The late Steve Jobs used to talk about how Apple sat at the intersection of technology and liberal arts. I wonder, though, the extent to which technology is a precursor to new forms of art: whether photography, cinema, radio, television or now networked computing, it tends to be that technology comes first, and then art follows. I wonder how much intersection there actually is…

This occurred to me in reading Will Gompertz history of Modern Art, What are you looking at? Gompertz puts the invention of oil paints in metal tubes as one of the key contributory factors that led to the Impressionist movement: oil colours were for the first time portable and able to be used outside of a studio; as such, the Impressionists took their tools on the road; in turn, because their subjects were not under the controlled lighting conditions of the studio, the artists needed to work quickly to capture the essence of what they saw, hence the style that emerged.

It’s a very “art” example, but it would be interesting to know whether metal tubes were used for packing foodstuffs or cosmetics before or after oil paint. It strikes me that a new technology will be easily adopted in the world of art before “proper”, “beneficial” uses can be found elsewhere…

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