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December 17, 2018

Art: How digital technologies are transforming art

What is good art? I once watched a teenager’s reaction to art in a London gallery. The young man was completely indifferent to artwork by one of the greatest masters, Titian (the 16th century painter), but was completely taken by that of Damien Hurst, one of the most innovative artists of our time. 

Truth is, good art is in tune with its time. It closely allies with the ideas and dynamics of its contemporaries and, therefore, has a strong transformational impact.  

That is why I believe in the fusion of traditional art and digital technologies. Such fusion makes our interaction with art, novel and exiting.  It offers a new artistic experience and, thus, has a future. Computer technologies ‘enrich and vivify other creative disciplines’, says Phil Gomm, computer animation course leader at the University for the Creative Arts. 

Transformation exhibition

Recently, the MASK School for Creativity and Innovation - a pioneering organisation that trains young people in creativity (resourceful problem solving, not just artistic skills) - initiated a project in collaboration with a leading institution in art and design education, the University for the Creative Arts (UCA).

Seven young Kenyans, winners of the Kenyan creativity competition the MASK Prize, and six UCA computer animation graduates, created a stunning series of animations, titled ‘Transformation/Mabadiliko’. Responding to the Kenyans’ drawings, paintings and photographs, the UCA students expanded on its ideas, meaning, colours and shapes. The purpose was to show how digital technologies transform the art production and our interaction with art. 

In order to allow the communication between the artists in the two countries, a blog was set up ( to facilitate the creative exchange. The project revealed the exciting possibilities of artistic partnerships over media and space. “Working on this project opened for me the whole new reality, art became a whole new concept! Brilliant!” said Edwin Wainana, 18, a young artist from Kenya. 

The ‘Transformation/Mabadiliko’ is exhibited at some of the leading art galleries in the UK:

Zandra Rhodes Gallery of the UCA in Kent (March 11-April 22 ) and at one of the leading public galleries: 

The Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate (April 12-May 22 ).  

The animation series will be shown as part of the larger show of the MASK Prize work.  

The animations will also be shown in Nairobi during the 2016 MASK Prize award ceremony at the Michael Joseph Art Center on June 23 at 2pm (its free, all are welcome). 

You can see the animations now at this link:


What is computer animation technology?

Computer animation encompasses a variety of techniques. 2D animation tends to focus on image manipulation while 3D animation builds virtual worlds in which characters and objects move and interact. 

2D animation has many applications, including Analog, Flash, and PowerPoint animation; objects are created using bitmap or vector graphics. 

3D animation uses 3D scanned objects, objects that are modelled with the help of a 3D mesh (net) and a ‘skeleton’ that control the mesh, or objects obtained through motion capture (model wears a special suit that allow computers to replicate a person’s movement).  Autodesk Maya is a leading 3D animation software. 

‘Transformation/Mabadiliko’ animator Ethan Shilling, for example, used a Maya tool to turn a 2D image into a virtual ‘breathing’ sculpture in the animation ‘Dream’. Emily Clarkson in the animation ‘Greener pastures and the Colours of Youth’ built ‘skeletons’ for each element of Churchill Ongere’s original artwork - the Nose, Lips, Eye and a Leg - to allow them to move in time and to music.   


Alla Tkachuk is the founder of the MASK Prize, a creativity competition with prizes for schools and young people in Kenya. 

Entries to the 2016 MASK Prize are now closed. 

Details on: www.mobileartschoolinkenya.

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