Susan Riley | July 2017

Algorithms and the Arts

Monet, Van Gogh, Warhol… all of these names sound familiar, right? What about ‘The Next Rembrandt?’ Maybe not so familiar.

Each of these famous artists created pieces that were dubbed irreplaceable and ‘one of a kind’ – at least until artificial intelligence (AI) was born and learned how to use algorithms and 3D printers to analyze and eventually re-create historical works of art and styles of particular artists, Picasso being one of them.

In layman’s terms, an algorithm is simply a set of steps used to accomplish a task. Algorithms are used on a daily basis in multiple ways – we decide our morning routines, teachers make lesson plans, and students schedule time in their day to do their homework.

This video has been created with mysimpleshow.

The classrooms of the digital age apply algorithms to the arts every day, and no age group is excluded. Whether it be K-12, college, vocational, or post-graduate programs, technology is used to aid in teaching and learning, and can be considered a new art form.

Connecting Algorithms and the Arts

Creating the technology is an art in itself. Planning how the technology will work requires knowledge, technique, and skill; but innovation requires creativity and thinking outside the box in order to come up with something completely new to solve a problem or fill a gap in the world of technology… or art.

Art is about being creative, using your imagination to come up with original ideas, and all of the arts embody that general principle. In our rapidly and ever-changing world, many of us often lose our sense of imagination that we have as children. Thanks to technology, we can get in touch with our creative minds again and apply that style of thinking in the classroom.

Leverage Technology

Students are learning how to use technology and choosing career paths sooner in their studies than they ever have before. Computer science and technology classes are mostly mandatory starting at a young age. Art software is used constantly, with Photoshop being a prime example – the spot healing feature is an algorithm that streamlines retouching, making the artistic process easier for the user who may or may not have any artistic skill. User experience and user interface (UX/UI) programs and college majors are popular, and taking classes in high school that will provide a base of understanding for the various aspects and algorithms that UX/UI embodies is a great way to prepare for a future career.

Compared to choosing a career and learning a discipline, algorithms and the arts are intertwined at much simpler levels for both educators and learners. The opportunities are endless and likely go unnoticed on a day to day basis:

  • utilizing an LCD projector to mirror moving images and play a movie in history class
  • visiting a website to present or search for information
  • using a Smart Board to draw a diagram or teach any topic with a touch screen
  • making PowerPoint presentations with creative aspects such a clipart, videos, or personal images embedded into layouts
  • creating explainer videos with software programs like mysimpleshow that use algorithms for semantic analysis and finalizing the automated video creation process
  • using a scanner to import a drawing to enhance a project
  • accessing YouTube to watch a video online
  • opening a music player to listen to a song or audio clip

Algorithms and the arts are ever-present. Technology is exponential and will only advance in the coming years, aiding in spreading art to places it may have never reached otherwise, while likely never being able to replace the artist and human ingenuity. Only in the age of technology can we wonder if the next Haring or Basquiat is in a lab somewhere, computing an art piece to fill wall space at the Louvre. Cheers to the digital age!

Editor’s Note: This article was written by guest writer, Emily ClearyEmily is a writer, musician, and content marketing manager with a background in higher education teaching, writing tutoring, and marketing. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Sociology and studied business in college. Emily writes various types of content online about software and technology, education and learning, and business. You can contact her via LinkedIn.

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education.Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.Email Susan