Digtial Design & Art

Are touchscreens, smartphone apps and 3D printers all new means of producing art? In this age when digital technologies form part of the very DNA of generations brought up counting electric sheep, the plastic arts are being infused with digital innovations so that they can look upon the modern world through a digital lens. Is this evolution or revolution? The question touches on just how extensive the transformation that creativity and its practices are undergoing is - a transformation driven by digital technologies.

As far as tools are concerned, digital technologies serve first and foremost as an extension of the more traditional techniques. A typical example is photography. "With digital cameras, you can take risks, experiment with different compositions and then start again as many times as you need to until you are satisfied. And then of course you can edit the results – so much more quickly and simply than you could with film", says Liam Fitzpatrick, an enlightened journalist and photographer who gets most of his inspiration from the lights and contrasts of his native Hong Kong.

"My iPhone has become an extension of my gaze. I "work" in a state of permanent awareness. I can be taking a walk or having a conversation with someone when suddenly a ray of sunlight will caress a wall or a whirlwind of leaves will be whipped up into the air. So I will suddenly drop everything so that I can capture the moment! Something that is only possible with smartphones, which are sufficiently responsive and of good enough quality for my shots".

Dance – the art of movement – has also been able to take advantage of new technologies. "Dance does not need digital technologies to exist. But it can gain from them in order to make it richer and to anchor it in the modern era. It has a great deal to learn from digital technologies: they can provide a new insight into the creative processes involved in it", says Armando Menicacci. The Italian-born teacher-researcher and choreographer – who specialises in the relationships between dance and digital technologies – highlights the benefits of isomorphism that digital technologies provide: "With calculations performed on a computer, all of the processes involved in perception can swap their various forms. A gesture can become an image, an image can become a text, etc.



Dance floors tend to be sweaty places for a reason. All of those shimmies and shakes burn energy like you wouldn’t believe—and come with many other surprising health benefits, too.

When you cut a rug, you can expend more than 300 calories every half-hour, according to a report from the University of Brighton in the UK. That meets or exceeds the amount of energy you burn during an easy run or swim, the report shows. Even relatively tame forms of dance burn about the same number of calories as cycling.

Dancing demands a lot of energy output because it involves “movement in all directions,” says Nick Smeeton, a principal lecturer at the University of Brighton and coauthor of that report. While running, swimming and other propulsive forms of physical activity use rhythm and momentum to keep you moving, “there is a lot of accelerating and decelerating in dancing, which the body is less able to do in an energy efficient way,” Smeeton says.


Western Dance

"Stir up that recipe for greatness," Casie "Tynee" Goshow says as she moves her arms in circles while teaching alone from a neon-lit platform at FORWARD__Space's virtual hub. Goshow prompts the people watching her on-demand class to close their eyes as they continue the simple, repetitive combination: brushing hands in front of the face, then spreading arms wide.

"Think about all the amazing, powerful things you're going to do now with the rest of your day, your week and your month—because you are ah-may-zing," she says to the camera.

This isn't your mother's exercise class. It's FORWARD__Space, one of many pandemic-friendly virtual workouts that emphasize the joyful, spiritual and social aspects of dance. From Ryan Heffington's free Sweatfest classes on Instagram Live to the thousands of people who join Dance Church's jubilant dance parties, online dance workouts have become an outlet for coping with grief, isolation and anxiety brought on by the pandemic. These classes are not about mastering complex combinations; there's no teacher barking counts or reminding you to "pull up" and point your toes. Instead, instructors encourage you to connect to your body, move freely and, most importantly, let go.