Searching throughout the Dictionary for the word «art» we find that, until the 18th century this term coincided with the concept of savoir-fair, meant as the human capacity to do something following rules, what today we indicate with the term technique. On the other side, the Dictionary informs us that technology comes from the Greek εχνολογία (tékhno-logía), literarily «the theoretical study of general problems regarding technique.» Association between the two seems to be written by destiny
Art has always been the expression of a new type of savoir faire in every place and throughout time; a modern perception of the world and its transformations while technology these days is becoming more and more an integral part of the modern world. It is only natural that technology supports many kinds of artistic expression and in many cases it acts as interpreter and/or tool for these very modes of creation.
Potentially, there is an infinity of examples supporting this case since, over the centuries, many renowned personalities have emerged: Leonardo da Vinci – the epitome of artist-technologist – and Canaletto who demonstrated how technology can be adapted to art by using a dark room to transfer the precision of the real world into his works, to name two. Evidence from the past can be gathered right up to the extremely abundant and complicated landscape of the 21st century in which the combination of technology and art is finding more and more junctions.
The first significant example of multiple applications of new technologies in the artistic field regards the delicate and complex issue of cultural heritage conservation. Since the web is connecting us at this very moment, it is only natural that we start from this area to examine and discover just how many different directions the connection between new technologies and the world of art can take.
Therefore, I would like to take the INCCA (International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art) into consideration as an example of how art and technology meet in applicative terms. In this case, they work together to create an international network of experts called in to collaborate with projects relating to cultural heritage conservation.
INCCA is a truly innovative national and international portal that is structured into a network of professionals in the field of modern and contemporary art management such as renovators, preservers, curators, chemists, biologists, archivists and art historians. These experts are involved in art preservation and are constantly gathering information through renovation data sheets and profiles, encounters and conversations with artists, scientific test results etc. However, they are not always able to thoroughly share their information with colleagues. In light of this missing element, an initiative was taken to form a network dedicated to uniting, sharing and preserving information regarding accumulated professional experiences in the specific realm of contemporary art.
Since its founding in 1999, INCCA has grown from 23 to over 1150 members from over 200 institutions in 64 different nations including Italy: in fact, our country has its own group made up of renovators, researchers, art historians etc. This group has been active on a national level since 2007.
The INCCA website contains information about projects, seminars, study days, bibliographies, graduate and doctorate theses along with a database divided by artist with information regarding his or her work, technique and renovation of listed works – not to mention publications of scientific test results, data sheets to help stage complicated installations, interviews etc.
Currently, there are over 1600 artists in the database. Each file concerning them can be updated and further developed by INCCA members in order to put any new information at the disposal of registered colleagues should they need it when working with any given artist. The common goal of the founding group and those on a national level is to encourage and propel research and development in the field of contemporary art conservation, making this portal an instrument that is potentially very useful. INCCA could be classified as a work in progress alongside the many other initiatives promoting art through modern technology.
2 Leonardo Da Vinci, photo via
3 Camera oscura, photo via