How Technology is Advancing the Arts

Every artist on some level understands that the actions of an artist are dictated by technology. Before Gutenberg invented the printing press, writers were far more limited in page count with wound codexes. The sound amplification technology provided by a piano allowed compositions intended for far larger audiences than a harpsichord. We focus on Kindles and digital cameras and think we’ve never seen disruptions like this to art before, but we always have and always will. Those disruptions close some doors and open others.

My hometown paper The Washington Post had an interesting special Arts section on Sunday titled “The Art of Technology.” The lead story was a rather odd essay lamenting the passing of the metronome. But the meat of the section were short news articles on how traditional artistic pursuits are being transformed by modern technology. Here are the links to the stories, and I’ll use the Post’s teaser language for each:

  • Classical Music: Imagine the music you’d get if you had a computer to play the piano. Or if you asked a city to email favorite sounds to the composer.
  • Dance: Something unexpected happens when graceful movement gets randomized. Especially live.
  • Electronic music: Those are some threads: ‘Wearable technology’ allows gestures to trigger sound.
  • Film: Director’s podcasts illustrate the new normal. Social media engages audiences.
  • Poetry: E-readers haven’t necessarily embraced the lyrical nuance of poetry. Yet.
  • Sculpture: The advent of 3-D printing could ultimately turn everyone into a designer.

On a related note, The Washington Post recently said that it is developing a business model that will require frequent readers of its online content to pay for some of that content. As a longtime veteran of both print and online journalism, I completely understand their need for that. The Post also said that it will develop a means for educators to continue to receive free access to their content. As a writing and creativity instructor, I applaud them for that.

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11 thoughts on “How Technology is Advancing the Arts

  1. Pingback: How Technology is Advancing the Arts | independent musician resources |

  2. Pingback: How Technology is Advancing the Arts | Stan Stewart's Blog

  3. Thanks, Patrick. Another great post! And I agree…

    Technology has been informing, altering and challenging art and artists throughout history. Whether directly or indirectly (e.g., ships that could discover new continents), the tech of the age impacts the way artists think and therefore how and what art is created.

    Silicon technology and the computers/internet/connected-society that derive from its products has been impacting artists for decades. And I think you’re right to note the ways that these impact not only the creative process, but the sharing and marketing of what gets created.

    Again, I thank you for keeping the conversation flowing and provoking me to ponder (again) how I interact with both technology and creativity.

    Playful blessings,
    Stan (aka @muz4now)


    1. Hi Stan! Some how I overlooked the comments on this post, a true negligence since comments are the heart and soul of this blog.

      I’m a cartography geek with a focus on the Age of Discovery period. The breakthroughs in navigation were truly stellar, and came in bursts, including the 1600’s and then again when John Harrison’s clocks allowed us to calculate longitude. Truly world-changing innovations. I love those old maps because they are a reflection of both technology and art.


  4. Yes, but. Has not the ‘art’ discussion been too long usupred by the “latest advances” in technology? I’ve got versions of some movies on celluloid, VHS, DVD, and now BlueRay. Can technology really “advance” the arts, or is it just a distraction? What about Art itself? Seth Godin recently picked up on the Art question and invited E.M. Forster to comment. And as of an hour ago, I took it a step further in my latest post “What is Art?”


    1. Thanks, PJ. As always, insightful comments. Yes, in terms of delivery of art via technology, it has been changing rapidly, giving consumers more avenues but also leaving dinosaurs behind. I managed 20 years ago to get family Super 8 home videos onto VHS, which does me no good now because I don’t have a VCR. Sometimes I think I own a movie and go to watch it and realize I owned it on VCR and no longer have it. And don’t get me started with my LPs from high school and college, which I long since parted with but now wish I still had. Ugh.


  5. Hey Patrick! LOOOOONG time. Very sorry about the lapse. I’ve been very busy with a life transition; the company I work for closing down, and me launching my own freelance writing business. ANYWAY, I read your post today and wanted to chime in.

    I’m a huge advocate for any sort of artist to embrace technology. Because now so, more than ever, it’s easier for a truly talented artist (whether visual, literary, or performing) to make their work known to the world.

    I also agree with the paywall. I know the Wall Street Journal does it, and so does the New York Times. My own local paper, The Arizona Republic, also began a paywall back in September of 2012; it kicks in after 20 free stories/month. With the change in the media business model, newspapers and magazines have to pay their journalists SOME WAY for their work, to deliver quality reporting to their readership. I’m curious to see if the paywall proves successful!


    1. Hi Shari!

      I somehow missed this comment when you first posted it. I’m well aware of the AZ Republic firewall. I used to have the AZcentral app on my phone, so I could keep up with Suns and Cardinals news (I grew up in Glendale, AZ), but can’t justify subscribing when most of the news isn’t relevant to me. That said, I support their effort to earn subscription income from their online work. It’s all reporting, and we’ve always paid for that reporting with subscriptions for the physical work. I see no reason why we shouldn’t have to pay for that same journalism when online.


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