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Technology
July 14, 2016

Is Technology Revolutionising The Art World?

Text by Simone Louis

We track the newest innovations that’ll add the cool quotient to your gallery visits

Glasses are cool now — didn’t you know? Google Glass, more specifically, is changing pretty much every preconceived notion we’ve ever had of the four-eyed-nerd next door. Also, newsflash: nerds are cool too, and we’re all on our way to a parallel universe where technology orchestrates everything… even art.

Just this year, a snazzy new app called Magnus created a stir as ‘the Shazam of the art world’, about the same time as the majority of common folk actually figured out what Shazam even is. Joining the ranks of other tools like ArtRank and Artsy, Magnus allows users to simply point their mobile device at any magnum opus in order to see the artist’s name, exhibition history, auction prices, gallery rates, suggestions for similar works and more pop up on the screen. In other words, gallerists and other art experts can take a hike.

Yes, the invention brings with it a new customer profile, but does one really want that on such a superficial level — looking at art merely through the lens of fiscal significance? You take a picture and, within a couple of seconds, know the resale value of the work. Think of all the newbies trying to sell Raza paintings on eBay! Valuations are amazingly nuanced, and dependant on quality, condition, age and origin­ — and demand personal engagement.

This doesn’t wholly mean that art and tech don’t make a good couple. Without the invention of portable paint tubes that enabled them to paint outdoors, impressionists would’ve been regular old weirdos staring wistfully at the world while passers-by shot them dirty looks. And think of Andy Warhol minus silkscreen printing. Technology has been endowing artists with new ways of expression for aeons. Today, artists are discovered on Instagram, their work reviewed on Twitter and predictions of the success of exhibitions are made with the help of high-resolution photographs emailed and viewed on tabs.

Art is becoming less static, morphing into new avatars from 3D-printed effigies to live painting. The rules of the game are changing, too. Speaking of 3D, our good friend Google Glass is beginning to allow audiences to enter the fourth dimension in some exhibitions which involve text and visuals hovering in front of the user’s eyes, sometimes allowing them to issue voice commands. I can feel the motor-skills-challenged people cringe as they read this — you definitely do not want them around expensive artworks wearing spectacles that create any sort of projections! On the other hand, imagine all the people around the world who’ve been dragged against their will to an art showing. “Excuse me sir, are you alright? Your eyes are glazing over.” “Shh, I’m playing Dota on Google Glass. Don’t tell my wife!”

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