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Art and Technology

Since the turn of the century artists have incorporated machine imagery into their art. But, whether they were frightened by the threat of a dehumanized, mechanized society or pleased by the hard lines of factories and machine-made objects, they only borrowed their images and their style for use in traditional art media. In the 1960s, however, artists began to expand the boundaries of their media with the incorporation of machines and technological processes into their art. From radio broadcasts and videotape to functioning mechanical objects and digital computer imagery, the last three decades have seen the increasing use of various technologies to make art. Instead of visual or thematic inspiration for painters or sculptors technology today is used as a part of art, in the service of art, and as forms of art. But these are arts in their infancy and for every new use of technology in art a new set of questions--practical, theoretical, or aesthetic--rises around it. A review of some of the types of technology-based art, with examples of work by some prominent artists, establishes the range of difficulties that still attend the introduction of technology into art.

At the most basic level, of course, technological competence in some areas had long been taken for granted. Cindy Sherman's 1981 series of photographs, Metro Pictures, displayed the artist's understanding "that the success of a technological art, after the stage of conception, is a technical affair: realizing the idea to the practical limits of the imagination" (Schjeldahl 115). It is noteworthy, of course, that the limits of photography had not, even after more than a century, been approached. The aesthetic potential of the medium was still wide open and technical expertise such as Sherman's was the means of tapping it. There were even artists, such as Richard BaquiT who could meaningfully mock the notion of technical expertise and the importance of technologi...

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Art and Technology. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:05, November 30, 2021, from