Looking Forward with Kyle Evans and Jacob Villanueva

What’s on the Horizon for Digital Art?

As we begin 2017, we wondered about what is on the horizon for digital media art.

We realized this is a great opportunity to ask artists we know to tell us what they are most excited about, what they see as challenges ahead, and how they (and the rest of us) can prepare for what’s next.

In this first pair of interviews, we hear from Kyle E. Evans and Jacob Villanueva. Kyle is a new media artist, sound designer, electronic instrument creator, educator and performer. Jacob is a professional creative focusing on digital media. Both live in Austin, Texas.

de/Rastra by Kyle E. Evans

Kyle E. Evans

musician, digital artist, educator
kyleellisevans.com

What is a new opportunity in digital art you are most excited about?

I’m excited about the increased accessibility of “old” technology as it is driven out of fashion by the new. Something economically inaccessible to artists becomes thrift store fodder within a few years. We tend to be careful with expensive technology, utilizing it only in the ways it was designed to be used.

In my experience, nothing interesting comes from using things the way they were intended. Cheap technology gives artists the opportunity to misuse and even abuse the technology until it creates something interesting that was never intended by the manufacturer.

What is a new challenge in digital art that we need to overcome?

The biggest challenge facing digital arts is maintaining criticality. As new technology gives us the ability to create increasingly complex work, it’s easy to lose sight of the greatest purpose of creating within digital media; to explore its impact on the world around us. How is this technology changing our society and what are the positive and negative results of that change?

As excited as I often am about emerging technology, I am equally critical of the control structures that come with it. Creating critical work with digital media is the best way to investigate the social impact of the medium itself.

Creating critical work with digital media is the best way to investigate the social impact of the medium itself.

How can artists best prepare for what’s next? What skill(s) do you see as being most crucial and valuable going forward?

It is crucial that we maintain a culture that is based on the open and free exchange of ideas and information. This entails following in the footsteps innovators like Phil Morton and Dan Sandin and their COPY-IT-RIGHT philosophy, which praises the need for artists to openly share ideas and encourages learning through copying.

The only way we can prepare for the future of digital media is by empowering each other with literacy of the medium and sharing our own knowledge openly with others artists.

Check out Kyle’s dadageek class: http://bit.ly/2idrJhS

The BELOW Project by Jacob Villanueva

Jacob Villanueva

creative director, installation artist
jacobvillanueva.com

What is a new opportunity created by new tech that you are most excited about?

I’m most excited about the level of access we have today — to online fabrication, manufacturers, and distributors of hardware technologies. This access and affordability creates more options for experimentation and prototyping — which is crucial for creatives exploring new technological mediums.

Access and affordability creates more options for experimentation. But tech tools are merely a sandbox to play in — good art requires a strong concept.

What is a new challenge created by new tech that artists will need to overcome?

Staying focused on the concept is still the most important challenge for any creative endeavor. Strong concepts allow the technology fall away, allowing the artist’s idea to speak to the audience.

How can artists best prepare for what’s next? What skill(s) do you see as being most crucial and valuable going forward?

It’s important to constantly be creating new work or putting critical thought towards old projects seeking refinement. It’s a challenge to be critical of an existing project, but there are always solutions that can improve a project or inspire solutions for the next.

Planning and pre-production are still the crucial aspects of a well-executed creative project that incorporates technology. Without sketches, models, and prototypes, the idea may not executed to its fullest potential.

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