Context

Swipe, swipe, swipe… one post or picture after another, and seldom do we look back. Are we losing track of the past when there is a drive to live moment to moment?

Last week I visited the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA) and noticed that each display is separated by time period, artist and culture. I started with Picasso and worked my way through to the contemporary art collection. It was such a contrast to the other exhibits that I even stopped to see if there was a section I’d missed.

As I walked through the contemporary art gallery, the first thing I noticed was that very few of the art pieces were paintings. There were many modern structures like a child’s room filled with his sports card collections and equipment, a house made of scraps and a map comprised of footstools. There were also a few digital displays and a number of photos.

I read almost all of the short descriptions adjacent to each work of art, curious to compare this art to the days of Picasso, Matisse and Monet. What changed between then and now? I found the answer left to my imagination.

Walking back to my car, I thought about the gallery experience as a whole. I loved each display as they were all so different, but I wondered about a timeline. What about a sequential exhibit of art from past to future? For example, a series of the earliest oil paintings to the most recent to show change in styles, subjects and textures. Another example is the portrait. The media we use to make group portraits has changed substantially over time from paintings, to daguerreotypes,* to film prints, digital prints, and finally live photos and the selfie.

I usually only read a few of the summaries as I wander around galleries or museums because I’ve already learned of their history or context; however, I was confused when I began to tour the contemporary museum. It appeared to be a very random collection without roots. Why did the artist create this? What makes it art? How did this evolve as art? When did this style of painting or photography evolve? I was lost as to the context of this collection.

As we move to a globally digital era, effects and consequence of our decisions have a greater impact at ever increasing speeds. It seems this new era is detached from the last with a sudden discontinuity in the continuum of slow and steady developments- just as with the contemporary art collection. Without a past and an idea of the future, it can be difficult to understand the now.

Technology is still at a very young age, without much context, and that is why we must be careful in our consideration of how we use it and how this affects us. No matter what the day and age, asking questions is so important to shaping our future.

Are the digital trends good trends? Does the technology we use ameliorate our lives? How does the way others use tech. affect us and to who’s benefit? Why do we use technology? How has the consumerist society driven the way we use and consume tech….? The answers to such questions can create a context which is integral to understanding where we are today and where we are going with technology. Like art, some technology is here to stay, while other exploratory creations will pass, as tech. too is a form of creative output.

…What questions do you have about tech. today?!

Left: art 1950- 1975
Top right: contemporary art, footstool map
Bottom right: Tupperware… yup! Credit for this famous glass Tupperware set goes to Wilheilm Wagenfeld, Germany, 1900- 1990.

 

*daguerreotype- a photograph taken by an early photographic process employing an iodine-sensitized silvered plate and mercury vapor

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