Postmodernism died as soon as public internet access became commonplace, and bolstered by the abundance of smartphones. Media generation is so easy it is reaching a nigh auto-generative state (Tik Tok), and I believe this is an attribute or symptom of the next era (for better or for worse).
The looming threat (or golden age) of automation is already here, with the heralding of AI, Machine learning Neural networks, 3D printers and quantum computers, but these technologies are not yet at the same stage as smartphones are. Most of these next generation technologies require professional education and research in order to master, but editing one’s appearance for posting on social media has become so user friendly that programs like Photoshop are no longer required for the average individual. I would point to Hito Steyerl’s “Duty free art in the time of planetary civil war”, which makes reference to the current generation of mobile and digital cameras that auto process images in order to give the person behind the camera the image they probably want, and not the image that they actually took.
The next era will follow with artists who either engage with this exponential technological development directly by making, using and mastering said technology, or artists who use the user friendly versions to create discussion about it. Both are valid in their own ways and are a matter of taste in the same way as the advent of photography, or, arguably, even the switching of temperas that brought forward the Renaissance. Another example would be glitch-art, which came from cross wiring screens and circuits to produce odd results, to damaging image data on the computer, to lines of code that damage images, to OpenGL apps which require no knowledge of glitch art and what it is. Some may call this a tragedy, losing a segment of art history and technical knowledge, but adaptation is necessary in order to move forward. New types of glitch art have and will continue to emerge, as the old types become over saturated. This example should apply to other techniques, technologies and materials.
The debate lies within the artist’s engagement and execution. Media such as painting, sculpture and printing are lauded due to the mastery of technique and craft. Many digital technologies do not require such mastery, and can seek to mimic artistic practices achieved within physicality, only behind an electronic screen. We can only look at so much blue light, blue light being the color of light emitted by standard computer, phone and television screens. On the other end of the spectrum lies computational art, though exciting, can get lost in technicalities upon technicalities so that the artistry is buried far underneath layers and layers of code. Balance is key.
The merging of humanity with technology has long been a subject of discussion, and transhumanism will herald art of this new condition. It is worth noting that some consider us already well on our way, that psychologically we are already cyborgs, online/virtual presences being how this phenomenon manifests.