'THE AUSTRALIAN ART CURATOR BLOG' - THE UNRIVALLED EXPERIENCE OF DIGITAL ART

At this point, the digital age is unavoidable. Unless you choose to live out your days in total wilderness immersion sans GPS, chances are you probably use some digital technology in your everyday.

The art world has not been left behind; completely embracing the evolution of these technologies to the point where much of  contemporary art could, in some way, be considered under the umbrella of digital art.

Oil paintings shown on Instagram, superimposing photoshop images for more accurate murals, sculptures that utilise 3D printing, getting Pinterest inspiration … endless options. With art these days, it's highly likely that at some point in the planning, production and presentation a digital technology often plays an essential role.

This leaves an overwhelmingly large platform for digital art; a medium with an intrinsic ability to be cross medium and disciplinary. I think this cross disciplinary aspect is the most exciting aspect for everyone involved; collaboration can create unrivalled aesthetic experiences.

The boom of digital art from the 1990s to now has a lot to do with the accessibility of high-quality hardware and software. The ability of artists to use off-the-shelf products has broadened the possibilities of individuals. Multi-disciplined work that makes use of artistic expertise has led to fascinating designs.

But what about the rules that apply to traditional art - its collectability and display approach? Art institutions are only just beginning to have the capabilities to display and then sell digital works.

For this reason, it is not always economically viable for all artists to work solo. Working with other artists and creative thinkers therefore becomes very appealing, with creative collaboration spaces popping up all over the world.

 CREDIT:  Transcending Boundaries , PACE London

CREDIT: Transcending Boundaries, PACE London

A fantastic example of collaborative digital art is the work of TeamLab; a collective of artists, programmers, animators, architects, engineers and much more whose members create large-scale immersive works, which are often interactive and not limited to traditional gallery space.

The exhibition Transcending Boundaries, held at PACE London early this year, created a beautifully delicate waterfall that responded to its audience by when the ‘water’ flowed around their feet. This meant that the elements - water, flowers and butterflies - continually evolved, never repeating a movement.

Watch - it is a complete immersion.

It’s not just with the typical creative crowd, either. Data visualisation has become a hot topic with artists working with analysts, mathematicians and scientists to present information dynamically. This is easily some of the most accessible art as you won’t need a degree to understand what is being portrayed in the presentation.

EXIT 2008-2015 is an exhibition that has been developed over seven years to show the flows of immigration, refugees, economics and the changes in native lands across the globe. It just finished up a showing at the University of Melbourne, and was a spectacular experience that tries to grow global citizen awareness.

Public engagement is a significant focus for digital artists and by placing their work in the public arena, thousands can interact with the production. Sydney’s Vivid shows just how expansive an outdoor digital exhibition can be.

Although, more subtle works can be intriguing and come in many forms. Public works are not only in an outdoor space but can also be a website or interactive app. SBS has created My Grandmother's Lingo as an interactive game animation to teach Indigenous Australian languages that are in danger of being forgotten. Combining audience participation with data visualisation and beautiful animations this work is well worth the 10-minutes click through.

Darling Harbour has seen many art installations, and a current presentation using a series of LED screens on the ICC has aroused significant attention. The audio-visual presentation scans the universe labelling the stars and progressing through the sky. The screen is a permanent part of the building, so will be an exciting space to watch if it is used in any new projects!

Digital technology has opened up so many avenues for artists and professionals of numerous disciplines. For audiences like us, it can be surprising how art forms that extended well past the boundaries of what was previously possible.

Of course, what I have mentioned here is a very brief introduction to digital art. Keep an eye open - online and around you!  With so much technology around us you never know what exciting digital collaboration is around the corner.

December, 2018: A few more words on digital art …

It’s been 18 months since I typed the above words: ‘you never know what exciting digital collaboration is around the corner’. In that vein, I’d like to add a few notes on more recent - very exciting - experiments in the world of digital art. Namely, augmented reality: a practice where computer-generated images are imposed onto our vision of the real world.

The current darling of the tech world is being imagined as being able to fix just about everything: mapping, entertainment, gaming …. But what Art Pharmacy Consulting are interested in is the art side of things  (of course). Already, across the world, artists are getting experimental with this form that is speedily growing in popularity.

There’s AR artist residencies, such as the one Adobe hosted in August, where 15 artists took part in the San Francisco-based Festival of Impossible, sponsored by Adobe.

While there were a whole host of works (such as works that used AR to query the subjectivity of human perception, or one which created mind maps of different levels of consciousness) what joined them together was the way they rejected the relative stacicity of ‘traditional’ art, and instead aimed for true interactivity.

On the other US coast, this year media reported that cultural giants such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art was “under siege” by groups of artists, who (unauthorised) use augmented reality to project digital art onto art in galleries. According to WIRED, as of April their exploits in the a room full of Jackson Pollock’s has included “remix(ing) beyond recognition or entirely replac(ing)” the paintings.

  MOMAR’s  site is peak nineties

MOMAR’s site is peak nineties

MoMAR (whose fantastic webpage is reminiscent of early-days internet, replete with dancing Spiderman animations, aggrandising words of democracy and sharing of codes) says that in doing so, they aim to democratize “physical exhibition spaces, museums, and the curation of art within them”.

AR is also creating amazing opportunities for savvy street artists (hello Culture Scouts, get on this!). Creatives in Miami, Florida are bringing static street mural to life. In one case, a work by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Valle - a giant mural of a rainbow faced Salvador Dali - comes to life with AR.

On lifting your phone, viewers see a giant butterfly land on the cheek of the surrealist, which causes his expression to become extremely excited This unusual style has been cheekily dubbed ARt. I love it.

Although there’s been some stirrings of AR related art in Australia, I can’t wait to see what comes next.