Technological advances can spur changes in the course of art mediums, technique, concept, and art markets.   

The printing press was the world’s first global information super-highway.  The invention of the Gutenberg Press resulted in the proliferation of etchings, monoprints, monotypes, and seminal fine art techniques such as single-color shading, or chiaroscuro.  Advanced by artists such as Dürer, printing fundamentally changed the way artwork is disseminated, bought, and sold.   

The industrialization of art materials, the invention of synthetic chemical pigments and the conveniently portable tin tubes used to hold them, cut a time-consuming step out of the painting process, the manufacture of paint by the artist, allowing the artist to focus on the expressive use of these durable, brilliant new colors.  These advances gave birth to Impressionism and, subsequently, Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. 

The manufacture of scientific equipment resulted in professional-grade lenses which were used in the design of cameras.  What began as a hobbyist’s sport was shaped, in the hands of dedicated proponents such as Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams, into a serious and expressive art form: photography.   

Portable video cameras such as Portapak and Super 8  became available to New York artists in the 1960’s resulting in a gritty medium designed for display on television and screens: video art. 

Curator and director of Boston Cyberarts George Fifield explains, “Today video art has turned into a different thing – but in its history, video art was, in many cases, a reaction against television”  

Television screens continue to undergo transformations, from cathode ray tubes to plasma screens, to the current generations of LCD and LED-based flat screens.  In the same way that oil paint has proven durable, the moving image is now in its second century and shows no signs of waning.  The recent flattening of the screen’s form factor supplies a canvas for moving images.  Artists labor to explore this medium and lay a foundation for 21st century art.  It remains to be seen how the art market will absorb these advances but their importance gathers momentum with each passing exhibition of moving paintings and moving painting-like works.  

“As opposed to video art, (this type of art) came about because of a specific medium.  Flat screen panel panels that have a frame on them that mount on the wall.  And without these nobody was doing this with tube television sets that I know of.   Not consistently…and it certainly wasn’t being referred to that way. “ – George Fifield 

Boston Cyberarts, curated by George Fifield