"Technology has liberated an entire generation of thinkers, movers, creators," painter Kehinde Wiley says as his modernized visions of classical portraits flow past one another. "What we have now is a communication ability. We have the ability to see working ideas that are going on in the great cities throughout the world, and whether you live in Shanghai or you live in Sao Paolo, you have the ability of seeing and knowing the ideas of some of the greatest minds of our generation."
Wiley joins dozens of visionaries including Francis Ford Coppola, MIA, Ed Ruscha, Susan Sarandon, Frank Gehry, David Hockney, Daniel Arsham, Miranda July, Jonas Akerlund, Simon de Pury, and others interviewed by directors Pablo Ganguli and Tomas Auksas for Artistry / Technology, a new documentary that explores the relationship between art and technology, and how technology has had an impact on the lives of the world’s greatest artists and creatives. The intimate documentary debuts in full on March 30, 2015, but today The Creators Project premieres a 13-minute short version, created by multimedia and cultural organization, Liberatum, and presented by Swire Properties.
"Great developments have occurred thanks to technological advancement, but it is also ruining our sleep at night due to the devices we can't leave behind and bring to bed with us," says Ganguli, Liberatum's founder. "Creative people are increasingly using technology to produce their art but can they still excel without it or are they completely attached and dependent on it?”
The film's various artists, musicians, filmmakers, and innovators probe this and similar questions, drawing conclusions from their own processes and experiences. "Today, many of us define time periods through technology," says artist Daniel Arsham. "When we think about the past, the way that we may describe it is through fashion, through film, and through technology like music. Think about the technology of how music has been recorded, from phonographs to records to radio and television, to CDs and walkmen." We've come a long way with technology, each icon implies. Francis Ford Coppola believes technology "was essential in order for there to be filmmaking." Talent manager and entrepreneur Scooter Braun draws a line from Nikola Tesla to the modern music industry.
But while they all seem to agree on the positive potentials for technology, its pervasive nature is challenged as well. Says MIA, "If somebody doesn't have a smartphone, and they don't own a computer, that's enough art for me. [...] To exist for ten years on this planet without needing to put yourself out like that, that takes so much willpower. You might as well be a monk in China."
"Young artists from any part of the planet—you could be from Afghanistan and have a camera and have a desire to tell a story—making a film from the middle of nowhere, can actually put something up on YouTube and have the world experience it," says filmmaker Brett Ratner. "That is to me the most exciting time."
Architect Frank Gehry says, "You've got 2,000 kids on machines, and they all have different tastes. And we built a building where we're letting it all hang out. [...] The melange of it all is a very 21st century human texture that has a little bit of Blade Runner, maybe, but it's interesting."
The film begins and ends with comments from the artist David Hockney, who talks how the use of technology has evolved in his work. Referring to paintings he's made on iPhones and iPads, he suggests that what he's doing would have been impossible without it. In fact, like Hockney, maybe we're all doing things a little differently, too. Either way, concludes the film's co-director and Liberatum creative director Tomas Auksas, "It is an exciting time to be an artist."