The digital revolution of the past few decades has had an incredible impact over many aspects of our lives. Whether it be an online retail transaction, or even booking a flight to an exotic location, it seems that computers are an essential part of our daily activity.
And whereas the arts are often thought of as a remote, lofty place of self-actualisation, there are many ways that artists have harnessed the power of technology to enhance their creative endeavours.
One of the most famous users of digital technology in traditional formats is David Hockney. From initial experiments in still life 'paintings' via his iPhone, the Bradford-born artist captured headlines with his colourful and vibrant evocations of the East Yorkshire landscape thanks to his manipulation of an iPad painting app.
The advent of the photographic image brought a whole new wave of innovators such as Man Ray, who used the new camera device wholeheartedly for his surrealist images. Meanwhile, recent innovations in 3D printing are creating fantastic opportunities for sculptors to create new forms.
The Israeli artist Eyal Gever uses software to create bursts of frozen motion in a bid to harness the 'beauty in catastrophe' that are then printed using 3D technology in vivid, startling shapes and colours.
New methods of manipulating visual information have also led to a boom in sites such as Instagram that offer users the chance to edit and share photographs with ease. Furthermore, every professional website will now require a sleek and modern graphical interface that aims to attract new audiences and reinforce the brand identity.
For example, the iconic Tate Modern art museum offers a website that displays information in a clean and stylish manner that befits such an institution. We can find samples in different sectors. For instance, Skype offers a good level of usability to the user, or mint.com, which offers well-guided design. Betsafe, on the other hand, is a good example of a gaming sitethat not only offers great social media accessibility, iPad and mobile support, but also has a highly original and distinctive branding through its visual merchandising.
The rise of social media has also enabled artists to use its ability to communicate ideas to large groups of people and create a 'real-life' artwork. This has been seen in the work of Spencer Tunick, who uses the internet to gather large groups of people to strip naked and be photographed in unlikely locations as a form of art 'flash-mob.'
Another renowned artist who has harnessed the potential of technology in new and surprising ways is Ai Weiwei. The Chinese dissident artist is famous for his use of social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram to spread his work and ideas. This includes his famous 'leg-gun' meme that was recreated by thousands of followers in protest of perceived heavy-handed counter-terrorism measures. If there was any doubt as to Weiwei's mindset over the powers of new technologies as a form of protest, he handily summed up his beliefs as: “Don't retreat; retweet!”