Arts and Entertainment

Art’s Accessibility is Technically Amazing

Art is an enriching experience, but what has technology done to change our views and use of it?

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By Maryann Foley

With the click of a button, centuries of art from around the world can be viewed, giving larger demographics of people a stronger foundation and much more widespread accessibility to the arts. Many people gain greater knowledge about art’s roots and the contextualization of cultural movements in history. Technology has also enabled art to take different forms, as new art forms like cinema, digital media, and music/video production emerge as dominant forces in the cultural sphere of society. These new mediums have revolutionized the subject matter presented in art, allowing new artists to come to light and exposing audiences to the harsh realities of society. But traditional art isn’t going anywhere; in fact, technology has helped the diffusion of traditional art as a cultural force in our lives.

Revolutionizing Accessibility

With the establishment of many artistic communities on major social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, the diffusion of art has become a widespread cultural phenomenon. More people from a variety of backgrounds are being exposed to the expressive beauty of art in and of itself, and learning how to create art is as easy as ever, with it no longer being limited to wealthy or upper-middle class families who can afford to send their children to private classes with a professional. By simply going online and searching up “how to draw,” endless tutorials appear, each with step-by-step walkthroughs on how to create anything from a clay sculpture to a watercolor painting.

Sites like Tumblr have a different role—to garner appreciation for artistic works. The social media platform has been credited with creating a greater appreciation for modernist art, as well as aesthetically pleasing visuals. Equally important, artists of all styles have a common, creative platform to share animations, fanart, comics, and so much more.

It isn’t just the internet that has brought us more accessibility in the arts. The New York City Department of Education and other school systems have been working to give all students a stronger artistic education starting from elementary school. It’s a welcome change in a system that has traditionally only focused on a STEM-related curriculum. Stuyvesant’s own Art Appreciation and AP Art History courses encourage students to explore the world through the lens of art, where they are exposed to profound, controversial, and impactful pieces. The incorporation of SMART boards in classrooms also allows teachers to show the minute details of pieces that would otherwise be unknown to students who aren’t able to physically see a work of art. Art courses like these focus less on the process of creating art and more on observation as teachers immerse students in a wide range of cultures, artistic eras, and rich histories.

Modernizing Art

With the increasingly advanced technologies that are at our disposal and the ease at which artists can explore new art forms, the creative art process has changed dramatically. Artistic movements like the pop art of the 1960s were an experimentation with silk screening and the art reproduction process. Though the technique of silk screening had already been long known, the more efficient printing processes made the procedure quicker and easier to experiment with, allowing artists to focus instead on personal style and the use of color.

In recent years, technology has made it possible to expand art into seemingly impossible realms like virtual reality. Users with the right tools can delve into incredible experiences, such as performing surgery, killing zombies, or being a part of the bridge crew in “Star Trek: Enterprise.”

Technology hasn’t just helped with art and video games, though. The development of computer-generated imagery (CGI) makes modern cinematic universes more expansive and believable. Franchises like Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe utilize a variety of practical and virtually-produced special effects to achieve their famous fight scenes and show off their vast new worlds.

Give a Good, Hard Look

In conjunction with technology, there are numerous artists who embrace nontraditional mediums in creating art that strives to bring an important issue to light, rather than to entertain. In his documentary “Human Flow,” Ai Weiwei utilizes the camera to expose viewers to the devastation of the global refugee crisis beyond what the news says. Known as the greatest displacement since World War II, the refugee crisis is brought to the forefront by Weiwei’s examination of a series of human stories that affect everyone, not just those escaping from war and famine. Weiwei has also created several other works, such as “Snake Bag,” a serpent-shaped installation made of 360 backpacks that belonged to children who died in the 2008 earthquake of Sichuan, a southwestern province in China. The snake, a creature of evil in most cultures, symbolizes the local corruption that led to poor building codes, and ultimately, the death of several hundred children.

In addition to Weiwei’s art, Humans of New York, a photoblog by Brandon Stanton, captures the personalities of the inhabitants living in the city that never sleeps. Stanton’s vast collection of photographs attempts to make the move towards exposing rough-edged urban life with brutally honest, sometimes even comical, captions that allow the audience to intimately experience the rich stories of the population in our urban megapolis.

Nope, Traditional Art Isn’t Going Anywhere

Although it’s true you can view paintings online instantly, that can never supplement the unique feeling of being in the same physical space as a piece of art. This can be said with the Impressionist painting “Sunrise” by Claude Monet. Though Monet and his famous piece have been discussed constantly throughout the years, hearing about it and viewing it on Google Images can’t beat seeing it with your own eyes. At the Musée Marmottan Monet, visitors flock to the gallery room to try to grab a picture with the painting, and the vivid dashes of colors and texture of the painting are incomparable to what is viewed on a flat board in an art history class.

Even with our many artistic achievements, art still remains in the background. It’s as accessible as ever, but many people are unaware of this or choose not to care about it. In Stuyvesant specifically, there are many students who fail to appreciate art, either because they find it difficult to be open-minded towards it or don’t see how it is important to their life. Art, however, has never failed to connect people. It contains a plethora of information about life itself, which cannot be found in many academic subjects. This makes it all the more important to know why art is, and should continue to be, accessible. Thanks to technology, art has grown to connect and reach a wide demographic of people, allowing the art scene to reach incredible new heights.