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Shell National Student Arts Competition Virtual Art Interact: Digital tech is creative wave of the future

The Shell National Student Art Competition (NSAC) Virtual Art Interact kicks off with a timely theme in its first leg. The workshop encourages the next generation of artists to showcase their talent while embracing innovations in the next creative wave. (Top Left-Right): Serge Bernal, Pilipinas Shell Vice President for Corporate Relations; Jopet Arias, NSAC Alumnus and Winner. (Bottom Left-Right): Aldrine Alarcon, Multimedia Artist; Andrei Pamintuan, Creative Director of FringeMNL and Pineapple Lab.

Multimedia, NFT, crypto art, and other digital innovations show the next step to creativity, both in the art world and greater society. In the recent Virtual Art Interact, which is part of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation’s 55th National Student Arts Competition (NSAC), emerging young artists and past winners exhibited how their non-traditional canvases can inspire visions of the future.

For this leg in 2022, digital-savvy artists showed how embracing emerging technologies can enhance their artworks, illustrating this year’s theme of “Sulong Sining” (or “Art Advances”).  Serge Bernal, PSPC Vice President for Corporate Relations, expounded, “The theme really encourages students to share their creative talents and showcase the bright future that they envision through the arts. “Sulong Sining” also embodies Shell’s role as the country’s partner in nation-building under the overall campaign of “Keep Moving the Philippines Forward.”

The conversation between art masters and students tackled topics ranging from pre-historic art and its evolution in modern times, the exploration of crypto art, to virtual or augmented art experiences. Virtual Art Interact also broke ground by tackling a ‘commercial’ topic: how minting and NFTs play a key role in the ownership of artworks and accommodating investors and buyers online, another consequence of the digital revolution.

Breaking boundaries

“As society progresses, so do art distribution and ownership,” digital illustrator Jopet Arias shared other changes unfolding in Philippine art today: “Now, anyone in the world, with the use of Web 3 and the internet, we can start a new revolution of what art is and how we can explore the beauty and grandiosity ng mga bagay na pinapahalagahan natin [of the things we value].”

Multimedia artist Aldrine Alarcon spoke about the rising digital art opportunities that are empowering artists to break through traditional boundaries: “Bago ka makapasok sa mga galleries, kailangan mo ng maraming portfolio at connections [Before, as an artist, you’d need a portfolio and connections to have an exhibit in art galleries.]. But by the power of web 3, hindi mo na kailangan lahat yun, kasi [you don’t need that anymore because everything is] decentralized. This breakthrough also impacts regional markets, expanding the influence of the artist beyond his immediate community.

Openness and learning

Another kind of breakthrough that digital art achieves is capturing the motion of images and making them timeless, which was shown in Arias’ one-hour workshop on animated Graphics Interchange Formats (GIFs). As he put it,  “Finally we can capture the dimension of time in art and one of the easiest ways to capture it is through GIF. Any artist can explore it and how to capitalize the moment.”

Studio artist Veronica Peralejo affirmed how digital art broadened her horizons:  Sobrang interested talaga ako to learn about NFTs and how it can apply to my art practice in the future.”

Aprille Tijam, Senior Manager of Exhibitions and Collections at Ayala Museum, affirmed that the so-called traditional art world does need to look into the new kind of online art form.  “It’s something the museum industry is also trying to understand because it impacts several layers of managing in terms of collections and the art forms being presented,” she said. “We are all trying to adjust to the many new innovations especially when the pandemic struck and we all pivoted to online and virtual programming.”

NSAC will hold two more legs of Virtual Art Interact: “Rooting Your Work in Philippine Folklore and Mythology” on October 29; and “Designing Your Future / How to Make a Living from Your Artistic Practice” on November 5, 2022.

As the event ended, Alarcon encouraged the young artists, saying, “Ginagawa yung pag-initiate ng Web 3 community because we enjoy art – both physical and digital. So para sa mga papasok dito, sa mga students, sa mga bago lang, enjoy nyo lang siya. Kung nag-wawatercolor ka, acrylic o photography, ang digital art huwag natin itsapwera.”  [“For those who want to enter art, the students and newbies, just enjoy it. If you are doing watercolor, acrylic, or photography, don’t put digital art aside.”]

The longest of its kind in the country, Pilipinas Shell’s National Student Arts Competition has served as a platform to celebrate the accomplishments of young visual artists and open to them various opportunities in the art world.  Since 2020, it annually holds the Shell Virtual Art Interact to further champion visual art in the country.

To learn more about Shell NSAC and Virtual Art Interact, click on shell.com.ph/juanartnation

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