Art and technology – Art Basel Hong Kong


Art is not practical, technology is. The mix of the two – the intuitive and the practical – has been a popular topic at Art Basel Hong Kong this year.

ABHK17, Galleries, Headquarters of Sadie Coles, Jessica Hromas for Art Basel

Google Art & Culture has partnered with Art Basel to present Virtual Frontiers: Artists Experimenting with Tilt Brush. Throughout the duration of the show, show visitors can explore five new virtual reality works created by artists who first worked with Google’s Tilt Brush. A big supporter of the development of this technology is Peter Boris, Executive Vice President of the Pace Gallery.

“People don’t need to own an object, it’s the experience they get from it”

he commented.

“Artists will use technology in a different way than people in other fields.”

Of course, Google Arts & Culture weighs heavily on the discussion.

“I get excited when the people who really push technology are the artists,”

says Freya Murray, program manager and creative lead at the Google Cultural Institute Lab.

“As humans increasingly depend on technology, how does this affect our place in the world? “

Maybe the important factor is the starting point: art or technology. Murray insists that Google Labs is an enabler – an access tool – and that they are not the creators.

“We provide the tools to extend the artist’s emotional connection”,

she commented.

“It starts with what you want to express, and technology is an extension of that. It is not fair to start with technology. It is important to think about the starting point.

Peter Boris of the Pace Gallery rejects questioning the validity of digital art.

“If you paint a flower in oil and make one digitally with technology, none are real. So why reject one as not being (valid)? “

Boris commented.

“Right now, we are going into hyper speed with our evolution, because of technology. Art shows us how we feel about it.

Takashi Kudo, communications director at TeamLab, agrees:

“Matter has limits. Art made with materials to express ideas and concepts has limits. Digital is always changing and adaptive ”,

he said.

“Digital art can improve relationships between people.” TeamLab’s digital installation, Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together, debuted in New York City in 2014. The installation was designed with digital flowers that bloom on walls and floors and die with the presence – movements – of the spectators. More people showed up than expected and all the flowers died. The creators quickly understood the problem and allowed fewer people to enter the exhibition. The flowers have started to bloom again. Blurring the line between audience and object, Kudo says, “Technology and (interaction) can improve art. “

Tenderly, he remembered falling asleep on the exhibit floor after two sleepless days – in the absence of movement, all the flowers bloomed dramatically around him.

“With digital technology, we generally think, how can we use it to expand humanity? “

Kudo commented.

“But we want to expand the physical world itself. We think: How to expand the space itself? We only use it for that.

How can technology contribute to the appreciation of art? In the early 1960s, cinema struggled to be recognized as a legitimate art form. Is the art world in this state now, when it comes to digital technologies? About ten percent of global art sales are now digital. Perhaps digital technology is an extension of our thinking, a tool. Peter Boris argues that art and technology can be harmonious:

“Separation is the error – one is intuitive and emotional, the other is rational. Just like us. It is one living being within another living being.

Referring to Takashi Kudo’s TeamLab, he said:

“They’re Japanese, so they don’t have that distinction, the sense of separation that Westerners have. This is why so much art coming from Asia, Africa and places like it is like water in a desert in the art world.

This led an art dealer to raise the question of the future of the art dealer:

“How do you hold art then?” “

she asked.

“I think we will sell tickets rather than an item”

he has answered. He added:

“There will always be art dealers.

To laugh.

Flowers-and-People, -Not-Maybe-Controlled-But-Live-Together_Courtesy TeamLab
Flowers-and-People, -cannot-be-controlled-but-live-together Courtesy of TeamLab


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Gaston Lagaffe

Gaston is a Belgian writer born in 1975. He writes on various subjects, Health, Fashion, Technology, CBD and Art for various publications including Spirou. He is based in Brussels.

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