The Digitization is not only changing society, but also art

It was in 2017 when I wrote this article about the art of our time, but it is still up-to-date: (German version:

© Miguel Chevalier, Vague Binaire, 2013

Art is always created through the respective time and society, thus always in the present. New techniques accompany new possibilities of artistic potential. And so we learn most of it by looking back at history, which has always shown that any progress has the greatest effect on society when it is widely accepted and standardized. This applies to the achievements of antiquity, letterpress printing, the establishment of oil painting in the Renaissance, the new viewing habits in the age of the impressionists and expressionists, video art right through to today’s digital art. Big data, signals and sensors characterize the age we live in. The “bit noise“ changes our society and culture and our brain. Or as the great media theorist McLuhan knew half a century ago: “We shape our tools, and then our tools will shape us.”


The computer had been a machine since its development in the 1940s – nobody thought of art. But when the first scientists in the NASA space surveillance division began to use computers to create graphics, also the first artists, such as Frieder Nake and Manfred Mohr, realized the first exhibitions with computer drawings.

The first computer animations were created in 1967, and a groundbreaking work by John Whitney Senior., “Arabesque” (1975), which is based on random factors, can still be found on YouTube today. The Austrian media artists Elisa Rose & Gary Danner, in short: STATION ROSE, are considered pioneers of AV art, digital culture, electronic music and net art. You don’t have to go to a museum to trace the beginnings of .

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To trace the beginnings of net art, you don’t have to go to a museum. All you have to do is type the following address into a computer’s browser: Then, in bright green, punctuation marks and numbers flash against a black background. The Internet page does not make sense even if you look at it for a long time. Is it a programming error? The resolution is as simple as it is ingenious and is hidden in the source code. The source code is read by the browser and converts the content into the display intended for the user. If you open the source code, the numbers, dots and slashes result in the ground plan of a hydrogen bomb. The site was developed in 1993 by the artist duo Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Peasmans. It shows very early that the popular medium Internet not only offers a new form of global communication, but can also be understood as an artistic tool.


Today, digital art is any art that is created under the conditions of new technologies. Digital art is not necessarily software or hardware based. Artists like Aram Bartholl, who mainly deals with digital topics, also belong to the field of digital art. is a kind of trademark of artists such as Rafaël Rozendaal, who uses websites and the Internet as the basis for his artistic work. Other artists work with the tools of the game industry.

Post-Internet Art, on the other hand, is not committed to a clearly definable style, but rather a state of mind, an attitude shaped by the INo alt text provided for this imagenternet. Artists in this direction use the latest software or devices such as the 3-D printer, as a matter of course, with the help of which they create pictures, films and objects. The internet serves as an inexhaustible resource. Post-Internet artists also often use industrially prefabricated products without doing anything themselves. The main focus is on the concept and also the opportunity of sharing photos or exhibition views of the work with an internationally networked community on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram. The German-American artist Marisa Olson, who first used the term in 2008, is considered to be the inventor of the term “Post-Internet”. Since 2010, other terms have also been in circulation that more or less refer to the same aesthetic thrust of an international art movement: “New Aesthetic”, “Circulationism”, “Tumblerism”, “Radikanten” or “Art Memes”.

The introduction of the iPhone by Apple in 2007 was one of the decisive factors for the new forms of expression in art. The smartphone changed the way we handle and perceive information – images, text, video clips – and inevitably led to new productions in the art.


At the same time, digital art has to face new challenges, because it is ephemeral and based on transient technology. The constant development of technology requires constant improvements – challenges that this generation cannot be deterred from. On the contrary: the chances of marketing art online or being discovered online, such as the artist Petra Cortright, are bigger than they used to be. The constant availability and the 24-hour online shop, the studio in the form of a website, help with self-marketing, while at the same time the pressure of competition is increasing.

Even though the exhibition space is increasingly expanding into a global, virtual data space and enables the uninterrupted reception of art, it must be stressed that cyberspace can never replace real space. Art needs human interaction in order to be perceived, conversation and haptic perceptibility! Without interaction there is no art!

But when we speculate about the future of art, we should keep in mind that the artists of today can no longer imagine a world without computers. Or as an 8-year-old boy in 2010 put it : “Grandpa, you didn’t have computers before: How did you get on the Internet?”