Digital Art Debate

digital art

Recent visits to the Pixel Revolution digital art exhibit at the Cultural Center have inspired me to experiment with some digital art paintings of my own.  These are a few samples of recent creations.  If you would like to see more of my digital paintings, visit http://hobbithousestudio.com/gallery.htm or stop by Hobbit House Studio at 1 Wonson Street (behind Sailor Stan’s).  If you haven’t yet seen Pixel Revolution, you can still stop by the Cultural Center at Rocky Neck and see it through June 1.

There is debate within the art world as to the validity of digital art as a fine art form, not unlike the debate that raged until not that long ago over the validity of photography as a fine art form.

“As we become a society increasingly engulfed in computer technology, there seem to be changes in the art world, specifically in regards to digitalization.  Since the 1970s, art produced digitally has risen into the fine arts realm.  For example, as opposed to manual photography which catches chemical changes on film, digital photography uses electronic sensors that record the desired image as electronic data.  A major advantage of digital photography is the ability to manipulate the image using computer programs and software.  Many different effects can be utilized, increasing the tools the artist has to express their vision.  Aside from digital photography, digital art contains multiple other forms, such as photo painting, digital collage, integrated digital art, virtual reality, hologram, fractals, and more.

Should these computerized and mechanical processes be considered art? A painter must learn to control the brush with paint, and a digital artist must master the technology needed to produce an image. Technology is used by the artist to show emotion and intent to the viewer rather than just data processing. It seems strange that there are debates about digital art’s validity as an art form when there are so many similarities between using a paintbrush as a tool and a computer.

To get some insight, let’s look at another art form that was criticized when it first emerged.

Photography as an art form has long been debated.  Like digital art, many thought that photography was a purely mechanical process. Along the way, photographers came together to fight for respect in the art world.  In 1902 Alfred Stieglitz formed a group known as the PhotoSecession, which hosted exhibitons, created publications, and advocated for photography to be recognized as a fine art.  Its magazine, Camera Works, was extremely influential in showing how photography could be used to create artworks of quality artistic vision.

It was not until 1910 at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York that the first photography collection was put on show in a museum.  Even after, photography was constantly subjected to criticism.  In 1955 the MoMA displayed an important photography exhibit which allegedly proved photography as a form of fine art. The first major exhibition of photography, The Fmaily of Man exhibited over 500 photographs by 273 artists from around the world. After this exhibit, photography began to flourish in the art world. Just as photography had a difficult time as a new art form, digital art is now being challenged.”  http://nbmaa.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/digital-art-the-skeptics-and-the-supporters/

I personally believe digital tools give artists more freedom to express themselves, and that the time and effort required to master these tools and techniques is as great as it is to master traditional art tools and techniques.  I have spent 15 years learning to master Photoshop, and I still don’t consider myself a master at it.  I also believe that had the great painting masters of bygone days had access to the technological tools available to artists today, they most certainly would have used them.  Just imagine what Leonardo da Vinci would have created with Photoshop!

The debate still rages over Johannes Vermeer’s use of the camera obscura (the cutting edge technology of his time) in the creation of his works.

“Certain aspects of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings which are seldom if ever seen in the work of other artists of the time have puzzled art historians ever since the artist’s rediscovery in the mid-1860s. Even before the turn of the century, one critic suspected that such anomalies were not merely stylistic quirks, but evidence that Vermeer had used some sort of mechanical device fitted with lens or mirrors. After decades of protracted debate, the art history community has come to believe that the device was the camera obscura.

Camera_Obscura_box18thCentury copy

From an optical standpoint, the camera obscura is a simple device which requires only a converging lens and a viewing screen at opposite ends of a darkened chamber or box. It is essentially a photographic camera without the light-sensitive film or plate. Only in size and decoration has it changed since the 16th century.” http://www.essentialvermeer.com/camera_obscura/co_one.html#.U4Xyb_ldXDU

I am curious to know what people out there think about digital art and its validity as a fine art form.  What say ye –  yea or nay?

Thanks Otto Laske for sending me off on this creative journey and Charlie Carroll for tipping me off to Vermeer’s use of technology.

Visit http://museumofdigitalfinearts.wordpress.com/ to see collections of digital works of some of the most brilliant new artists of the modern age.

E.J. Lefavour

http://www.hobbithousestudio.com

9 comments

  • Art has no boundaries. There is no right or wrong. It can be made of any material or thought (as in the case of conceptual art).

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  • It wasn’t so long ago that the Rockport Art Association finally recognized photography as a fine art.

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    • RAA was actually the “until not that long ago…” that came to my mind, although I’m sure there were and still are others. I don’t believe North Shore Art Association includes photographers in its artist membership or exhibits either, although I could be wrong.

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  • Love the new work EJ – the computer is just a different medium, it takes skill and creativity to create digital artwork and knowledge of color and composition is still needed to create the artwork plus mastery of the software. I hope people go over to your studio to see your work and also to the Pixel Revolution show at the Cultural Center put together by Otto Laske – it will open their eyes about digital art.

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    • Thanks James. Yes, I hope people get over to see the show before it ends Sunday. I know lots of people who have seen it have been blown away and inspired by it as I was.

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  • We sure have come way in the arts – remember the artist with all the tubes mixing and matching :-) Dave & Kim

    This one may bring back some memories also!

    Strawberry Alarm Clock “Sit With The Guru”

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