For all the talk about how art and technology are inextricably joined together in this enigmatic city, it only occurred to me today that I had never, in six years of living here, been to an art gallery in Berlin before. Not that I’m particularly a great art lover, but when we spend so much time talking about creativity, it’s strange that we don’t look more to the artist as a source of inspiration.
Not that that is a problem for Carter Cleveland, founder of Artsy, a platform dedicated to collecting and curating art from around the globe and making it available online. He was the focus of the first morning of hy! Berlin as 150 leading figures from the world of technology put their collective heads together ahead of the public event on Saturday. And what better way to appreciate all the talk about art then to have a guided tour of an exhibition by leading German sculptor Martin Honert?
It was certainly a first for me at a tech conference. The impressively broad scale of the Hamburger Bahnhof venue helped set the scene as we were shown Honert’s work and how he incorporates themes form his West German childhood.
Afterwards we moved to a conference room for the first Q&A. Cleveland was subject to the oft-waspish tongue of the Kernel‘s Milo Yiannopoulos, who asked whether Artsy was really going to achieve the democratization of art – or whether, like many online music platforms which claim to help users discover more obscure, unknown artists, it could actually lead to the homogenization of art where everyone likes the same stuff – the Lady Gaga of art.
Cleveland, naturally, does not think that will happen, and I agree with him. The truth is, maybe art as a whole is a relatively niche interest whereas the same can be said in music only for some sectors – opera, say, or death metal. Not everyone is an art fan, but the vast majority of us listen to some kind of music.
I can’t imagine I’ll be spending too much time in Berlin’s many art galleries in the near future, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider the creative process surrounding art when we set about coming up with ideas for the future in technology.
Having said that, it’s also important to see through the guff – even after an explanation, I still couldn’t see the hidden meaning behind a sculpture of a table that looked, to me, like nothing more than a table.
Maybe I’m just a cultural heathen – but while I may not know much about art, I know what I like.
hy! Berlin is continuing today and tomorrow, where startups will battle it out for €200,000 worth of prizes.