As the elite of the Italy began to adopt the philosophies of humanism, there was this great shift in focus towards individual excellence, education, civic duty, and a revival classical knowledge starting with Greek and Roman art and architecture. Plato's and Aristotle's, among others, works were copied and spread, changing the the Italian society's perspective from an other-worldly to an earthly-observation. These ideas fueled many fields of interest into not only new forms of expression, but innovations of science and technology as well. Once the printing press was invented, more books were in production, then more schools were built, and more ideas began to proliferate and be expanded upon. The wealth of Italy, particularly the Medici family, helped finance art and architecture during the 15th century. If you were to just follow the money, then you get the sign of the times. So artist were getting paid exuberant amounts of money to create incredible pieces of work, if not history. And as David Hockney speculates, artists also benefited from the use of technologies that ultimately lead to the invention of the photography. Either way, new visual perspectives were being used by artists; more naturalism, foreshortening, mythological subjects, and so forth. Essentially, humanism spread new chains of thought, that brought about inventions, that spawned innovations in the form of expression and art. The point is that everything that happened during the 15th century was fueled by a societal rebirth (Why, it's the Renaissance of course!).
And there is still a connection between certain ideas, technology, and education that exits today. Skipping over the several centuries between the 15th century to now, you can only imagine the numerous discoveries and inventions that were created during that time (ex: Buddhism's rise in the late 60's early 70's, beatnik poetry, and Woodstock for one). This century's focus is on digital technology, individualism, and disconnected connectedness. Particularly within the last several decades, the advancement of technologies has impacted the arts both graphically and digitally. Internet used to be a utensil for putting snail mail to shame. Now, newspaper media is hanging on for dear life with the rise of internet news sources and blogs. The way society seeks out information has shifted to online resources like Google and Wikipedia. The rise of text messaging within this generation, at this moment in time, compared to the decline of those that still call one another, is a sociological phenomena. Creative software has altered the way photographers and graphic artists manipulate and create their work. Further still the iPhone, where all the above mentioned is at a person's fingertip and whim, alters the way that people choose to communicate with each other (whether it's through a Facebook message or a Tweet). While all this technology sometimes forces less confrontation and infuses disconnection, there's still an element of shared information that proliferates through the Internet and we'll see how it continues to do so in the future.