Accessing art online is now only a Facebook page away.

The pursuit of creative expression has never been more immediate, be it with your pictures on Instagram or short films on youtube. All kinds of creative can be published from increasingly ubiquitous mobile devices on platforms allowing near instant feedback. It does not make all instagrammers’ artists but it does contribute to a changing sense of identity and aesthetic.    

Technology is being put to good use by those committed to traditional art practices, methodologies and materials too. It enables artists to pursue their passion more sustainably, to find their niche and build their audience, to seek and benefit from new business models so that they can work at the thing they love with the return they need.   

This evolving landscape, its mix of mature and new is also supporting new forms of creativity.  It is a time for exploration of the mutually productive interaction of technology and the arts. A time to enable artists, musicians, scientists, engineers, programmers, who are creators of all kinds, and everyone in between, to collaborate.   

When they work together, boundaries are pushed, manifesting all manner of inspiring works. Augmented and virtual reality creations or haptic installations take shape. Access to data, information from social network feeds, or live crowds in a space, can manipulate art in real time. Generative art based on particle motion or video being manipulated by algorithmic events contribute to new and moving expressions.  

Basestation resident Scott Brown, artist and organiser of the Art of Technology exhibition opening in Tauranga in October, sums it up beautifully; “If you look at technology as a creative tool and you are able to embrace it, you find it is simply a new way to create original experiences”.   

For Scott, Art is his ultimate expression. He has always loved being involved in visual arts and music in one form or another, most recently exploring audio/visual projection art and experimental sound design. Technology has allowed him to merge many of his pursuits together to find new ways and means to communicate a point of view. He says, “it’s the first time, for a long time, I have felt like I’m getting out of my depth and I’m finding new ideas. This is the space in which all Artists reside as much as possible – a place where you push boundaries. By looking at technology as a creative tool and embracing it, I’ve found new ways to create an original articulation of my ideas and possibilities”.  

Scott envisions an exciting future where arts interact with technology and create new value. “We are currently at an amazing point in history where creativity and technology are being fuzed to create entirely new artforms. People are walking around with amazing little super computers in their pockets which can be used to create, and they can share the result with people all around the world instantly. As people embrace this technology and begin to explore, and push it to its limits, they get excited and want to enable everyone to share the journey with them. This is where so many opportunities arise for new developments in hardware, software, expression, insight, and value creation.”   

Like Scott these artie-techy people, the new ‘art-repreneurs’, many of them resident in the Bay of Plenty, and a good number at Basestation the communications and technology space in Tauranga ask; how do I bring this concept into the real world as a physical experience? How do I share this experience with everyone? How can we create a service or product so that we can enable people to use these combinations to reach their own, full, creative potential?   “Technology has enabled artists to write entire albums, express themselves, in their bedroom without the need for expensive recording studios, and distribute them and create value without an intermediary – a record label ” says Scott. “There are even artists who have released ‘sound-less’ albums, where their music has been released to fans to record their own versions of the score and post them online as part of a totally crowd-sourced creative musical project. In terms of where all this is going I think we’ll continue to see the gap closing between a creative concept and a finished product. That brings incredible scope for Massive Artistic Real Time collaborations (MARCs) between people all around the world.”   

This highlights yet another and exciting aspect of technology based art. It takes away the separation between the observer and the art it self. People can move from spectator status to being an actor or artist themselves if they choose. Observers can become part of the creative process and help shape it in their own unique way. Sometimes the creation only exists for that moment of interaction when you walk up to a screen or move your hands in a space and your gestures can manipulate sound and visuals. This level of human/machine interaction has changed the way people think about all kinds of experiences and is already sparking the development of new enterprises – solution providers – designing and installing “smart spaces” using emerging technologies to engage people and tell stories.  

Pascale Hyboud-Peron, co-founder of Venture Centre would love to find the magic wand which, once waved, would allow local youth to freely and fearlessly explore the potential of technology and art.   

“Using technology creatively, thinking big and differently, pursuing bold ideas, expressing their fresh views and doing so individually or collaboratively could unleash incredible creative potential," she says. "Our young people have imaginations which deserve to run riot, unfettered, at the edge of this new art meets technology frontier. There are unimaginable opportunities for them in this exciting era, not least of them, to consider art, for arts sake, as a legitimate career.”  

Maybe the greatest value delivered by making space for art is its ability to bring all sorts of people together for a common purpose, to express or receive an idea, regardless of background or social status. It captures the essence of people and gives insight to others about who we really are. “I strongly believe that Art has always been the sign of a healthy society,” says Pascale, “and in this sense I feel we should embrace Art in all it’s forms and make it as inclusive and accessible as possible.” Scott and the team of artie-techies involved in the Art of Technology event, along with those techies-interested-in-creating-art who are resident at Basestation coworking space are taking a keen interest in the early stages of an Arts Strategy for our region spearheaded by Creative BOP, and independent projects like the first community makerspace for this very reason. "Providing a community facility for locals to make technology based art together by bringing the ‘maker-movement’, a world-wide phenomenon, to Tauranga will strengthen, and provide a platform for our community to express itself, and explore", he says. Pascale adds "and maybe make a discovery that starts a whole new movement, industry or way of communicating."  

Pascale provides the final word saying, “it’s incredibly validating and humbling that there are so many wanting to be part of shaping the makerspace at Basestation, exploring together and being inspired by its open nature. This truly is a community filled with possiblity, we enjoy being part of the proactive and important work creative BOP is undertaking and look forward to making space for art and technology and all the different kinds of people that create both to come together.”


So what now? You can:

  • provide feedback on the draft Arts and Culture Strategy here
  • come and meet more techie artie creatives by popping in at Basestation
  • contact Venture Centre with your ideas how a Arts and Culture Strategy can work together with a Digital Enablement Project


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