Developers were invited to use their skills for a chance to win a production budget of £25,000 by creating a new art project which – yes – was required to used at least one Google technology, whether languages, toolkits, platforms and APIs.
The commission was, Google announced excitedly, part of a whole new movement in art which they christened ‘DevArt’ – art which was ‘made with code, by developers that push the possibilities of creativity and technology’.
For anyone with any knowledge of art history, this claim comes across as somewhat tin-eared. Computer, or digital, art has been around for over 50 years: in the early 1960s Desmond Paul Henry and A. Michael Noll explored what artistic practices could be engendered through computer programs, and Manfred Mohr ran the first ever computer-generated art show in 1971. But pulling back to the wider history of arts patronage, and the relationship between technology and the arts, highlights that Google’s sponsorship might indeed usher forth a new form of artistic engagement – but not necessarily in the way that’s being presented.