3D printing exploded into the public view, with the media reporting on the technique’s potential in the fields of science, medicine, and manufacturing. In 2005, a growing trend for incorporating 3D printing into art and design was first noted, and this technology has become increasingly prevalent in art. 3D printing allows artists to create highly detailed and infinitely manipulable models, which can be presented as artworks in their own right or which can be used as scale models for a larger piece.

3D printing is used by a range of artists with a variety of unique practices, many of whom use the available technology in different ways. For example, Romanian artist Ioan Florea uses 3D printed plastic molds to produce large-scale metal models of vehicles, exploring the role of technology in our current age of customization.

Another example is Eyal Gever, an artist who creates imaginative digital environments on his computer, before translating these environments into physical space through 3D printing. Rather than using contemporary technology for its own sake, Gever claims, “I’ve simply used the latest technology to develop a new language for my art.” Today, companies like Makerbot have fully realized the impact that their tech has on the output from the creative community.


Interactive Art

Interactive art and installation art have been around since the 1950s, but recently digital developments have allowed artists to create completely immersive experiences, which the viewer can interact with on a number of levels.

One pioneer of digital installation art was Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. His 2005 piece Subtitled Public consisted of a darkened room installed with infra-red surveillance cameras. The cameras tracked visitors as they moved, and a single verb was projected onto each viewer’s torso, following them around the room. If one visitor touched another, their verbs would be exchanged, encouraging viewers to engage with each other as well as with the artwork.

Collaborative digital art group Random International is also known for its large-scale installations. For their project Rain Room, they used real-time analytics of visitors’ movements to control their immersive digital experience. Depending on how the viewer moved, they would experience a unique rain shower, complete with humidity, the sound of falling water, and the visual effect of rain; all without getting wet. Random International described it as “the latest in a series of projects that specifically explore the behavior of the viewer and viewers: pushing people outside their comfort zones, extracting their base auto-responses and playing with intuition.”

Another key example of interactive art using technology is a new trend for “digital paintings”. Artist Scott Garner creates still life images displayed in traditional-looking frames. The twist comes, however, when the viewer begins to interact with the “painting”, which is actually a screen. If the work is tilted, the objects in the still life composition will begin to tip and tumble to the edge of the frame.

Looking to the Future: What’s Next?

Technology is developing at such a pace that it can feel hard to keep up sometimes. For artists, these changes can be problematic: they need to remain up-to-date with new skills such as coding and find ways to access the latest technologies, which can be expensive.

However, developments in technology have always affected how artists produce art, and they will continue to do so in the future. With artists increasingly keen to question the effect of the digital age on our society, they will find ways to go on looking for new ways to engage in up and coming technological innovations. We look forward to seeing what’s coming next! If you are interested in taking the dive into the digital space and learning how to manipulate the technology around you, sites such as the TeamTreeHouseCode Academy and will help you along the way.