The Politics of Art & Technology
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The Politics of Art & Technology

As technology advanced, artists gradually moved from traditional to digital art. A study on digital art by the University of Tennessee found that there were over 22,500 digital art jobs available in early 2021, with most jobs paying a salary above $60,000 coming from technology sectors. Digital art has become a more viable option due to the convenience of technological devices, where artists can create and publish their work efficiently. However, there are still traditional artists who use physical mediums, such as paint and a canvas and use their work for both economic and personal use. Often, the value of the art comes from the design and meanings woven into the art piece.

Given that art is medium for different messages, it’s unsurprising that artists can use their work as a platform to be political. Maryville University’s write-up on political psychology highlights how personality differences influence political behaviors and outcomes, including our propensity to vote, our trust in governments, attitudes toward civic duty, and policy positions — all of which are ideas that can be translated into artistic mediums, by artists with unique personalities. When considering the widespread use of technology, everyone is interconnected and exposed to different ideas and visions, including art. In this article, we’ll cover how art and technology serve as political vessels.

Overlap Between Art and Politics

As mentioned earlier, art is a tool to engage and connect with people on a political level. Political consultant Ryan McCollum notes that the overlap between art and politics is necessary because both areas are deeply impactful on our lives, primarily through media. In the past, satirical political cartoons were a great way to look at specific issues differently and sway political choices. Similarly, music has always been a channel for artists to share their feelings and principles, with some including their political views and experiences. In the modern day, the rise of technology has made it much easier to showcase art. Examples include late-night comedy monologues with political commentary as part of their shows.

Given plenty of artistic communication options, people can tap into their creativity and elevate connections between people and politics. As shared in our post “How Love & Technology Can Save the World”, artistic works like LGBT+ tribute “My Heart Beats Like Yours” can tap into both the power of empathy and design-as-activism as a daily reminder of diversity and inequalities faced by Brazilian society. It’s these meaningful expressions that influence people’s behavior and perspective on politics, which can be further enhanced through the use of technology.

Elevating Art with Technology

Now, people are consuming more art than ever before, albeit unconsciously. Different mediums have emerged from rising tech, including digital art, video, photography, and more. Given this fluidity, the current generation of artists can explore more ways to expand their advocacies and reach. In the case of African digital artist Freddie Jacob, she explores themes and discussions around female identity, female allyship, familial love, healing, and female hair politics. In addition to tackling these complex topics, art-sharing platforms such as peer-to-peer marketplaces for crypto collectibles or NFT have given people a place to share their work and earn from them. Through these opportunities for political self-expression and commercialization, art has plenty of ways to expand through creativity and innovation while sustaining itself.

The meaningful messages conveyed by art always have a place for political expression. With rising technology and the accessibility of art, only time can truly tell how art will transform.