Will we bin easels for pixels?

Olivia Solon wrote a piece for Metro today entitled “Why we’ll bin easels for pixels” to highlight the rise of digital artforms as exemplified by the likes of Troika.

I’m hugely interested in digital art and the forms that it can take but the headline given to Liv’s piece got me pondering whether advances in technology will indeed see us chucking our easels in the bin in favour of online art.

The launch of Nintendo's Art Academy

The launch of Nintendo's Art Academy - Philippa Warr

Well, my easel might as well already be in the bin because it lives at my parents’ house and is perpetually covered with clothes and the majority of my creativity is channeled into online or digital pursuits (writing, photography, writing about photography…) but what of other, slightly more metaphorical, easels?

The advancement of technology has always had an impact on the art world. Stable and non-toxic pigments, paint in tubes, swifter photo development, better conservation and repair are all the result of technological progress, but now technology is no longer just a means to improve our current media, but a medium in and of itself. Another option amongst many to be chosen – or not – by the artist.

My instinct is to say that digital art will experience huge growth and maybe even come to numerically dominate collections simply because huge numbers of artworks like digital video pieces could be stored in a tiny amount of space. Traditional art won’t die out though because the experience of creating something in watercolour or stone or glitter glue is different to creating something with a digital component, both for the artist AND for the viewer.

The Starry Night Pie Packed

The Starry Night Pie Packed - Mario Klingemann

I’ve seen countless riffs on Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night using technology and each has brought something new but, crucially, it hasn’t replicated the experience of the original. There’s a value in that original experience and it’s not something that technology can replicate or render obsolete. Certainly not yet anyway.

Bottom line, the easels are safe. Even if they are marooned in someone else’s house and covered in clothes.