DIGITAL ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY
© By Bill Marder 8/28/09
© By Bill Marder 8/28/09
COMPUTERS AND ART
I've seen many, many digital photographs that took my breath away. Artistry and expression can take root in any medium of art. It generally is inherent in those individuals that seek and find it within themselves and can express it in their art. The general assumption today is that any image that has come through the digital manipulation mill is conceived as if the computer has done all the work, even if there was no computer involved.
Traditionally, canvas has long been the arena in which paint works were displayed, whereas paper in the past was the medium used for the photograph. Depending on the role that the computer plays in the creative process, we must distinguish between the use of the computer as a medium or as a tool to produce art, and the use of the computer as an originator of art.
Photography as an art goes beyond the computer screen. Once the pictures have been uploaded onto a computer, you can use your tools to do whatever you like with them. After the photographer or artist generates his idea, his artistic compulsions take over and that’s what makes each picture unique. Between the canvas, camera and the computer, a lot of artistic inputs can be added.
The computer, in other words, can no longer be described as an optical medium, as it is not designed to process images only. All the differences between different medias used are leveled out, regardless of whether the digital computer transmits sounds or images.
Digital Art have also affected the role that the artist plays in the creative process. Contemporary artists are now embracing the use of this new technology for their creative work. Using the computer as a medium to display their works, digital artists can reach a global audience through their Web sites or through the sites that museums and art galleries have created for their exhibitions. Artists who work with the new media tend to share experimental attitudes open to changes and they often find themselves creating a new languages to express their particular art forms.
Artists are now using the computer as an instrument to reveal their art. However, a new dimension of the computer artist is the portrait of the artist as a programmer: an artist with a new creative strategy that is the one of writing computer programs that generates digital art. Computers are widely used by artists as tools, or even as imaginative aids. Computer music makes use of sounds and allows composers to experiment with computer-generated chords or phrases that they might not have ever discovered by themselves. In the same way, computer graphics or computer animations sometimes produce images of fascinating beauty, and allow human artists to create brand new types of visual effects.
MAKING OF THE FINAL PRINT
The process of making a digital image involves just as many decisions as any darkroom print. The fact that the computer stores those decisions for you so that they can be repeated doesn't change that. Should an original Ansel Adams or Edward Weston print prepared and made by Adams or Weston himself have any more value over one produced by a technician under his supervision? Many so-called 'original' photographic prints are actually made by intermediaries anyway. It is only the final result that matters.
What qualifies someone as a "real" photographer? Am I a false or imitation photographer because I have a cheap camera? Or even less of a photographer because I use Photoshop? The digital camera, computer and software are no different than a light sensitive gelatin plate, pinhole in a box, vaseline on a lens, or a circle of paper or on a stick for dodging... they are all tools for creating and manipulating an image.
Photography is all about 'the push of a button'. While yes, it would be cool to have a print actually handled and processed by a favorite photographer - the value being the provenance of the print itself, not the image on it - but once the proof of who made the print is lost or forgotten, the only important thing is the image, isn't it? As for manipulating an image with software, it's like playing a piano. Some are plunking out a bad rendition of Chopsticks with their images while others handle the software with the expertise of a virtuoso. The end result is all that counts.
SELLING AND BECOMING FAMOUS?
Art and Photography is subjective. Why does everyone seem to forget this? If YOU like it, then it's art. If you like it and you BUY it then more power to you and the artist that made it. These middlemen (and women) who deal art and try and dictate what is and isn't art are just only interested in selling.
There is no digital divide at the 'high' end of galleries, collectors and
Institutional programming. Where it does exist is from the 'low' end through to the middle. At the low to middle end I don't find it surprising that digital is still discriminated against. I mean this is the segment where an oil painting is still more valued than an acrylic, let alone a poor watercolor.
Photography is still not accepted in the same way as painting. So given all this, is there any wonder that digital has issues in this market. You question why the sympathetic critics, curators, etc haven't helped to get this clarified. When you are dealing with the general public, when it comes to art, it is a slow process. Look at the blockbuster shows at the major institutions. Things like old masters and now up to the impressionists draw huge crowds. Go more modern than the impressionists and you don't get such huge turnouts.
The reality is that I don't see it changing as quickly at the low end. It is a filter down process. The general public typically doesn’t buy photography or paintings to decorate their homes, unless it is family photos, posters, or inexpensive prints.
The reality is also that, at the low to middle levels, it is really hard for even an oil painter to make a full living off their art. Some do, and one has to have a really good look at how they do it, but most have to support their art habit with a real job. If that is the case with the other mediums of art what does that say for the expectations of those now using the new medium of digital art? I am not being a pessimist, just trying to be a realist. The art world is REALLY tough to make it in. Like everything else, you have to look at what the successful ones are doing different and model after them, if one is really willing to put in the time, dedication, learning and effort required. Even then you might only succeed and become famous with luck, meeting the right people under the right circumstances. If not you can wait until long after you are dead, as only then will you definitely have more time. The easy way is to enjoy doing your art for your own satisfaction and pleasure.