Transforming art through digital technology

You can’t escape the fact that we live in digital world, dominated by technology. It is increasingly developing a monopoly on everything, from the way that shares are bought and sold to how music is listened to and so on.
Books, apples, chairs, high-end cuisine and football stats – anything you can conceive of has been affected by this new era. The future is here and it’s a fascinating time to be alive.
A new exhibition launching this summer at the Barbican examines and celebrates the impact of the digital revolution in the world of art and culture since the seventies. For some, that feels like only yesterday. Do the math and the present is 44 years old from 1970.
“Showcasing a new generation of artists, designers, film-makers and musicians, Digital Revolution celebrates creatives who are pushing artistic boundaries across the arts using digital media,” said Neil McConnon, head of Barbican International Enterprises and project commissioner.
“Through a series of gallery-based work and public interventions the exhibition will transform the Barbican into an animated canvas – inspiring digital natives, gamers, movie fans, retro geeks, family groups and art fans alike.”
The relationship between art and technology has always been a difficult one, at least traditionally. There is something absent about the mechanical, bright lights and electric characteristics it seems to portray and while we’re all too happy to have the latest gadgets and gizmos at our disposal, there’s a subconscious disquiet about it.
In art, the unease is in its infringement of what is natural – the activity is characterised by an intimacy of hands, be it in the way one holds a brush and applies it on a canvas to the way clay is squeezed, squashed and moulded into something beautiful.
“Fine art purists have demonstrated a wary scepticism towards the use and abuse of new technologies, and tech-heads have been staunchly resistant to art’s whimsical influence,” the curator and writer Rachel Falconer highlighted in the Guardian recently.
“But as the pressing issues of privacy and identity, addiction and dependency, and lives increasingly enmeshed in technology begin to create compelling subject matter for artists and technologists alike, art and tech are enjoying a second honeymoon.”
This breathtaking show will feature new commissions from artists like Umbrellium – Usman Haque and Nitipak ‘Dot’ Samsen – Universal Everything; the musican and tech-fan; and work by VFX Supervisor Paul Franklin, who is best known for contributing towards Chris Nolan’s vision for Inception.
Additionally, one of the leading UK media art studios Universal Everything will be developing a work for the Silk Street entrance to the Barbican and Chris Milk’s fantastic interactive work The Treachery of Sanctuary will receive its first showing in the UK.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Barbican is really going all out to present a thorough and rich exhibition that demonstrates the unique relationship that art and technology possesses, concluding that it is one that is fruitful, engaging and groundbreaking.
Digital Revolution: An immersive exhibition of art, design, film, music and videogame at the Barbican runs from July 3rd 2014 until September 14th 2014.
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