The Digital Divine and the End of Art

By David L. Tucker.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Theory and History

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 17, 2014 $US5.00

In the ancient world, artisans laboured with stone to represent humankind in God’s likeness. In a postmodern age, visions of individual rather than universal truths are now the norm, yet contemporary digital artists continue to enhance, epitomize, and iconize in the name of art, turning the ordinary—the proverbial lump of clay—into the extraordinary. As we move further into the 21st century, artificial intelligence and other advanced digital technologies are poised to become the next tools for transforming the everyday into new aesthetic ideals. Currently, cyber researchers speak confidently about a near future in which computers will surpass the intelligence of their creators, and anticipate a time when man and machine will ultimately merge through bio-technology into cyborg. Futurists argue that the human body is already a machine and that the cyborg will simply become the next step along the road of human evolution, in the same way that the ubiquitous smartphone currently extends our McLuhan-esque reach. Building on my previous work exploring ideal form in an alphanumeric age (Tucker 2011, 37) and incorporating a qualitative survey of the literature, as well as interviews with prominent digital artists and cyber researchers, this paper examines how the dawning of the cyborg age will challenge us to rethink art. As the artist and the shiny, perfect object become one, the age-old quest for ideal form will be rearticulated. Art and life will no longer imitate each other but, instead, co-exist in a state of oneness, as genetic, mechanical and bio-engineering provide a first flickering glimpse at immortality. This paper argues whether, in the future, the question “but is it art?” will need to be reframed as “but are we art?”

Keywords: Digital, Art, Ideal

The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, Volume 8, Issue 1, April 2014, pp.31-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 17, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 282.713KB)).

Prof. David L. Tucker

Associate Professor, RTA School of Media, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

David L. Tucker holds a terminal degree in fine arts. He is an associate professor and former chair of the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University in Toronto. Previously, he served as an associate dean at Sheridan College in Oakville. Tucker is also a published fiction author and has written in scholarly journals including MEI at the Sorbonne and The International Journal of the Arts. Best known for his writing/producing/directing work for CBC-TV’s The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, Tucker has garnered dozens of international television awards including a Gemini for Best Direction, multiple Gemini nominations, a Gracie, a Chris, a Prix Italia and a Freddie, and presented work at Hot Docs.