This past week I traveled to York, UK to give a talk at the “No Boundaries” conference — a gathering of artists and members of the creative community. While I’ve been to London a number of times, this was my first adventure to York.
Though York is fairly big (population of 200,00) and has its share of modern shops and restaurants, the town definitely has held on to its medieval roots. From the cathedrals, to the stone walls surrounding the city to the abandoned fortress atop a hill, the town could be a set for Game of Thrones.
The actual conference was held in the Guildhall, the town hall which served the business people of the past centuries. Along with tree trunk columns, heavy wooden doors and colorful sculptures peering down at us from the ceiling, the hall has gorgeous stain glass windows.
I have to confess that because I was under the weather, exhausted and out-of-my element industry-wise, I was rather bored the first day. But I was sprung out of my boredom when the organizer of the conference and film-maker/producer, Marcus Romer, said something profound. Let me back up a sec. Marcus’s agenda for this conference was obvious to me. He wanted to gather the artistic community to share ideas. But more importantly, he wanted to propel these folks into the new technological age (hence my invitation to speak). Now back to the profound statement. In an effort to wake the community out of their 20th century stupor, he pointed to the beautiful stained glass windows and said: “this was the new technology of the time. People traveled to see this new art work and marveled at its ingenuity.” In other words it was artists who were the technologists of their day. They didn’t shy away from it. Rather they embraced and even created it!
I loved this! Technology isn’t new. Fire, spears, the printing press and countless other inventions were new technologies that we all had to learn, master and eventually develop further. To think the art world should shield itself from tech is nuts.
As any designer knows, art and technology go hand in hand. We have to stop fearing that technology strips us of true connection with art. Technology is art and vise versa.