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We’ve only seen the Impressionist debuts of the Internet of Things
Visiting the post-impressionist gallery on the 2nd floor of Musée d’Orsay in Paris, I realized how rapidly painting in the late 19th century evolved.
However revolutionary it may have been, Impressionism was superceded fairly quickly. It rocked the boat in the 1860s, gained prominence in the 1870s, exhibiting 12 times between 1874 and 1886 in the Salon des Refusés (literally, the Exhibition of the Rejected), but by the end of the 1880s radically new styles and techniques were already emerging:
- Gauguin, Sérusier and other artists from Ecole de Pont-Aven were moving away from the representation of natural light and environment by casting a symbolist eye on their subject, getting rid of perspective and even experimenting with a cloisonnist style that will eventually lead to Picasso’s cubism a few decades later.
- Pointillists such as Seurat and Signac, without returning to the accuracy of traditional painting, were chasing a scientific way of representing the landscape by breaking it down into myriads of small color dots. A century later, dots would be called pixels and their technique would become the foundation of digital imaging.
Impressionists did more than creating a new style: they unleashed the creativity of future generations, giving them – consciously or not – permission to explore new ways mixing up art and science, experiment with new techniques that would become technologies, and eventually create new forms of human experience.
As I left the museum, I could not help thinking that what we’ve seen so far of the Internet of Things is only the impressionist debut of an explosion of creativity that is going to radically change our human experience in less than a generation.