For my first post, I’m taking a tentative step into a quite divisive subject; the increasing domination of technology in our lives, specifically in relation to the arts. The fact that you’re reading this on a computer screen might predetermine your opinion on the matter to some extent, but I’ve found through reading posts on the OCA forums and other art-related forums, that there are some sharp divisions between those who do and don’t like to use technology in their work.
In some disciplines this is quite understandable; a computer screen linked up to a graphics tablet does not provide the same level of freedom to an artist as an A3 sketchpad and an assortment of media with which to make marks; likewise, a sculpture can be quickly modeled in 3D on a computer, but that cannot replace the texture and context of a physical sculpture. It is in the arenas of photography, music and writing where I find the most divisive opinions on the matter; Andrew Watson has taken on one aspect of this in his Music article ‘From Burgess and Maclean to Elgar and Standford‘; do we lose something, both tangible and intangible, when we move from pen and paper to mouse and screen?
In the field of writing, I expect that most writers have now ditched their typewriters and taken up the word processor, but how many would be willing to entertain the idea of only being able to have their finished work read on an Amazon Kindle or Sony E-reader? Perhaps it will take a generation to get over such hurdles.
The photographers, then; surely they must be in unanimous agreement that film has had its day? Some might say yes, others would be hesitant to either agree or disagree, and a minority would smile haughtily and leave the conversation.
For the photographer and writer, there is another fight quickly approaching from the horizon; the demise of print. The ability to manage the accuracy of prints is still a valuable tool in a photographer’s arsenal, but for how long will this be the case? More and more advertisements are being displayed on paper-thin LCD screens in shop windows, how long before we see this in galleries? The fact that E-readers are bulkier than a book to carry is being countered by thin, flexible screens that open and close like a newspaper and do not produce glare. The arguments in favour of print are being systematically obliterated by technological progress.
In the case of photography, some people say that the internet together with digital technology have democratised the medium; the same could be said for writers in the sphere of Journalism that compete with bloggers for screen space. But in so doing, have we produced a richer and more honest art-culture, or have these worlds just been opened up to the pollutant of mediocrity?