Digital art going mobile: the case of the iPad as ‘digital canvas’


Session Title:

  • Photography and Digital Imaging

Presentation Title:

  • Digital art going mobile: the case of the iPad as ‘digital canvas’




  • This paper explores the concept of ‘mobile digital art’ and the increasing use of tablet technologies to create works of art. The first generation iPhone and iPad were released consecutively back in 2007 and 2010, introducing the term ‘mobile’ to the concept of digital art. During the intervening period we have seen an exponential growth in the use of these devices, which have undergone a process of rapid evolution through the continuing release of new generations featuring improved hardware capabilities and software upgrades, often including the inclusion of bespoke drawing applications that are designed specifically to run on these operating systems and devices. This research will focus in particular on the use of the iPad tablet computer and its associated software as a tool for making creative works. Digital art is often used as a general term to describe a range of artistic works that use digital technology as a core element in the creative and/or presentation process, and this paper sets out to investigate where the act and process of creating art via mediums such as the iPad and iPhone fit within the practice of digital art. Key issues around the impact of mobility, locational specificity and networkability will be discussed in respect to the conceptual and creative influence they have on the work. Research undertaken around the personal insights of artists drawing via the iPad will be discussed to help reveal the relationship between the technical and artistic possibilities of the medium, such as the creation of a ‘hand-drawn’ aesthetics, implications for touch screen technologies, sharing and reworking of content, distribution and exhibition issues etc. We will also examine the notion of the iPad as a tool for performing digital art as well as focusing on the medium itself.