Art is timeless. It is one of the most basic ways by which humans can express themselves. Our fears, our dreams, our visions of a better world or of the afterlife or of worlds across the stars; all these have been represented through the limitless media of art since prehistoric times. The course of history, a tale rich in the rises and falls of empires and religions and political agenda, runs parallel to the evolution of new ways of expressing ourselves through art.
Art’s Not Going Anywhere
Art has been around forever, so there’s no reason to think that it will be going away any time soon. There is room to question, however, the future of art. What new artistic styles will the future’s political, social, and environmental struggles give birth to? Will we see a return to basic, classical techniques? Will the ever-developing technological marvels being produced throughout the world give rise to new techniques that aren’t yet feasible?
One theory is that of Canadian artist and cultural theorist Douglas Coupland , who states in an blog article that conflict art will be a big part of the future. He writes that ‘the battle of what it means to be an individual human being has never been so heightened: the ever-escalating clash between modernity and eternity…heaven versus nothingness; science versus religion…”
This is a similar idea to that of journalist Margaret Carrigan, who discusses the recent phenomenon of social practice art in another article. In these times of social, political, and religious upheaval art is one of the most powerful ways that people can express their reactions to the world and even make a significant difference by altering the world-views of those who are exposed to this art.
Cutting-edge Artistic Tech
This theme of socially relevant art that interacts directly with the viewer is perpetuated in an article by Richard Koshalek in the Smithsonian Magazine. He predicts that artists will move “behind the four walls of established institutions (such as museums)” and will engage more directly with their audiences through the use of cutting-edge artistic technologies.
Technological devices such as cell phones, tablets, virtual reality, and more are practically necessities for today’s world and thus it makes sense that there is an ever-growing market for artists to utilize this techno-space instead of the more traditional space of a museum or gallery.
Artists Have a Bigger Say
Koshalek writes that one outcome of this trend could be a shift from having artistic decisions made by political or corporate leaders with money and influence to having the decisions be made more personally by creative artists themselves. In the world of the internet, anyone can upload their artistic content and be practically guaranteed an audience for their message.
Another direction that some people take when thinking about the future impact of technology in art is a return to symbolism via the medium of the emoji. While some might mock the emoji as a silly tool for the teenage texter, throughout history art and messages have been depicted using symbols and pictographic tools. Why should the era of the future be any different? After years of art becoming more and more complex and realistic, maybe is time for a return to a more simplistic, intuitive style of communication.
Another article discusses some of the possible artistic trends for the twenty-first century. While much of this is just speculation, the ideas are worth looking into. The author notes that the rise of the middle class worldwide will most likely result in an increase in the availability of affordable, high-quality cameras and thus a heightened popularity of photographers with new and individualized styles.
The article also predicts a rise in the Asian art markets caused by the worldwide economic domination of countries like China, Japan, and India. Currently there is a shortage of formal art museums and galleries in these countries, but in the years to come emerging artists from the region may rise up as Asian artistic styles become more globalized and popularized in Europe and the Americas. Similarly, the article states African art, an underdog in the contemporary art market for so long, will finally come to the forefront as economic development grows in the region.
Who Can Predict the Future?
Nobody can predict the future of art for certain, just like we cannot predict for certain which new technologies will come to the forefront and which will fall to the wayside. It can be said fairly confidently, however, that growing globalization and economic development in formerly third-world countries will hopefully lead to an increase an exposure to the art from these regions.
Additionally, conflict art related to today’s social and political upheaval is most likely here to stay for the foreseeable future. As long as there are conflicting viewpoints on issues like religion, nuclear power, preservation of the environment, and human rights, there will always be art in reaction.