A long time ago, I wrote about some artists that have applied the ideas of mass customization and personalization for their works. Now, a much larger initiative has started. Called A.R.T. (for "Art-ReThought"), Donald Rattner, an artist turned architect, has created a new online shop for customizable modular art. He also recently launched a sophisticated new blog on modular design and architecture.
"Is art still art if the artist’s hand never touched it?" This somehow is the key question Rattner's site asks, and while he definitely has answered it with "Yes", I am not so sure if his offerings really meet the definition of "art" for many people who may call this more "decoration".
But the lines are blurring. And in any case, Rattner perfectly illustrates how digital innovations in manufacturing are impacting art and design. Mass customization, co-creation, modular design, production on demand, digital design, robotics, and other computer-driven technologies are changing the way things are made (and as a result, the way art is thought about).
Rattner calls this mixture “The New Industrialism". "As with so many things in our lives, a lot of the historical attitudes toward the creative disciplines are falling away under the influence of modern technology. For instance, today people are demanding more involvement in the creative experience, whether it’s collaborating in the design of their own clothes or specifying a new computer for purchase. Eventually we’ll see that sensibility infiltrate the art world, which until now has reserved the right to creation to the artist alone." Rattner recently is quoted in a press release. There is a great illustration of the "new" and the "old" art in the catalogue for his customizable items (download).
In his online shop (with a small configurator), he is selling Wall Art, a hanging modular wall sculpture system that comes in square, reticular and rhombus modules and Shelf Art, a simple, expensive but wonderful personalization option for home libraries (I love those!). Nice, fredh idea — and a further sign of the broad appeal of mass customization.