Technology in ArtPrize

Grand Rapids Skyline

Featured Image: Grand Rapids Skyline (Comeau, 2015)

“It’s unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike,” (ArtPrize, 2015).

With over 1,500 entries and a half-million dollars’ worth of awards, the city of Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize is one of the worlds largest, independently organized, art competitions (ArtPrize, 2015). The event gained recognition through its open philosophy which states, “Anyone over the age of 18 can be an artist and any space within the ArtPrize district can be a venue. Anyone can participate,” (ArtPrize, 2015). This model has gained popularity with its viewers and ArtPrize has quickly became the public’s competition. Because of this, organizers of the event have introduced digital technology to interact with public opinion. As a result of integrating technology with the people WE decide the grand prize winner; thus, selecting the recipient of a $200,000 prize.

La Grande Vitesse - Grand Rapids, MI
ArtPrize La Grande Vitesse (Comeau, 2015)

However, the introduction of technology poses challenges in all aspects of life. The 2015 competition introduced an ArtPrize mobile app which users would download to place their vote. The implication as reported by FOX 17 West Michigan reporter, Erica Francis: 100,000 mobile downloads with 40,000 registrants casting over 500,000 votes, crashing the app for six hours on the initial day (Francis, 2015). The question must be raised, what are the implications of introducing today’s technology to events such as ArtPrize?

In the scenario previously illustrated, what are the repercussions of malfunctioning digital tools to events such as ArtPrize? By incorporating technology into the competition are visitors left with a worse experience as a whole?

Petrocelli outlines the following implications due to lost data and technological malfunction (2005): risk to sales, inability to operate, lawsuits and fines, and theft of information. As a result of incorporating technology to ArtPrize, organizers of the event were faced with two of the previously mentioned challenges. First, local Grand Rapids businesses that host art exhibits within their venue may have seen a loss of sales due to the implications with the app. While second, event officials and the public were left with the inability to operate the only voting technique used at the competition.

“Computer technology and the data associated with it are integrated into all aspects of an organization’s operations. Because of this dependence on information technology, there is a clear risk that data loss can make it impossible for an organization to perform properly,” (Petrocelli, 2005). In this case, the public was unable to cast a ballot for their choosing of the grand prize winner. Technology which was implemented to engage the audience was left inoperable hence detracting the public from their overall experience. This complication may hinder ArtPrize if it continues to occur by causing interference between public engagement and the art. The audience then becomes disinterested and the reputation for the competition may slowly be lost. As a result, less attendance will be seen in the overall event. Consequently, Grand Rapids businesses are then exposed to a risk in sales due to a lower attendance.

Yet for ArtPrize, a minor glitch in technology can be overlooked. Digital media can be used to enhance the overall experience for the viewer. If properly implemented, artist are provided another medium to engage with the audience to further tell their stories and connect with the viewer’s senses. In addition, the convenience of digitally voting via mobile operating allows nearly anyone to become involved with the competition as a whole. If technology is wisely applied to ArtPrize in the coming future, there should only be positive correlations as a result.


ArtPrize (2015). ArtPrize: About. Welcome to ArtPrize. Retrieved on September 28, 2015. From

Comeau, C. (Photographer) (2015, September 27). ArtPrize: La Grand Vitesse [photograph]. Grand Rapids, MI.

Comeau, C. (Photographer) (2015, September 27). ArtPrize: Grand Rapids Skyline [photograph]. Grand Rapids, MI.

Francis, E. (2015, September 23) Fox 17 West Michigan. ArtPrize kicks off despite technical glitches. Retrieved on September 28, 2015. From

Jones, J. (2014, May 29). The Dailey Beast. Art goes high-tech at these four innovative exhibits. Retrieved on September 28, 2015. From

Petrocelli, T. (2005, December 9). InformIT. The changing face of data protection. Retrieved on September 28, 2015. From


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