The art of technology

Coming up with concepts for events is an artistic process. It’s about vision and seeing the big picture. It’s also about technology and how the vision can be realised. But do art and technology mix? It’s a loaded question. Always up for debate.

David Hockney, now in his 70s and recognised as one of the most important artists of the British Pop movement, embraces technology for art. He uses his iPad to create the same scene over and over, brightly coloured portraits and landscapes. Experimenting with the different effects, Hockney finds the iPad useful to set up palettes of colour.

In an exhibition of his work, digital displays rotate in a darkened room, showing the evolution of a plate of oranges, stroke after stroke. Hockney experiments with multi-display point-of-view videos that drive you down country lanes or a video installation of eighteen screens that feature a stage of jugglers, a kind of digital cubism. Hockney claims that, “artists will use any tool available”. The old masters had all kinds of secret technology, such as parabolic mirrors that could project images on to canvas. Does this make the work less artistic?

When it comes to staging an event, there are some aspects that simply cannot be cheated at; that genuinely involve artistic flair. Flower arranging springs to mind although this particular specialism can tend to cause technology a few challenges. Water and technical equipment aren’t the greatest of friends. Lighting is a less hazardous mix. Painting with light can transform a space, a mood and a message. (Although bulbs can get hot and cause a bit of table decoration wilting.) Personally, what gets me really excited are the possibilities of on screen content. Event concepts are drawing more and more from the art of film making where the boundaries of projection are widening every day.

I started 2015 with a very big movie screen in a superstructure of a cinema. A three-day global leadership meeting for one of the world’s largest media organisations within the circular walls of the bfi Imax, Waterloo. It was an explosion of content, which needed to be collated and co-ordinated into a digitally projected spectacle. It wasn’t a case of plugging a few usb sticks into London’s, Britain’s, Europe’s biggest screen and pressing go. We designed and developed a way of layering the presentation area to give it visual depth, interest and maximum impact. Just like Hockney’s oranges, which looked bright and simple, highlights, shadows and subtleties were added long after the piece could have stood on its own. The content at this event continuously evolved across the three days. While layer after layer was added to the initial composition, it was also our challenge to facilitate its seamless presentation and turn concept into creation. It was a juggling act across near enough eighteen screens.

It was the hold your breath moment when the 400 delegates, adorned with 3D glasses, watched our bespoke fly through of London, that I realised how much the worlds of art, design and technology are merging in the events arena, enabling organisers to tell their story and inspire their guests with the spirit of their brand. The edges are blurring. When you get the composition right, the event is enhanced; lines are sharpened and the detail is defined. The future is going to be all about mixing it up with a diverse palette, leaving guests with a vibrant visual memory of their event experience. I love being a part of it.

Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor

ConferenceNews Guest Author

Conference News hosts great guests on its pages. Our Blog section is the collection of the best opinions in the UK and international events industry.

ConferenceNews Guest Author


ConferenceNews Guest Author

Conference News hosts great guests on its pages. Our Blog section is the collection of the best opinions in the UK and international events industry.

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