The art of Apple

Fleur Doidge
17 April, 2008
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Apple computers have for decades now been considered popular with the creative and artistic among us, and by some to be even identified with or emblematic of creativity. Artists all over the computer-buying world have pledged allegiance to Apple, whether they admit it or not, partly because the brand is, rightly or wrongly, often seen as synonymous with, at the very least, a certain flair or style. Accolades for the design of such Apple successes as the iMac and the iPod have cemented and developed this notion in the minds of many.

There’s probably nothing specifically arty about Apple machines, no more surely than for any other computer. Yet it is true that recent decades have seen more artistic and creative activity facilitated by the world of information technology. Kids who might have once studied to become cartoonists or signwriters are now computer-aided designers of various stripes — whether working in an advertising studio or publishing company, they use their love of colours and eye for trends to produce beauty both for its own sake and for commercial purposes.

In June’s Australian Macworld, we will profile Melbourne artist and developer Ray Cologon. Cologon has been around on the Australian scene for a few decades now, and he is unusual among recognised artists — that is, ones recognised as such by others as well as by themselves (his sculpture “Room for Dreaming” won the online International Art Award in 2002) — in that he doesn’t confine himself to just one medium. Cologon is highly educated, and he writes poetry.

He also makes music, sculpts, draws and has done performance art. So he could be described as a kind of renaissance man for the 21st century — not only does he involve himself and have a background in the arts but also in more prosaic, technical pursuits such as information technology.

Cologon told AMW that some people might find his diversity of creative interest odd, but he found there was a natural partnership between what is conventionally known as "the arts" and activities like developing for FileMaker. "They are different in some key ways, but there is also quite a lot of cross-over," he said. "So I’m also proud of the contributions I’ve been able to make to the ‘art’ of FileMaker development."

No one doubts that application development can require creative solutions and lateral, imaginative thinking — but it isn’t "fine art". Yet more and more computer-based applications are identified with popular arts, especially as the younger generations — sometimes termed "digital natives" — increasingly use computers (some of us still want to say "cyberspace") as the most obvious and natural playground for their own creativity, often ditching the notepads and art folders beloved of keen doodlers and dreamers last century.

Where that will take the arts and creativity in general for the rest of this century and the next we can only begin to imagine. But the possibilities look, if not infinite, at least myriad, for Apple and other IT providers who want to tap into the opportunities afforded thereby.

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