Technology blows my mind sometimes. I read somewhere the other day that in just a matter of ten years--between the year 2000 to 2010--the number of internet users increased from three hundred sixty-one million to a total of two BILLION users worldwide. I was shocked, but I concluded that these numbers did make logical sense. Why wouldn’t you want to become an internet user when literally any form of information can be achieved in just a matter of seconds right in the comfort of your home? Have a cold and can’t figure out whether it is severe enough to pay a visit to your doctor? Google your symptoms and get a good idea of what you might have. Had a long day at work and don’t have the least bit of energy to put together a sandwich? Doordash a 5-star meal right to your doorstep. Miss a family member that lives in another country? Facetime.
As a 2001 baby, I am aware that technology has influenced how I go about my day-to-day life and how it has made my reality just about a hundred times easier than what it must have been for my parents and grandparents. I caught myself going deep into thought about this the other day. When I did, you best believe that my interest in art led me to ponder over all of the ways technology has influenced the world that I like to live in; the art world. For a long time, I debated whether that impact has acted as a good or bad one which reminded me of the time I walked into my art class on a random Tuesday just to see about a third of my class doodling on iPads. What in the world?! I thought to myself.
To be quite honest with you, I wasn’t too fond of the idea of using one myself. How could you possibly get a stroke as beautiful as that of a brush against a canvas with a plastic pen and a screen? What would be the fun of selecting a color on a toolbar rather than squeezing pigments fresh out of a tube onto a palette? How could someone that calls themselves an artist choose to actively participate in the boycott of contemporary art ways and the human touch?! From these thoughts, I immediately made a pact with myself--that I would never have to do or become affiliated with any part of it. Count me out! Next thing you know it was a couple of months later and there I was in the same classroom, bright-eyed and fascinated looking down at one of the iPad screens, calling my teacher over constantly so that he could teach me every way to go about the program installed on it.
It’s true, being engaged on a screen to create art is rather unusual. At the start, it almost feels like all of the fun has been sucked out of it. All of the creative freedom and the maneuvering of the artistic process out the window. Using this device meant that I could no longer work from my mistakes or problem solve, canceling out every possibility of reaching an unexpected turn, which oftentimes made my painting even better than what I had anticipated at the start. I was worried that artworks created by an iPad would become repetitive and quite frankly, boring. Whoever chose to be a part of this form of art, I thought, wasn’t truly an authentic artist.
. On the other hand, I realized that it opened up a brand new can of opportunities, a whole different kind of opportunity. One day, my dad brought home a VR (Virtual Reality) set from work and called me over to try the art-making game on it. I kid you not when I say I must’ve been doodling on it for two hours straight. At that moment, I was on a whole different planet, one I never wanted to leave. When my dad asked me what I had thought, I told him that I would be lying if I said that I didn’t think it was a cool approach.
At the end of the day, this comparison between hands-on art or traditional art to the contemporary ways of doodling on an iPad is a lot like what happened between Theatre acting and modern-day Hollywood and Television. When talking with a broadway director, he might tell you that an actor is not a true actor if he has never performed in a Theatre. He might say that Theatrical acting is “the real thing.” But there are others that are in total disagreement and think of Hollywood and television as a modernized extension to it. Ultimately, the world is a place that is constantly advancing, quite rapidly too. It always has and it always will. This is because we humans are so curious about finding what more there could be out there, what boundaries could still be broken. This is why we have encountered this place in art where we are beginning to step away from the hands-on materials and moved onto an iPad. If we have the technology accessible to us that will allow us to do it, why can’t both be in the picture and iPads act as yet another form of media? These are the reasons I tell myself to open up my mind a bit. Because right when I did, I realized I did enjoy the process despite the fact that I had hated it so much at the start. At the end of the day, I found myself at a place far from what I had anticipated.