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New Creativity Paradigms

Arts Learning in the Digital Age


Kylie Peppler

Commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, this book explores research indicating that youth are learning new ways to engage in the arts on their own time and according to their own interests. Digital technologies, such as production tools and social media, allow youth to create and share their art. Kylie Peppler urges educators and policy makers to take advantage of «arts learning opportunities» and imagine a school setting where young people are driven by their own interests, using tablets, computers, and other devices to produce visual arts, music composition, dance, and design. This book gives educators an understanding of what is happening with current digital technologies and the opportunities that exist to connect to youth practice, and raises questions about why we don’t use these opportunities more frequently.
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3. The New Digital Arts: Forms, Tools, and Practices


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When the May 2009 cover of The New Yorker featured Jorge Columbo’s “Hot Dog Stand,” a design he created on his iPhone using a $5 application called Brushes, it focused national attention on the way mobile devices are rapidly changing how people create and engage in the arts. The Brushes app is just one example of digital and mobile tools, many of them free, which inconspicuously blend artistic activities into everyday lives. From the visual and performing arts to gaming technologies, artists are using and adapting tools for creative expression and communication.

Older art forms have not only migrated into the digital realm, but they are also radically changing and expanding in response to new tools available for production. For example, tools enable novices to compose original music without using traditional instruments or having access to recording studios, as well as enable painters to mix virtual paint without paying for materials or gaining prior experience in art class. Although some people may fear that youths will abandon respected historical methods in favor of new digital media production practices, we argue quite the opposite. New technologies—whether offering lower-cost/higher-efficiency reincarnations of earlier media or creating forms that were not possible with analog tools—are designed to expand audience participation and appreciation of prior traditions.

To a certain extent, the evolution of every art form is inevitable whenever new media is introduced. Conversely,...

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