DCCA on the intersection of art, design and technology - Technical.ly Delaware

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Jun. 7, 2017 12:49 pm

DCCA on the intersection of art, design and technology

Where the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts sees itself in the Internet age.

Inside the Delaware Contemporary.

(Courtesy photo)

The gap between fine art and technology has been closing at a rapid pace over the last couple of decades, and the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts has made innovation part of its mission since 1979.

So how do tech and art intersect?

“Technology has gotten us so far, and we have so much farther to go, but it will never replace the museum, the library, the park,” DCCA Curatorial Assistant Morgan Hamilton said in an interview with Technical.ly. “Instead, technology will augment the experience a viewer has with the artist by connecting them in a new, intangible way.”

Read on for a full transcript of our conversation, which has been lightly edited for clarity.

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Technical.ly Delaware: I love DCCA’s description as “a dynamic gathering place for the exploration of new ideas at the intersection of art, design, and technology.” Can you elaborate on that?

Morgan Hamilton: I always knew that our mission statement spoke about the intersection of art, design, and technology, but it never really sank in until the head of security, Antonio Calzada-Charma, pointed out to me that the architect of the building created a nexus in the atrium of the museum to represent that idea. The steel I-beams of the structure intersect a wall high above the visitor’s head; this over-arching symbolism seems to inspire as well as protect.

"Scientists, Mathematicians and Engineers may have built society, but artists, musicians and poets have defined it."
Morgan Hamilton, DCCA

The museum strives to promote those aspects in every department. Meagan Mika coordinates events like the Make{r}evolution and Comic Con to engage an audience that may not necessarily consider themselves artists. Director of Education Jen Polillo teaches technology in the classroom with 3D printers and related engaging lessons. The Director of Retail Courtney Widdoes organizes artists for the Winter and Spring Craft Shows which attracts craft artists and shoppers to the museum to participate in the broader conversation.

The Delaware Contemporary houses studio artists in the museum, which creates a concise and vibrant community of working artists who get involved with the museum’s events and exhibitions. There is an ever-changing atmosphere of contemporary ideas and voices that make the Delaware Contemporary a living, breathing space for art.

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TD: How much of an impact does today’s technology have on the art world?

MH: From a curator’s point of view, technology is an important way to disseminate and present information. A projector can add visual impact to a video show, monitors are becoming less expensive and can populate a whole gallery, the Internet alone has opened the world to our museum, and in turn has opened our museum to the world.

The Internet at times challenges the relevance of galleries and museums when you can Google any artist throughout time, so it is the responsibility of the museum to stay relevant, to offer something Google can’t. I believe that something is experiential programming, which includes gallery tours, artist talks, hands-on learning and public interaction among the artwork. It’s one thing to see a painting or photograph on your computer screen, it is wholly another to walk amongst them in a gallery, to hear the echoes of whispered conversations, to feel the walls and sculptures around you, the smell the materials the artists used. Technology has gotten us so far, and we have so much farther to go, but it will never replace the museum, the library, the park. Instead, technology will augment the experience a viewer has with the artist by connecting them in a new, intangible way.

TD: How have attitudes changed regarding using technology as a fine art medium? I know as a Tyler art student in the early ’90s, fine artists were not at all encouraged to learn how to use computers or even digital photography, something I had an issue with even then.

MH: I believe technology has become a more refined tool in the studio for artists. For me, personally, I use technology to open my research to the world. I enjoy delving deep into obscure websites and articles about long-forgotten ideas or philosophies. I extract and manipulate imagery and information I find to create a new, personal story. In that way, technology and the Internet have become my modern plein air, or still life: it is the subject I portray through my artistic practice.

For others, technology can be a hindrance, especially when one prefers the classical approach to painting, sculpting, photography. To that, I have to say that computer technology has helped them regardless of its use in the studio. We all watch TV, movies, read articles online, watch DVDs, sit through PowerPoint presentations, research through Google. It has had indirect and direct effects on the studio artist, one I hope everyone embraces.

TD: What are some specific examples of artists/pieces/installations incorporating art with technology you’ve exhibited at DCCA?

MH: We have established an annual video exhibition, which solely relies on audio and video technology. I wanted to create an exhibition that doesn’t treat video art as an anomaly in the gallery, instead, let the video artists exist in a gallery and have the work transcend the new medium.

Our Education department is constantly looking for and using computer technology to advance programming out of the classroom. When we can show a visitor how something goes from idea to a 3D print, they’ve learned something they may not have anywhere else. We want to engage our audience by exhibiting thought-provoking artwork and contextualizing it through relevant educational programming.

TD: Where do you see visual arts in the future?

On Mars, hopefully. I’m somewhat joking. I believe that creating art lead to civilization. When early hominids depicted their world around them, they created a visual and virtual reality that set the stage for written communication. If art began our sentience, art will carry us beyond our time.

Art has a way of filling the cracks, no political regime nor movement will stifle humanity as long as it has something to say, history has proven that. I believe art will be our future language, when we all drop our swords and come together as a single people. When we achieve that cooperative future, art will become our legacy and it will travel with us beyond our skies, and hopefully we will plant it on other worlds.

Scientists, Mathematicians and Engineers may have built society, but artists, musicians and poets have defined it.

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Holly Quinn

Holly Quinn is Technically Media’s Lead Reporter for Delaware. A Wilmington native and AIHS grad, she attended Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, back when it was located on an old estate in Elkins Park (not to date herself). When she’s not covering tech in DE, she writes reviews of local theater for the paper.

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