What Technology Should Be

Imagine this: You are in a room full of people. There is a table in the room with dishes and silverware on top of it. People talk at a regular volume, but when someone whispers into a microphone, there is a huge roar, causing the plates and dishes to crash to the ground. This is what Emily Kennerk’s piece “Whisper” does. (Stryker, 2015). It is a submission for ArtPrize Seven, and is just once example of how the art competition uses technology. While it is clear that those who organize ArtPrize are trying to keep up to date, with apps and contemporary pieces, the competition seems to be missing the mark on a huge part of technology: social media.

It is not that they do not try. In the last few years technology has played a huge role. Last year year the competition had extensive updates to both its website and app. It also included an interactive map, which told visitors about the Grand Rapids in general instead of just the art. (Woods,2014). While impressive, these improvements are for the people who already go to ArtPrize. To become better known and expand, ArtPrize must entice people who may not know about the competition. In today’s world, this would be done through social media, and it sort of seems like the ArtPrize tweets, posts, and pictures are failing.

ArtPrize does generate posts about itself. Every year there are hundreds of hashtags, tweets, and posts about the event. ArtPrize has even organized photo competitions in order to gain a large social media gathering. In 2011 viewers could win a camera if they took a picture of a piece and captioned it. They then would have to post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag ArtPrize. (Burch, 2011) While this may have increased their following on these networks, does not mean that people would then favorite, retweet, or like ArtPrize’s posts. For example, ArtPrize has 36,010 followers on Twitter, at https://twitter.com/ArtPrize,  as of today. They tweet multiple times a day but usually do not get more than a few favorites or an occasional retweet. With that many followers, that number should be a lot bigger. How will they expand if the people who follow them do not like their content enough to share it with their own followers? They have an arsenal of pictures and art that they could be Tweeting about, but instead use quotes from articles about the event. While they may be trying to promote those writing about them, it does not seem to be working in promoting themselves. For reference the Grand Valley State University Twitter , which can be found at https://twitter.com/GVSU has 32,249 followers, which is almost 4,000 less, as of today. However, scrolling through their tweets shows that they average many more retweets and favorites because they make their account interactive and image based.

ArtPrize is gearing itself towards technology, but using the latest technology is not the same as successfully using the latest technology. Their social media accounts need to improve if they want to become the Coachella of art. Below are some pictures that I would personally enjoy if I saw on social media. While simple, these images show some of the art being buit and an example of a non-official piece. They will help followers and friends alike not just see the atmosphere of ArtPrize, but help take their social media from a messy scream to a quiet but erupting whisper.


Artist’s work on a structure.


A stop sign is modified for a piece


Burch, Brian (Sep.18 2014) Sharing is Caring. ArtPrize Blog. Retrieved from http://www.artprize.org/blog/sharing-is-caring

Stryker, Mark (Sep. 30 2015) Quality is Up at ArtPrize 7; Don’t Miss These Works. Detroit Free Press Retrieved from http://www.freep.com/story/entertainment/arts/mark-stryker/2015/09/30/quality-consistency-continue-rise-artprize-7/72977152/

Woods, Jaenell (Sep. 4 2011) ArtPrize Launches 2014 Technology Suite. Art Prize Blog. Retrieved from https://www.artprize.org/blog/2014-technology-suite


Technology & ArtPrize

Last year the ArtPrize item I fell in love with was a line of chocolate bars. They had goofy names and weird ingredients, but where above all delightful. They weren’t an actual submission, but they won in my heart. I guess that’s what I thought of ArtPrize: simple but unique art pieces that ended up being delightful. The annual competition is having its seventh running year, with a $200,000 grand prize, multiple night events, and two rounds of voting to find the best.  (Associate Press, 2015)

Technology is huge in how ArtPrize is run. Each submission piece is given a code which viewers can text to a number or use online in order to vote. However, this year’s ArtPrize started with a hiccup. For six hours the mobile app and http://www.artprize.org/ were shut down, which made it impossible for viewers to vote unless they were already registered on the app. This was fixed, but took away from some of the new features which were added to the app in order to enhance the viewer’s experience. This year the new improved version of the app gave uses the ability to not only vote for a mobile devices, but get directions, see and make lists of what one is seeing, find venues, and get the latest news.  (Kaczmarczyk, 2015). While technology is important to voting, it seems to not be as important to the actual art.

When I visited ArtPrize.I couldn’t see technology anywhere. While I liked the paintings and crowds of people, I couldn’t find anything in the art that was technological. I knew the event used technology, but I wanted to go further than that. . For example, the map I followed at ArtPrize was on my phone. The way to vote for submissions was also from my phone .The votes already cast were on a huge electronic projector on a stage where people were decorating cars in order to win one.  I thought that was it. The technology at ArtPrize wasn’t in the art, but in the way that ArtPrize itself was presented. But then I entered the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art for a mysterious event.

The exhibit was called Sense. The UIC  had six artists create contemporary pieces based on hearing, touch, taste, and smell. (Becherer,  2015).The work took up the entire building, each level holding several pieces.  Only a few made me think of technology. The ground level of the building was a huge, 1970’s looking computer. It was titled Technician 3 and was by Charles Jevremovic. One could simply turn the nobs and put on head phones at any given turn. The whole room was filled with people, listening to the recordings all about the Cold War. The basement held an art piece that titled (extra)ordinary by Jihyun Hong. It was an entire room, but also had a movie screening next door about the artist’s ideas and how she brought the piece to life.  This exhibit made me realize that while the way ArtPrize is run may be reliant on technology, but so are some of the more modern pieces. The technology in ArtPrize is growing. Not only in how people vote and navigate, but as the world becomes more reliant on technology, so does art. It won’t be long before a chocolate bar is seen as just a chocolate bar and mediums like computers and screens flood the art world, from ArtPrize Seven and beyond.

Here are some of the pictures I captured during my visit.


A group is gathered around a car decorating contest near the center of ArtPrize.


A paper map, info sheet for Sense and voting info for  (extra)ordinary by Jihyun Hong.


Megan Dunn votes on her phone after visiting UICA.


Associated Press. (Sep. 23 2015). 7th Annual ArtPrize Competition Opens in Grand Rapids. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from http://www.freep.com/story/entertainment/arts/2015/09/23/7th-annual-artprize-competition-opens-grand-rapids/72669522/.

Becherer, Joe. (Sep. 25 2015) ArtPrize 2015 Venue Reveiw: UICA MLive Retrieved from http://www.mlive.com/artprize/index.ssf/2015/09/artprize_2015_venue_review_uica.html

Kaczmarczyk, Jeffery. (Sep. 21 2015) 8 things you can do with ArtPrize 2015 App. MLive Retrieved from http://www.mlive.com/artprize/index.ssf/2015/09/artprize_2015_has_an_app_for_navigating_the_exhibition_500000_competition.html