THINKING ART IN THE DIGITAL AGE When digital becomes a source of inspiration

Digital technology challenges our relationship to reality and the virtual. RAQUEL KOGAN, Reflexão #2, 2005, Installation interactive, logiciels customisés, miroirs et projection. Exposition Grand Palais

“Be afraid” seems to be the credo for part of the digital world. We will soon be replaced by soft robots, cobots, heaps of knowledge called artificial intelligence, before the advent of a superior and general intelligence that will drive us all like in some best SF novels written by Asimov’s or by K. Dick’s; or as in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville (1965) and of course Spike Jonze’s Her (2015)… With the help of 0s and 1s, artificial intelligence and artifacts, digital seems to be opposed to the living, to emotions, to the famous “real life”. Yet the digital is a sensitive raw material that comes to life thanks to artists who transform, transmute, animate and play with it.

What if current research, particularly in neuroscience, combined with the imaginations of our artist friends, could reverse this fear to show us that human singularity cannot be destroyed by a “technological increase” in our senses, however fascinating it may be?

The interactions between engineers and artists, sometimes in the same person (!), are boundless sources of innovation, new uses, parodies and mutual inspiration.

Digital as a tool for artistic creation


Do you want to test one of these unlikely yet successful encounters? Meet Julien Levesque, artist and CreativeTech-er.

During an interview done for the agency, he explains why digital is his favourite raw material. Far from preconceived ideas, Julien Levesque shows through artistic devices how digital can help to convey emotions.

Another CreativeTech-er, Albertine Meunier. This digital artist dear to the heart of CreativeTech is releasing an album. It’s funny, poetic, and catchy, in other words it’s simply adorable: just like her! Once you’ve listened to the first notes of data touch or data nugget, you won’t stop humming them, just like us. To be supported without moderation on   kiss kiss bank bank.

Thus, digital is not limited to bits or inert matter. Combined with everyone’s creativity, digital becomes a source of inspiration or a tool for artistic creation. The exhibition at the Grand Palais Artists & Robots, echoing our words, is a beautiful demonstration of the possibilities that open up when the arts and digital, robot or artificial intelligence meet. Indeed the exhibition Artists & Robots has a real mirror effect for the CreativeTech-ers that we are.

In French Data Touch, Albertine Meunier sings for digital and data with humour and emotion. To be listened to without moderation, © YouTube Albertine Meunier

All the names of CreativeTech’s virtual and yet very real library pantheon are featured. This exhibition explores in particular the technological, technical and computing power dimension of the machines. The next step, which is set in the present-day, involves empathetic robots, the reproduction of our five senses and emotions, notably thanks to neuroscience and new scientific discoveries.

Although it is hard to believe that digital can turn into a tool like a paintbrush—this month’s news focuses on the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—there are still innovations or works that combine digital and art that keeps popping up.  We are convinced that with June’s momentum looking brighter, you will see digital in a different light. So make way for festivals, happenings, exhibitions and poetic demonstrations showcasing the links between Creation and Technology (RockTech on 19 June, in which CreativeTech will participate with Jérôme Monceau, the designer of the empathic robot Spoon, 123Data at the EDF Foundation until October 6, Sonar+D in Spain on June 14, Futur.e.s, etc.).

« Senseless Drawing Bot », de Kanno & Yamaguchi, un robot qui dessine à même les murs © Yohei Yamakami

While some sources of inspiration, talks and performances from CreativeTech-ers feed innovation in companies, sound and voice—artificial (Voxigen, IRCAM, SNIPS) or not—offer new fields of innovation for call centers of course, but also in home automation, software design, use of materials (concrete that can speak!), etc. Rather than announcing the apocalypse, digital is on the contrary a tool to build an unexpected, poetic and meaningul future.