iPads and Paradigm Shifts

How long does it take for people to start viewing things differently? How long does it take for a paradigm shift to occur? Questions close to my heart in much of my work, and so I was fascinated to read an article on iPad magazines by Khoi Vinh, the ex-design director of the New York Times online edition.

Vign considers that publishers of iPad online versions are simply doing online what they do in print, and so they are failing to take account of the very real conceptual differences and possibilities of online publications. They have basically failed to see the paradigm shift which is occurring.

When I bought my iPad, I was excited by the possibilities of reading magazines online, and I loved the idea of the clean page layout uninterrupted by widget buttons and adverts. But that was before my mindset shift, before I discovered social media, and before I realised that we are now inhabiting a world of exchange of information. Despite their aesthetic appeal, I can’t easily share anything I encounter in my iPad publications. The extra time it takes to go and search for an online web version is just too much time.

I am quite sad about this, actually, because I always considered myself a happy Luddite when it comes to real paper, and I was surprised at how easily I took to the clean iPad publications. I don’t like the messiness of viewing articles on websites, but I increasingly find myself there because of my own changing mindset.

Much of my art practice is digitally generated, and one of the huge challenges for me is to experiment with the  digital painting software as an entirely new medium, and not just a convenient way of carrying round a virtual sketchbook  in my iPad with every imaginable tool and colour available at the press of a button. iPad art has had some very recent publicity with the recent opening of David Hockney’s exhibition in Paris. Many people seem to be very excited by this ‘innovative’ art. Well, it makes use of iPhone and iPad technology, true, but that is technological innovation at work, not the art. Hockney exploits the technology as a convenience, but no more, and it is no huge breakthrough in contemporary terms. They are essentially lovely drawings which happen to have been drawn digitally, but could, with more mess and hassle, been drawn just as easily on paper.

Hockney, along with The Times iPad edition, and me more often than I like to admit, are simply not yet truly exploiting the possibilities of this new digital age.


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