I’ve long joked that all modern films should feature at least one character constantly dicking around with a smartphone in every single scene. It’s not really a joke, though: this is the new reality. High technology and low attention spans are such pervasive aspects of 21st-century living that any realistic depiction of such would have to include them. Now, a new art project is updating classic paintings to reflect this very condition.
Korea-based illustrator Kim Dong-Kyu has been recreating famous works of art like “The Girl With the Pearl Earring,” with some not-so-subtle revisions. Each piece in Dong-Kyu’s “Art x Smart” project presents its subject as it would probably appear today–with Apple products in use. It’s a telling portrait of how a Renaissance aesthetic might appear when applied to a generation that can’t sit still.
Tossing these modern-day gadgets into famous historical paintings underscores just how ubiquitous they are in our lives. Although some of the images sport gratuituous inclusions that hit the viewer over the head with the point (see the Picassso), others suggest accurate representations of The Way We Live Now. Who’s to say, for instance, that the angel in Diego Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus wouldn’t be holding up an iPad, instead of a mirror, for the woman in the painting to gaze at?
The fact that the devices in each instance appear to be Apple products might strike some as an attempt at viral advertising. Considering the aura of loneliness and disconnection that now hangs over these paintings, it seems more like a dig at Apple, rather than a message the company would want to put out itself. We consumers appear to be doing a fine job of that for them already.
Have a look through the paintings in the gallery above.