26 Aug, 2020
Art and technology. Does one thing have to do with the other? What has changed in the art that involved technology? Is technology an expertise inherent to human beings? Let's find out all of this together. There are so many questions that involve the relationship of these two themes that to understand more about them we will know a little of the participation of each one of them throughout history.
Before addressing any episode related to art or technology, it is necessary to understand the concept of these two things. In the dictionary, art is the - open quotes - skill or disposition directed towards the execution of a practical or theoretical purpose, carried out in a conscious, controlled and rational way - closes quotes. The origin of the word is in the Latin word ars and it means technique or skill. We can thus say, that art is nothing more than a communicative human manifestation that is very old.
Moving from a more technical definition to a more objective and easy to understand one, art has an aesthetic character and is particularly linked to our sensations and emotions. There are several examples: painting, dance, music, literature, cinema and, although little known, architecture is also an art. In other words, architecture is the first of the seven known arts. Anyway, in short, let's say that art is a reflection of human essence.
Okay, but what about technology? Well, the first thing to talk about technology is that it has a characteristic that is also of art: technology is inherent to human beings. But why, what if only now we have cell phones, computers and electric cars? The answer to that question is simple. Technology does not only involve electronic devices, but we will see this in more depth in this text.
Art and its different expressions
Where did this human need to make art come from? When did the human being yearn to represent himself? There are several very interesting theories that address the origin of art as well as its different expressions. The fact is that this episode cannot be dated exactly, because it was probably something that happened simultaneously and in several places where the human being lived.
Due to its complexity, art has had several definitions throughout history. For example, for Greek philosopher Aristotle, art was an imitation of reality. It is clear that later on, several artistic currents refuted this simplistic definition that Aristotle gave to art. This is because these artistic currents understood that art was not limited to imitation of reality, but to creation.
During the middle ages, art was divided into two segments: manual arts, also called mechanical arts, and liberal arts, which were also defined as intellectual arts. In this division, manual arts were considered inferior to liberal arts. The intellect excels the mechanic. If we think about art today, there is more elaborate thinking about art. It turns out that manual labor is still subjugated in the face of intellectual work. As if an artisan made an art smaller than an artist, both of whom share a mental work linked to artistic creation.
Terms such as “classical art”, “popular art” or “high culture” are still very present today, which generates a great debate for art scholars. After all, it is very strange to take something so complex and limit it in boxes trying to impose a primacy of an artistic movement over the other.
To facilitate the understanding of art, we have the history of art, which is the branch that studies all the processes of art according to each context in which they happened. It is for this purpose that art was divided into periods. And what are these periods? Come on.
The first period is called Prehistoric Art which comprises the time that precedes 3000 BC. Next we have Ancient Art that goes from 3000 BC to 1000 BC. An example of Ancient Art is Egyptian art.
After Ancient Art, we have Classical Art that goes from 1000 B.C. to 300 A.D. as is the case of Greek and Roman art.
From the period from 300 A.D to 1350 we have Medieval Art such as Gothic art. Then comes Modern Art, which covers the period from 1350 to 1850, neoclassical works are good examples of this period. Finally, and not least, we have Contemporary Art from 1850 to the present day. An example of contemporary art is conceptual art.
Zooming in on our timeline map of art history, it is worth taking a detour in the 20th century, a remarkable period that brought us several artistic movements. They are Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Abstractionism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Op-art and Pop-art. A century full of great names important to the history of art. Later on, you will understand what is the relationship between these artistic movements and technology.
Understanding the concept of technology
Now that we have explained art in a certain richness of detail, it is time to better understand what technology is. As we said above, it does not refer only to digital. Ledo mistake made by many to think that only what involves electronic things is technology.
Appealing again to the dictionary, technology is the - open quotes - general theory and / or systematic study on techniques, processes, methods, means and instruments of one or more trades or domains of human activity - close quotes. Science is a clear example of technology.
The human being has always been a species that sought to adapt to the environment as well as the difficulties imposed by it. Because of this, it is possible to say that technology has existed since human beings exist. The discovery of fire is an example that shows us the beginning of a technological advance for the species.
Technology is so necessary in our lives that its evolution in just a century is so great that it frightens us the idea that a little over a hundred years ago, more than half of technological devices such as machines and gadgets did not even exist. The creative capacity we have is really fantastic.
All technology comes to solve a problem or respond to the needs we have. Agriculture stopped us from being nomadic, spices preserved our food, the mastery of electricity made countless actions possible, the telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell allowed us to communicate more broadly, the plane made us reach different places than globe, knowledge of science has allowed us to create vaccines for different pathogens and so on.
In his book “Homo Deus - A Brief History of Tomorrow”, the renowned Israeli Yuval Noah Harari explains to us that the evolution of the human species has already overcome several agendas that were previously problems on a global scale to the point that today we start thinking about projects to develop immortality. It may seem bizarre, but if you want to know the work you will better understand the points that the teacher brings.
The relationship between art and technology
After explaining the concepts of art and technology, we go to the key point of this text, which is to explain what is the relationship between these two things. First, we need to understand that the union between art and technology is something that is present in almost all existing cultures in the world. In fact, they not only come together, they mix and influence.
If both art and technology are inherent to human beings, we can say that since the earliest times they have walked together in the history of humanity, where one has benefited from the other as each of them has developed. A true coexistence relationship.
The different artistic manifestations were able to improve with the acquisition of new products and tools that provided new ways to be created artistically. Which resulted in new resources for the production of art. From cavemen who used animal blood and seeds to create their ink to virtual exhibitions, every step made by technology was captured by art and vice versa.
Nowadays it is possible to know the collection of a museum without leaving your home. Something that would never have been considered a few decades ago. Technology has made art more accessible and universal, where anyone can access it without necessarily needing financial resources.
But now thinking about digital technologies, what would become of them if, behind the function of each of these electronic devices, they did not have a thoughtful design? Technology companies understand this and do their hard work to make their products more beautiful than just functional.
Remember we talked about architecture? An architectural project does not simply involve the art of architecture itself, but also the functionality of the work. There are several monuments that are very admired precisely for being able to link the art of architecture with functionality, which we can consider here in the example as technology.
Wow! Finally, we reached the end of the text with a great deal of art and technology. Better than that, we understand how important they are to each other. So do this exercise in your daily life. Whenever you enjoy an art, try to find out what techniques are behind that work. Try to notice how technology and art get involved. You will be surprised.