This article was written by 2018 Global Leadership Summit Journalist Intern, Demiana Rizkalla. Demiana Rizkalla is a senior in Staten Island, New York. She went on our Global Citizen Scholarship Tour, and her favorite parts were seeing the street art in Berlin and experiencing the Global Leadership Summit.
Beauty comes to us through art, a form of magic that has existed since the earliest human records and will exist as long as creatures are alive to make it. Art has evolved with each human epoch. It is influenced by the politics and cultural waves of the world. And now, in the midst of the Technological Revolution and the Age of Information, art is going through yet another evolution.
The streets of Europe are littered with ghosts of human creativity. Whether it be the Andy Warhol-esque poster displays pasted on the underbellies of Berlin train stations, or street art such as the Space Invaders series creeping along the edges of English buildings–the technological influence is everywhere. The profound technological impact on modern art can be seen in everything from TV and the internet to the seemingly simple aerosol spray trigger.
While many leap to argue that technology has disrupted the development of art, it seems that the artists themselves tend to disagree. Glen Keane, a reputable animator, and the closing keynote speaker of EF’s Global Leadership Summit in Berlin, reflected on his transition from traditional animation to CGI,
“We didn’t miss the classical renaissance, today is our renaissance…our art forms, our storms, are digital.”
He explains how technology fostered renewed ingenuity within him. It forced him to ask questions and rediscover art under a digital lens which allowed for the evolution of his artistic style. His work with Google has allowed him to use virtual reality to animate the short film “Duet,” replacing the paintbrush with code and expanding his artistic abilities. Keane also expressed his appreciation for his newfound ability to connect with a multitude of people around the world. His work with “Duet” allowed him to create a customizable experience for each viewer through the use of virtual reality. Paired with a smartphone, this technology enabled Glen to create individualized emotional connections with his art–at home. Other than being able to reach new audiences on handheld devices, and create a more personal experience, he is also able to connect with colleagues around the world for artistic collaboration. Technology’s ability to foster communication between people all over the world has allowed for the creation of a new global culture that, of course, influences modern art.
This shared culture has been brought on by modern society’s ability to connect through social media. Robert Van Der Vinne, a Dutch classical singer, explained how the internet’s communication capabilities have aided him as a musician. Berlin is known to be a musical epicenter of Europe and the internet has made this title even more fitting. Van der Vinne spoke about how technology has allowed him to coordinate events with his colleagues so that they could all meet in Berlin to work collaboratively and create new music. The communication fostered by technology resulted in the creation of new content and, in turn, the evolution of modern music. Van der Vinne also expressed his appreciation for the exposure that the internet has brought him. SoundCloud, Spotify, and YouTube have allowed these artists to reach larger populations globally without a record deal or a costly studio session. They see the internet as the lifeline of budding musicians. Social media allows for content distribution and the birth of a fan base at a lower cost to the artists than ever before. Technology has allowed for a wide variety of influences to come together to change the music industry. It has given new artists the opportunity to succeed by amplifying their voices. And these voices, although digitized, blend together to make the modern human symphony.
While most artists do agree that technology has aided in the development of their craft, Vincent Cornelissen does not. This clog maker from Zaanse Schans, Netherlands who I met while touring the Dutch countryside explains how machines have caused clog makers to lose their artistry because of their ability to support mass production. A process that used to take days of hand carving now only takes minutes. Watching the wooden shoes take form before my eyes seemed like magic to me and yet Cornelissen insisted that the magic was now lost in the gears of the machines. The attention to detail that the clogs once required is no longer necessary with carving machines. This, in Cornelissen’s opinion, has made clogs into an industrial product rather than a work of art. It did not matter that the machines provided more canvases for the shoe decorators through mass productions because half the art was in the formation of the shoe itself. Regardless of the ill effects, there is no denying that technology has revolutionized this art form just as it has revolutionized all others.
Roaming Europe and getting lost in its art felt like being caught in the gears of a whole new Industrial Revolution–one that focuses on the beauty of the sparks flying off the gears rather than the products those gears produce. Art was once something reserved for the elites of society. But now with technology, everyone has the ability to hold a masterpiece in their palms. And for that, modern society is indebted to the collections of circuits and metals that we so often demonize. While many blame modern apathy on technology, the artists revel in the ingenuity it inspires. Thanks to technology, beauty now exists within the screen of the beholder. It allows each individual to have a unique connection with the art. Technology enhances our experience with art and will continue to do so–welcome to the Technological Renaissance.