Reactions to Technology

Tracing artists' reactions to technology throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.  We begin with perceptions of technology as harsh and dehumanizing, move on to some exploration into the ways technology affects society and humanity as a whole (and vice versa), and we end with a lovely piece which portrays technology as a tool to be used for self expression and connectedness.

In this painting Graham Sutherland contrasts a serene landscape with unnatural machine-like figures jutting into the foreground. It was painted as a reaction to war and industrialization, and their dehumanizing affect on society. While the background has a soft and flowing texture, the "Thorn Trees" are twisted and menacing, its thorns appearing almost metallic.
Much of the art that has been produced in the late 20th century has dealt with the differences between machine and man, and how the two are perceived and experienced. In this piece, we are confronted with a combination of the two. It is difficult to say whether this piece is earthy or whether it is inhuman, because it is in fact both.
In this series of works by Siyon Jin, the artist utilizes LED lighting to explore the consequences of artificial lighting on the senses and thus on reality. In this piece Wave, an video of a sunrise and a sunset plays as a projection on a 2-dimensional surface. The light is real, and the coloring is realistic, it conjures up images of a scene that is not actually there.
In this work, Yongbaek Lee has created a mirror in which the viewer can look, but there is a projector which makes the mirror appear to crack and then water, which is said to look like tears, drip out and flow down the mirror. In this image, the viewer is faced with the schism between reality and art, reality and imagery, as they become seemingly inseparable from each other.
In works such as this one, Douglas Coupland created functional QR codes that require the user to scan them with a smart phone in order to decode messages hid therein- meandering messages written by Coupland about life and art. While the QR code is more colorful than some others, it does it relay any inherent meaning upon viewing it. This particular code hides the following message: "The pioneers believed the land was holy. The New World was the last thing on earth that could be given to humankind: two continents spanning the poles—continents as clean and green and milky blue as the First Day. The New World was built to make mankind surrender."
In this sculpture, Yongbaek Lee has imitated the pieta, the image all-too familiar in Christian iconography of the Virgin Mary holding her dead son Jesus. However in this version, the images are not human, but rather, they are cyborgs. The mother is made of white metal parts with large bolts and detached torso, its genderless, expressionless face tilted down as if to gaze at its son. The Jesus figure has a smaller body like that of a child but it is red and shiny, almost like a toy. Its round head is plopped backwards, dead.
Another installation from Douglas Coupland that aims to comment on and incorporate modern technology into his work. This piece is a painting that when viewed in person looks like a series of dots. However when viewed from the small screen of a smartphone it reveals patterns and images reminiscent of modern social issues like war and the 9/11 attacks.
Yongbaek Lee again explores the nature of reality and perception in this video piece called Window in Window. The first video one would see upon entering this presentation is a screen that looks to be a window, in which two children play and interact. They seem to be real except that sometimes there are blips in the video and blank screens and errors. At one point the children see something in the audience (another video that has been projected on another area in the room) which turns out to be a corpse. They scream, "It's dead! It's dead!" In this presentation, the audience is made to feel that they are in fact being observed by the video children, not the other way around.
This painting entitled "Internet for Everyone" portrays dancing figures twirling and spreading a rainbow-colored net all the way around the world. This is to symbolize the necessity of all of earth's citizens to join together to make sure that the most important technology of our time, the internet, is available to everyone.
This fascinating piece is based off of the findings of a website which scans the web for blog entries beginning with the terms "I feel" and "I sense" and compiles them into a database at a rate of 15,000 to 200,000 new entries each day. Viewers can interact with the dots on the screen, which all represent a new thought emoted into cyberspace at some time or another, by clicking on them, reading the thought and seeing the image of the person who posted it. This piece is a fun way to counteract the growing suspicion that with more technology comes more isolation.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.