Technology and The Arts: Friends or Enemies?

Not surprisingly, arts education is changing in the midst of today’s technology. This blog post in the Chronicle of Higher Education makes the pros and cons of these technologies very clear. With wide varieties of affordable artistic software, equipment, and even youtube tutorials, anyone can be an artist today. This is what the blogger, Sean T. Buffington, calls a “radical democratization of artistic expression”. Not only can art be created easily, but it can also be distributed widely on the internet for almost no cost. It stimulates more of an interest in the arts because these vehicles make them accessible.

Many argue that technology diminishes the quality of existing art. People who devote their lives to the art and development of photography are suddenly drowning in a world of instagrammers who can filter and edit their pictures on their phones. Conservatory-trained musicians are competing for fame and air time against young DJs who can create music easily and effectively with affordable Ableton software. Despite these arguments, I don’t think that art is at all affected or brought down by these technologies. In fact, I agree with Buffington’s radical democratization argument: it only makes art easier for the masses. These technologies serve as a vehicle for self-expression for everyone. The people who aspire to be Ansel Adams will continue to develop and perfect the art of photography without their iPhones, and the people who wish to master an instrument will continue to do so without the help of software. Perhaps these professional artists will integrate the technology into their art for their benefit—I know this is already being done.

This notion of “Art for All” will only put the fine arts into the spotlight, not in the shadows. Perhaps if art continues to be easy for the public to make themselves, it will grow in importance within our government. We worry about the fine arts diminishing in importance in our society, with program cuts and all, but if everyone can be a DIY artist, perhaps a new empathy can be gained for professional artists everywhere.