✍Aenco Academy #33: ArtTech -When Art Meets Technology
The first ever AI-generated portrait, Edmond de Belamy, the portrait of the portly Edmond Belamy, collected in the La famille de Belamy series, was unexpectedly sold for over 400 thousand USD in Christie’s auction in 2018, signifying the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) on the art world as well as the global auction stage. Created by Obvious Art, the portrait was painted by an algorithm achieved through Generative Adversarial Network (GANs), which means that the portrait is created based on the developed database of the properties of 15,000 existing portraits dating from the 14th to the 20th centuries. We are now in a whole new genre where the internet and smart gadgets are rapidly popularized in this techno-centric world. With photography in the 19th century as a distinct starting point, technologies, such as AI, 3D printing and blockchain provide myriad new ways for people to access art like never before.
The abbreviation, ‘Art-tech’, is a mixing of ‘art’ with ‘technology’. With innovative tools and medium, artists can create new artworks and design trends for the industry; business entitles can provide more transparent and efficient services so that artworks are more accessible to art lovers of the market; new art explorers can get professional information that opens up their new artistic horizons with mobile applications and online exhibition experiences. According to the 2020 publication by Statista, a German company specializing in market data, the global art market was valued at over 64 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 and around 67 billion in the previous year, while the transaction volume in 2019 was over 40 million U.S. dollars. During their survey in 2019, 65% of art collectors explained that they buy art for investment purpose. Technology has much potential in changing the art game. Art-tech companies are in one way or another revolutionising the industry by providing more innovative options and ensuring a more positive and close communicating between artists and the buyers.
Recent artworks and technology
Romanian artist and sculptor Ioan Florea has incorporated the technique of 3D-printing into his solo exhibition, Tactile Histories, in Illinois’s Surplus Gallery. His 3D-printed metallic Ford Torino 1971, created in 2013, has an undulating fluid surface with high reflectivity. It was inevitable an unprecedented attempt to revive the famous American ‘muscle car’.
Scott Garner and Jon Rafman are also leading artists who create interactive art pieces, allowing audiences to ‘play’ with their works on various levels. Garner’s Still Life (2012) feeds in real-time tilt data with a motion-sensitive frame. When visitors tilted the frame, the scene of the painting tumbles according to the physical movement of the frame.
Rafman’s Sculpture Garden (Hedge Maze) (2015), is another significant representation of the advancement of art with technology. The installation collapses our distinctions between the digital and the real, in which audiences are limited by the physical reality of the plastic hedges but at the same time transported to a 360-degree virtual space by the Oculus Rift technology. They might feel dizzy when they are experiencing the visual stimulus of being levitated by the quasi-imaginary scenes.
Art-tech start-ups, such as Sprayprinter, contribute to the art community by developing new technology. Founded in 2015, the company gained recognition by creating a wall-climbing robot, Albert, to print murals. However, art-tech is not an exception to the professional art world but is a popular trend among us nowadays. With photo editing applications, users can merge pictures together to create a hybrid, convert photos into a painting version or even edit out unwanted elements.
The art-tech companies and start-ups
In recent years, we have been witnessing the birth of numerous art-tech companies that added notable values to our art market. They make the art world more accessible to both proficient art collectors and the general public. Artnome, for example, is a blockchain-based platform that gathers public auction data and museum records to develop a huge analytical database of complete artworks of the world’s most influential artists.
Another example is Magnus. This application can provide you pricing and information on the artwork when you take a picture of it. To make sure that their information is up-to-date and fight against forgery, the application is good at using collective force, allowing users, such as artists or galleries to upload information which will then be verified by the team in Magnus.
GowithYamo is another free application that draws people closer to art. The application provides information about exhibitions near your places, including the dates, entry prices and even easy access to maps. By visiting the exhibitions, GowithYamo will award users with their virtual currency, the Yamo coin, that can be spent in their store to buy well-designed pieces, such as wall prints and tote bags.
What if technology conquers us?
It is evident that the two seeming contradicting disciplines, ‘art’ and ‘technology’ are holding hands todisrupt our knowledge-based economy. Many are still quite sceptical about the surge of electronically created art pieces or even the transformation brought by technology to the world in general. Some opted to worry that human may one day lose their unique position as art creator or the mastermind behind. It is however ensured that the involvement of technologies in every aspect of human evolution and progression is inescapable.
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