Interestingly, some people feel that the iPad and other mobile devices are ‘different’ to other mediums for art making. They feel a separation between ‘traditional’ mediums and new technology in the art room. While so many people discover the creative potential of mobile devices, they question the ability of the iPad to ‘make art’.
I would argue that the iPad is actually a tool for creation in the same way that charcoal, pencils, etc are used to produce art. When you think about the diverse material we use to make art, does a tablet or a phone really stand out amongst screen printing presses, metal castings, air brushes, spray paint, macro photography, rocks, fibreglass and LED light installations?
The iPad is just another art-making tool, albeit a new and very powerful one, to use alongside the tools we have always used in the art room and beyond.
“There is no such thing as art, only artists.” That’s what they say, and I tend to agree.
I also baulk at the idea that ‘hands-on’ art making does not include tablet devices, iPhones, etc. Have you watched someone make art on an iPad? What does ‘hands-on’ actually mean? It’s worth considering. Is art made in the environment using sticks to create a pattern ‘hands-on’? The waters get pretty murky when you start thinking along this line.
But these debates about art-making processes and mediums certainly aren’t new. As Michael Prodger notes, “For 180-years, people have been asking the question: is photography art? At an early meeting of the Photographic Society of London, established in 1853, one of the members complained that the new technique was “too literal to compete with works of art” because it was unable to “elevate the imagination”. This conception of photography as a mechanical recording medium never fully died away.”
In any medium, the tactile experiences of making are personal, and the expressive qualities of art are a combination of aesthetics, technical skill, etc. This includes making art on the iPad.
Check out this except from an interesting article on Mindshift, and learn more about the value of creating digital and traditional art.
Paint or Paint App? The Value of creating digital vs. traditional art
MINDSHIFT “When it comes to creating something new, Sonnemaker says that technology helps her students be more creative, not less: “In regards to composition, students are not only more engaged in their own projects (with iPads), but they’re using real life technology,” she said. “We still do a good deal of composition exercises using old-fashioned pencil and paper. But using Garageband on the iPad is what many professional musicians use, so students are also acquiring skills to compose in the real world if they choose to continue.”
Benefield’s colleague, visual art teacher Karen Richards, notes that iPad apps have made the tools that digital artists use much more accessible for young children, but having the digital technology available doesn’t at all diminish hands-on art making.
“I must stress that technology is one of many tools our students have to execute their critical and creative thinking. We believe that they must also know how to sew, woodwork, sculpt in clay, paint, draw, make prints, shoot a good photo, animate an image, and know about the artists that they stand on the shoulders of,” Richards said.
Richards describes a recent photography-based project she developed in order for children to blend the two: “They’re all taking tons of photos (with the iPads), so we worked on photography. We also learned a bit about Photoshop with Photoshop Express, and we had each student (K-8) edit and alter their photo before printing it out on watercolor paper,” she said. The final outcome was a sewing project inspired by textile artist and San Francisco Day School artist-in-residence Ehren Reed, where the students sewed into their photos.
In January of this year, the Indianapolis Museum of Art opened the Star Studio, an interactive exhibit that includes a room filled with iPads featuring a museum-customized drawing app. Tools include digital blending sticks, markers, chalk and paint brushes. Originally intended for children ages five to eight to explore the fundamentals of art alongside their parents, says Jen Mayhill, Senior Coordinator of Play and Learning at the museum, in reality the exhibit’s popularity has extended much further. “We’re seeing people of all ages and abilities using the application now.” Mayhill mentioned that, even though she doesn’t have the numbers yet, the exhibit is popular; a feature that allows visitors to email their finished iPad artwork has already yielded over 1,500 emails of art. “Purely from my own observations, I cannot imagine this space without these components, since they appear to be as popular as the tables including more traditional art mediums.” Read more from Holly Korbey’s article ‘Paint or Paint app: The Value of Creating Digital vs Traditional Art, originally posted on Mindshift.
If you want to get a feel for the impact technology across other areas of the arts, check out this post from techinmusic.wordpress.com and see the changing landscape for music in a digital era.