The advent of app-tastic art and design
The future has always remained unclear. We are forever in the hands of fate, but the future of art now seems to be in the hands of technology. PCs may have Paint but recent developments of hologram art, as well as iPad and iPhone applications that actually give you the tools to make paintings without a canvas, have brought art to a whole new level.
So far we have only lived our lives through technology. Many of us would be lost without our smartphones, a device that allows us to work on our essays on the go, listen to music, Skype, take pictures and more. Mixing art with that technology could mean many things.
Art could be bought and exchange like books on an Amazon Kindle, it could be portable 3D and even more easily replicated. With art now beginning to become deep-rooted in technology, the use of other mediums could be irrelevant. Where are we taking art with these new found developments?
A far cry from the holograms of Star Wars and the paintings of Picasso, it is a whole new world to be discovered.
A new medium
At his recent Paris exhibition, David Hockney presented a series of drawings. Nothing remarkable about that, until you learn he’d created them without pen, paper or paint; Hockney had simply drawn them on his iPad. Rather then framed pictures on the walls of the Fondation Pierre Bergé, visitors were treated to several A4-sized tablet screens displaying his works, entitled Fleurs Fraiches. Hockney also presented his drawings on the Apple iPhone and as digital projections. It was the first time such consumer technology has been used to create work by a major artist.
The tablet computer known as the iPad is Apple’s most recent technological innovation, launching in April this year. The key to the iPad and iPhone’s creative potential is their use of applications created by third parties. Hockney uses the drawing app ‘Brushes’, created by Steve Sprang, and draws on to the screen using his fingers. Hockney’s become so accustomed to the method he’s had a suit tailor-made with extra large pockets to accommodate his iPad, and told the BBC at the exhibition: “Sometimes I get so carried away, I wipe my fingers at the end thinking I’ve got paint on them.”
The end for canvas and paint?
Earlier this year, the Tate Britain also featured the iPad in an exhibition, this time using the accessibility and interactivity of the tablet to invite visitors to create their own work.
The BP Saturdays: Loud Tate annual event is run by 15-25 year olds, and this year featured a room dotted with iPads displaying the
‘Melodala’ drawing app, complete for visitors to use as an outlet for their thoughts following the exhibition. The developer of the app, Mark Miller, said: “The iPad has now become a valid tool for artists and it is great that Tate Britain is recognising that.”
So, is this the future for art? Are paints, brushes and canvases to be replaced in favour of clean, instantaneous digital images created using consumer technology? Since the launch of the iPhone in 2008, the Apple devices have already become known as an artistic discipline, in the form of iPhoneography. Exhibitions including a mixture of photographs taken and edited using the iPhone and drawings created on the iPad and iPhone have popped up all over the world.
Spain’s La Panera Art Center in Lleida featured such an exhibition this autumn, and the blurb accompanying the show explained: “Social networks and/or photoblogs have turned [these devices] into an everyday tool of creation. iPhoneography is an ever-growing global movement, fed by the constantly impressive production of its members, who have already opened the door of art journals and galleries.”
Even Apple themselves have become involved with this emergent art form, commissioning an iPhoneography exhibition at the San Francisco Apple store in September.
Works by members of ‘Pixels’, an online collective for artists calling themselves ‘iPhoneographers’ were exhibited, and echoed with another iPhoneography event at the New York City Apple store in late October.
‘Making future magic’
Central Saint Martins (CSM) alumnus Jack Schulze, who graduated with a BA in Graphic Design in 2000, has helped to create ‘lightpainting’ using the iPad in conjunction with creative communications agency Dentsu London. “We developed a specific photographic technique, recording an iPad moving through space and extruding shapes which are captured using long-exposure photography. Each image is a single frame of a 3D animation, and each long-exposure photograph is compiled together in a film, to create stop-motion animation.”
The strangely hovering ‘lightpaintings’ space, as Schulze calls them, are eerily futuristic. The title of his brief was “making future magic”, and the intriguing images turn every space they inhabit into a screen. Schulze’s innovative technique could be the beginning of similar new practices using these versatile Apple machines.
Unlike traditional mediums like paint, they’re not messy, and they require no materials or work space. You can go back a step; in the past you could ruin a perfect drawing with an accidental flick of the wrist, but now you simply press ‘undo’. iPads and iPhones arguably can’t recreate the intricacy and artistic scope offered by pen and paper, but that could change as the technology develops.
One day all great works could be admired on a screen rather than on canvas, our great galleries converted and compressed into instant, digital spaces. As iPhoneography gathers momentum, we might be witnessing the beginnings of a new artistic age.