A (Possible) Future of ArtPrize Technology

Featured Image: ArtPrize Yarn Installation (Comeau, 2015)

As previously stated, technology offers positives and negatives when being incorporated into everyday aspects of life. Not surprisingly, serious drawbacks from this method of technology use occur when tech fails or malfunctions. Users are left without the entire experience and at times even unable to function or operate aspects of their daily lives. But why is technology still so prevalent and consistently introduced to public events such as ArtPrize when these drawbacks are bound to occur? The answer: enhancing the entirety of the experience.

“Technology is best when it brings people together,” (Mullenweg, n.d.)

Technology is rapidly evolving and everyday changing; with it are new ways to introduce tech into our lives. With this being said, many events including our own ArtPrize, are incorporating digital media to create a new experience with visitors. Whether it be using a cell phone to simply place a vote or by using our voice to interact with live exhibits. Technology is boundless and offers many ways to engage the audience. With so many opportunities for digital engagement, I will provide technological tools that I think could increase the overall aesthetics of ArtPrize and events alike.

ArtPrize Installation 2015
Table Installation (Comeau, 2015)

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been rapidly evolving with the increase of digital media in our everyday lives. The management consulting firm McKinsey describes IoT as (2010):

In what’s called the Internet of Things, sensors and actuators embedded in physical objects—from roadways to pacemakers—are linked through wired and wireless networks, often using the same Internet Protocol (IP) that connects the Internet. These networks churn out huge volumes of data that flow to computers for analysis. When objects can both sense the environment and communicate, they become tools for understanding complexity and responding to it swiftly.

This technological system has even gone so far as to be incorporated into modern art; in doing so, creating an interactive experience. The eCloud Project is a permanent installation at the San Jose International Airport. This piece uses real time weather readings that are translated to polycarbonate panels which simulates clouds (2010). This exhibit was was created by a team of artist and developers led by Aaron Koblin, Nik Hafermaas, and Dan Goods. The LightBridge was created by a team from the MIT Media Lab which incorporated science and art that illuminates colorful LED lights as pedestrians cross the walkway (Ramos, 2014). While artist, David Bowen’s Tele-Present Water using readings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Center to give his installation movement that mimics waves of specific bodies of water (2015). The Internet of Things is providing artist a tool that captures real-time data and allows them to integrate this into their piece. The future of ArtPrize and Grand Rapids has the potential to incorporate the entire city into an interactive functioning work of art.

ArtPrize 2015
ArtPrize Hanging Installation (Comeau, 2015)

This style of art has been evolved to be known as new media art and is defined as, “The art that uses new media technologies – period,” (Quaranta, 2012). As technology evolves so does the use for it in today’s art. Even so much to where curators and museums have adopted technologies to showcase their exhibits known as beacons (Cannell, 2015). This feature is quickly sweeping national art museums which allows visitors to use the bluetooth on their phones to connect with each piece. The app senses the location of the user compared to each exhibit and displays additional images galleries, information, and additional details right on the viewer’s phone (Cannell, 2015). While already adopting the digital voting method, ArtPrize could consider further expanding this model to include a beacon for each entry of the competition. Thus, allowing the competition to connect with public viewers over a variety of mixed-media.

Although, there is much to consider regarding technologies in ArtPrize, the possibilities for digital integration of the competition offers many benefits.


Bowen, D. (2010) Tele-Present Water. David Bowen. Retrieved from http://www.dwbowen.com/telepresentwater

Cannell, M. (2015, March 17). Museums Turn to Technology to Boost Attendance by Millennials. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/19/arts/artsspecial/museums-turn-to-technology-to-boost-attendance-by-millennials.html

Chui, M., Moffler, M., & Roberts, R. (2010, March). The Internet of Things. Insights and publication. Retrieved from http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_internet_of_things

Quranta, D. (2012, December 6). What’s (Really) Specific About New Media Art? Curating in the Information Age. Rhizome. Retrieved from http://rhizome.org/editorial/2012/dec/6/whats-really-specific-about-new-media-art-curating/

Ramos, N. (2014, October 14). $2.5 Million Gift Will Shed Light on Harvard Bridge. The Boston Globe. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/10/13/call-smoot-lighting-million-gift-will-brighten-mass-ave-bridge/5UehpL7Zk7YV9gWB3hb3KP/story.html


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