5 min. read | October 11, 2023 by esther

Creativity in the Age of technology

Animation inspired on Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe by Manet in 1863 which marks a transitional moment between realism and impressionism

Creativity is one of the most intriguing attributes of humanity. The ability to create art, devise innovative solutions, and express thoughts and ideas has set us apart throughout history. But what happens when technological advancements completely transform the way we are creative and work? With all the discussions about the future of A.I., the fears and possibilities being debated, I wanted to take a step back. Are there patterns, things we can learn? Therefore, I delve into some key chapters of these developments in combination with communication and art forms. There are many more, but these examples should already set the creative wheels in motion.

1439: The Printing Press – Capturing the Word

In the middle of the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, an invention that led to the art of book printing. This was a true revolution in the way knowledge was disseminated and significantly transformed the creative world.

Gutenberg printing press 1439

Negative Impact: The introduction of the printing press raised concerns about job loss, especially among hand-copiers. Some writers also worried about the uniformity of printed texts and the loss of control over the distribution of their works.

Positive Impact: Others embraced the printing press as a means to spread new ideas. Creativity gained new possibilities because writers could now present their work to a broader audience. Books became accessible to a wider public, democratizing information and allowing new ideas to spread rapidly. The printing press created new jobs, such as printers, typesetters, and publishers.

1827: Photography – Capturing Images

With the emergence of photography in the 19th century, artists and documentary makers could capture the world in an entirely new way.

Joseph Nicephore Niépce, 1827, first photograph

Negative impact: Photography raised concerns about privacy invasion and posed challenges for artists. Some feared job loss, especially among portrait painters.

Impression, Sunrise” by Claude Monet, 1872. This work gave its name to the Impressionist movement.

Positive impact: The fear of job loss led to new artistic movements like Impressionism, which distinguished painting from photography by emphasizing subjectivity. Photography gave society a new means of expressing itself creatively. It also created new career opportunities, such as professional photographers, image editors, and digital artists.

1850: Industrialization – From Craftsmanship to Mass Production

The industrialization of the 19th century brought about mass production and factory labor, marking a profound period of technological and economic change.

Industrial Revolution around 1850 – 1900

Negative impact: The creative industry was concerned about their craftsmanship, which, in many cases, was taken over by machines. There were also concerns about working conditions and the environmental issues arising from these new developments.

1860. William Morris, designer. Arts & Crafts movement

Positive impact: Industrialization made products more affordable and design accessible to the masses rather than just the elite. It led to a period of strong economic growth and inspired the Arts and Crafts movement, which emphasized the value of handmade products. Artists like William Morris advocated for craftsmanship and artistic integrity and developed a distinctive style as a counterresponse to technology.

Looking at the Present: The Speed of Change

Developments are happening ever faster, and we are now at the beginning of a new era (the information age) of creative disruption, driven by artificial intelligence and digital technologies.

Negative Impact: Jobs are disappearing, and there are challenges in the areas of privacy, copyright, and the preservation of authenticity.

Positive Impact: These technologies accelerate and automate creative processes, providing creatives with new tools and space to realize their vision. Opportunities exist for personalization, remote collaboration, and the creation of new worlds through VR and AR.

The Future of Creativity

While some professions have vanished in the past, others have adapted and continue to exist in modified forms. New jobs and movements have also emerged, leading to progress and further development.

We are still at the early stages of this revolution, and it’s challenging to predict which new jobs will emerge and which will disappear. What is clear, though, is that creativity is resilient and always adapts to changing technologies and societal needs. This era of creative disruption offers exciting opportunities and challenges, and I can’t wait to see what new creative responses will be born in this age.

In summary, the impact of technological developments on creativity is a story of both challenges and opportunities that seems to repeat itself. It’s up to creative minds to embrace these changes and continue to innovate.