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 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

Becherer, Joe. (Sep. 25 2015) ArtPrize 2015 Venue Reveiw: UICA MLive Retrieved from

Kaczmarczyk, Jeffery. (Sep. 21 2015) 8 things you can do with ArtPrize 2015 App. MLive Retrieved from