The ongoing digital transformation is really showing in all aspects of our lives, and so digital technology is also increasingly finding its way into the cultural world and museum industry. In a new series of blogposts, we’re looking into the growing trend of digital arts and artainment. Starting with the obvious question: “What is digital art?”.
Digital technology as a means of presentation
A first definition of digital arts focusses on the use of digital technologies as a way of presenting/visualizing art. The most straightforward example being displays and (interactive) videowalls. But it also includes the use of digital projectors, holography, VR technology, etc.
It means that any famous artwork can become a digital artwork. The iconic pieces are first digitized and then brought back to life using one of the above-mentioned visualization technologies. Think for example, a projection of the Mona Lisa smiling mysteriously on a museum wall in New York. Or a touch display that allows you to zoom in on a particular scene of Bruegel’s famous chaotic winter landscapes.
Such digital exhibits are becoming increasingly popular in museums and art institutions. It increases the world-wide accessibility of those iconic works, and it’s a way of keeping up with this digital age and delivering new experiences to a more tech-savvy audience. But more about the ‘why’ of digital-powered art exhibitions in our next blog.
Bassins de Lumières
Founded in Paris, France, in 1990, Culturespaces is the largest private organization managing public French museums and one of the key players in Europe’s cultural landscape. What makes the Culturespaces art experiences so distinctive is the adaptive re-use of old public spaces and the transformation of these infrastructures into innovative giant video canvasses.
In 2016 the French cultural organization communicated on its first agreement with Barco on the supply of 170 video projectors to enable immersive multimedia experiences at Carrières des Lumières museum in Les Baux-de-Provence, and Atelier des Lumières in Paris. And last year, they opened a new exposition, called Bassins de Lumières, in Bordeaux, France. The digital art museum rotates exhibits on classic painters. The works are being brought to life by more than 100 projectors as a visually astounding spectacle, and audio tracks from classical musicians accompany the sensory-immersive experience.
For all the details on the Culturespaces projects, check this Barco webinar.
Digital technology as a means of creation
Another interpretation of digital arts, talks about the use of digital technology to create art. It comes in many forms and is certainly not new. Remember your tryouts in Microsoft Paint during your first computer classes in the 1990s? Those can be considered digital art. Going back to the mid-80s, when Andy Warhol, an enthusiast aficionado of the capabilities of the new multimedia, created a series of digital artworks.
Computers and technology are playing an increasingly significant role in our creative activities. And as technology evolves, its uses to create art grow with it. It goes from digital photography, to illustrations produced on tablets with drawing software, to images made or generated by an autonomous system based on algorithms. Technology can even be a creative entity in its own, a subfield of artificial intelligence which is called computational creativity. So rather than seeing digital technology as a mere tool to create art, it can even become a collaborator to co-create a work of art together…
In 2017, noticing a lack of resources available to artists who are using new technologies to create, co-founders Tatiana Pastukhova and Sandro Kereselidze debuted ARTECHOUSE. This first-of-its-kind innovative art space, with permanent locations in DC, Miami, and NYC, is home to 21st-century artists who work with innovative technology and new forms of creative expression.
One of those artists they like to work with is Refik Anadol. This media artist loves to experiment with large-scale installations of light and projection, but also uses artificial intelligence as an artistic tool. He’s well known for working with data visualization and creating data-driven work. In his 2019 work “Machine Hallucination”, for instance, you’ll see a 30-min video of an AI machine that processes millions of architectural images of the iconic New York City skyline and visualizations of the open source data about this city.
Simply put, digital art is a term used to describe either an artistic work that’s presented using digital technology, or a work that uses digital technology as part of the creative process. In both cases, it challenges the way we think about art and creativity. The fusion of technology and art is a new trend in the cultural field. A trend that makes us extremely enthusiastic for the spectacular results and new experiences it’ll bring to museums.
Interested to see what Barco’s technology portfolio can bring to your art museum experience? Check our museum page or just reach out.