For most of history, great art tended to be inseparable from its physical setting. There was no Sphinx without Giza, no Creation of Adam without the Sistine Chapel, no Hamlet (in performance, at least) without the Globe Theater. Only in the age of reproduction (first mechanical, then digital) did we cut that once inseverable tie—culminating in our present era, when we can see and hear and watch whatever we want from wherever we are.
The irony, though, is that our mobile devices, even as they further untether our consumption of art, are nevertheless attuned to location in a historically unprecedented way. The smartphone, unlike the sheaf of paper, the marble block, the concert hall, the television, the PC, or any other previous medium for creativity, possesses an intrinsic awareness of where it is. So in the mobile era, as we consume more creativity on our phones, we have the potential to add a whole new layer to art. We can enjoy digital art that’s imbued with a sense of place, and—far more important—we can once again imbue places with a sense of art.
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