The digital age has changed the way people create and share art. I began thinking a lot about art in the digital age after a recent trip to the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. I (and I think most others) think of museums as being very physical spaces. You go to an art museum to have that connection with a piece of art that you cannot get from looking at it on your computer screen.
Seeing Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” in the flesh after seeing pictures of it your whole life is an oddly surreal experience. And while I would obviously recommend to anyone going to a physical museum and enjoying the art within it, would I say that this is the best way to appreciate art?
Oddly, no. I don’t think so. I think the best way to appreciate art is be a part of it. People love art so much because it evokes some kind of emotion from them. The artist is able to bring people together in experiencing these shared reactions. The digital age has allowed us to come together more than ever.
Take The Art Assignment for example. The Art Assignment is video series on Youtube produced by PBS Digigtal studios that encourages people to take part in a new creative “assignment” each week. PBS takes the videos submitted by these people, edits them together, and then uploads it to their channel. Here’s an example of the “Walk on It” assignment:
I think that the true beauty in these art projects is not the physical art that is created, but rather the spirit of collaboration and togetherness. The digital age has at the very least provided the necessary infrastructure for doing this. But more importantly, it has fostered a new culture that emphasizes sharing and communication—social media being the most obvious evidence of this. It’s no longer necessary to be in the physical presence of someone to connect with them, and its no longer necessary to be in the physical presence of art work in order to experience an emotional connection.