I think we can all agree that I’m a nerd. I got a degree in engineering, I draw comic book stuff, I watch superhero movies, I grew up on “back to the future” and classic cars. It’s great to be a nerd. If you haven’t tried, I’d always advise to give it a shot even if just for a little. Like I said, I nerd out about a number of things. Today, I’m going to nerd out about the intersection of Art and Technology. How Art will change the future. Or at least How I think it will.
So, let’s talk about the present and the ways that art has influenced life as we know it. To do that, I’m going to bring it back the movie “back to the future” number III specifically. There was a point in the movie where doc brown (who is from the, then present, 1980s) is in the “wild west” where he falls in love with a lady from that time.
Clara Clayton : Emmett, do you think we'll ever be able to travel to the moon like we travel across the country on trains?
Doc : Definitely, although not for another eighty-four years and not on trains. We'll have space vehicles, capsules to sail off in rockets, devices that create giant explosions, explosions that are so powerful that they...
Clara Clayton : [finishes Doc's sentence] "They break the pull of the earth's gravity and send their projectile through outer space."
[Doc stares at her in shock. Clara laughs]
Clara Clayton : Emmett, I read that book too. You're quoting Jules Verne, "From the Earth to the Moon".
This is a reference to a book that was written over 100 years before the real moon landing. The actual science in the fiction novel was off (he did some basic calculations and technical imagining) but he was closer than you’d expect!
The examples I used are movie or book, and there are a number of them whether they are light and optimistic or downright dystopian, but many of them have fairly accurate predictions. (See back to the future and the casino magnate politician or check out a different movie called Idiocracy).
Artists have weird way of breaking down truths of life to use them to predict the future. Alternatively, artists have also historically expressed them in a way that is digestible for those who may not have experienced that truth which can be a tool to educate and and make changes in the world affecting how the future unfolds.
For instance, rap as a a genre of music was born out of oppression. An active effort by the government to disenfranchise, devalue and (defund, pillage, imprison) communities of color. This music bubbled out of despair and rose to mainstream. Those who had experienced oppression first hand have been telling these stories for years and new generations came after and told the stories in their own way. Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole have global audiences which means these stories reach people who could not otherwise understand these environments and are a form of educating the masses, white, brown, black and otherwise. This in tandem with on-the-ground social justice movements, some responsible educators in traditional institutions, reputable politicians, the internet and just good old fashioned googling; facilitated the BLM movement reaching a fever pitch last year and now there is a George Floyd Justice in policing act that would affect how police force operate. There’s a lot of work to still do but with these kind of global movements, art is necessary to appeal to the senses of the unfamiliar.
So, I’ve talked about how art has predicted the future (present), how art has influenced the future (present), now what about the future from this point forward and it’s relationship to art? How will art change the future? Well, shit is about to get real crazy (I think so anyway). Part of this crazy change will have to do with how we already interact with our devices, the iphone being a more iconic example of the intersection of art and technology. That being said, I think art and technology will be more and more conjoined. The reason for that, in my opinion is rooted in the curtains of our societies being slowly lifted. Bringing to light how the structures of our society that are either antiquated, unfair, inefficient, unjust, or otherwise unwanted by the masses. Enter new technologies: Blockchain, computer learning, AI, AR, VR etc.
All of sudden, we are able to create our own structures, our own stories, our own followings; Our own systems to replace older ones that no longer serve us. So, I think cryptocurrency is a creation that would be the natural first use for blockchain technology cuz, you know, C.R.E.A.M (cash rules everything around me… dolla dolla bills y’all.) But what it’s truly showing and exposing is the inefficiencies of how money works currently. I mean, they just print the shit willy nilly and turn knobs and tweak conditions and pass it out to the gov’s goonsquad…but as long as we all believe the dollar has value, it does. What blockchain has enabled is turning that concept into code, so there is documentation of how people value this currency (cryptocurrency) over time. Why does that have to do with art? Well, what is pretty much as old as money? Art? So, now there’s NFTs (non-fungible tokens) which ties these pieces of art to a “piece of code” per se which among other things, allows digital artists to make royalties off art they’ve sold. The next thing this might be used for is government or things that are otherwise slow and inaccurate due to human error. I just saw something saying that Peru implemented blockchain to facilitate processes that would otherwise be slow and cumbersome. But I digress.
Pair all that with the technologies that will enable us to live in AR (augmented reality) which will allow us to interact with digital objects that such as some of the NFTs being made right now, there is a whole new world that artists will be creating in the future. So, you might be wearing an AR suit or skin that if someone was walking around wearing these AR glasses, that person would see you in that suit/that skin/that digital weapon etc.
Now, of course it will likely not be perfect. I’ve said it before. These spaces are still filled with rich white males and there are costs to entry that make it harder for people of color to participate. The Winklevoss twins hold an insane amount of bitcoin. Microsoft will likely be the beneficiary of a lot of the AR tech, and likely many more examples among other corporate giants. I definitely don’t have a following that would make NFTs a profitable choice for me right now but I’m learning and I have invested withing my comfort zone. The NFT space is probably in a bubble or headed there, so there will probably be a contraction, which would effect the value of ethereum, so be aware of that. So, the journey to the future will likely be a bumpy ride.
That being said, the growth of these technologies don’t seem to be stopping so, it might behoove us people of color to get educated and possibly get in at a good spot or somehow implement cost basis averaging?… is that what it’s called? So, this isn't financial advice, do your own research maybe consult with an expert etc... So, will these technologies solve poverty? No, not on it’s own, but it might allow for people with the know how to make a difference. And as artists/creatives, we have a responsibility to imagine and idealize these kinds of concepts and maybe we can inspire the nerdy imaginative kids to build the things that will change the world. I'm sure there are people right now trying to figure those things out.
PS. I’m no pro, but if you have any questions regarding crypto, nfts, etc. Let me know and I’ll try to help or guide you in the right direction.