BIG SHOTS IGNORE COLUMNIST.|
OR: YO, WHAT'S UP WITH DIGiTAL?
A Blog Report by Bruce Price
Bruce Price is a graduate of Princeton, author of four books and a life-long experimental artist, exclusively digital for the past eight years. He is based in Norfolk, VA.
Okay, this is the column where I bitch and moan. Why? Because there are powerful forces in the digital world that don't give a damn what I think. Yes, hard to believe! Naturally I want you to sympathize with me, and sneer in disdain at these powerful forces. I'm sure you want to, and I appreciate that, but we must be coldly professional here. These are big shots, as you'll see, whereas I'm just a talky artist. Not only that, I've been rejected by these powerful forces, not once but twice. First, by a show, and second, when I asked if they had a comment for this column. No, apparently they don't. What, just because I'm not the New York Times? Not that the old gray lady has anything to say as interesting as what I'm serving up. Question is, can my judgment be trusted? Well, let me make my case; i.e., present my digital vision, and we'll see how you feel.
THE BACK STORY--By 1997, I had my second computer, a PowerMac, I was spending thousands of hours experimenting, and my vision for the digital era was fully formed. A new kind of art would come from this machine. There was no point in having a camera and messing with photography--that was part of the past. There was no point in having a scanner and putting in stuff from the real world. That was adulteration. The point, it seemed to me, was to work on a blank screen--to use new pixels to make new art. I was sure that all digital artists would embrace this credo: digital art must be about the exploration of what had never been possible before. Oddly, some of the leading players didn't exactly share this vision. What?!
LACDA--What a thrill when I read about the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art. Even the names are startling, both names. LACDA....a wild woman from Latvia, no doubt. But my God, this place keeps having shows where half the stuff is photography. They even gave Best in Show to a woman whose work was--children, cover your ears--mostly PAINT. I don't get the point. I wrote to the director asking what's going on. Here's my email: 'LACDA calls itself a center for digital art but a lot of the art you show is basically photographic in nature or even more retro, sort of mixed media where digital is less than 50% of the art--is this because there isn't enough really good pure digital art being made? Or the owners really don't want to face making a sheep-from-goats decision? Or what? Your last solicitation welcomes photography that uses even a little digital. But almost all photography uses a little digital these days. There's photo and art galleries for this work, right? Why the adulteration? Why confuse the public? Or why not educate the public about how this new medium is different from what came before? The only answer I can come up with is that you don't find enough great digital art. Is that the case?'
As of press time, no comment.
BITFORMS--Oh so hip bitforms, in Manhattan and now Korea. Nothing could be cooler than this place. Think Soho. Right off the bat, about five years ago, they were ambitious enough to launch a big PR blitz. A long article got into my local paper. I was spellbound. Look, the digital revolution is happening! But something nagged. A lot of space was spent explaining and extolling a piece of 'digital art' that asked all the people entering a theater to turn in their cell phone numbers; at a designated time a computer would randomly call them. The resulting rings were the art. First, it almost had to be mere cacophony. But that's not my theoretical objection. A bunch of bingo ladies, sitting around a table at the local church, could dial those numbers--same randomness, same music. Digital not required. So where the hell is the digital art? Nowhere. It's pure conceptual art. (Of course, it's much cheaper to do with a computer but that's a secondary issue.) Here's what I wrote to the Director of Bitfoms: 'Do you think of the art in your gallery as primarily digital art or it is often/sometimes primarily conceptual art or modern art or hip Soho art or what? My own tendency when I'm shown digital art is to wonder, well, could that be done non-digitally or pre-digitally? If it could, then why call it digital art? Do you ponder the same questions?'
PURDUE UNIVERSITY GALLERIES--The art gallery at Purdue University had a very ambitious, very heavily promoted show in 2005 called Digital Concentrate. I eagerly entered and hoped to be selected. This show had a fancy booklet and several hifalutin essays, so I could really meditate on what had excluded me. Mainly it wasn't a digital art show. Everything was video and installation and conceptual art. So I sent this note to the director of the Purdue Gallery: 'It was a fine show; I'm sure people enjoyed it. But digital concentrate? What was concentrated? The ads, entry form and promo made me think that all the art would be focused on what digital can do. That the show would be, like me, engaged with pure digital. But to my eyes it seemed more a conceptual art show. Is this a trivial point? If you think so, say so. I'm just trying to stir up discussion. But I feel digital cannot be about the past. Wasn't that same sensibility big in the 1980's? Sure, the tools are often digital but they could as well have been movie cameras or projectors. It's idea art, right? Academia seems to love this. We look at it because there's a clever concept and because the execution is striking. Those seemed to me to be the first two requirements. Digital came in third. But many of those effects could have been done pre-digital. So where's the digital concentrate? That's my question.
------------ Wrapping up: I saw digital as NEW but these people shoehorned digital into ongoing agenda and categories. But, hey, maybe these big shots are just improvising day to day. An artist walks in with something new and interesting, digital was used at some point, so the gallery says, great, we love it. Should they be purists? I just have to state my suspicion that art history will look back at this as a period of dithering. When I see photographs at a digital art show, or conceptual art being called digital art, it feels to me like beer at a wine tasting....As for my vision, the one where this new medium must be about the exploration of what had never been possible before, well, I still think it's true. Technology keeps booming along. The 3D stuff gets more interesting. Great digital art won't be some crossbreed of previous artistic activities, some flashback or recap. You'll know you're looking into the future's crazy blue eyes....As for big shots, I'm sorry they didn't join the discourse. The public needs more discussion, not less. That's what I hope I'm doing here--pumping up the volume of the dialogue. ------------
Art by Cheryl Johnson
I started drawing at a young age but raised a family before beginning my art career. I graduated from a local art college with my degree in 2000. The past year, I have written,illustrated and self published eleven children's books.I was introduced to digital drawing less than two years ago and I have found it one of the most magical and freeing tools I've ever put my hand and mind to. I have much to learn, but as I am self- taught in this media,I know I have come a long way in a short time.I still draw and paint in a traditional medium for art shows and clients but the world of digital art is seductive and vast. I'll be living in it most of the time for years to come.
I started learning about Art even before I could read and I'm always learning since then.
Multiple techniques and mediums, never ending colours, contrasts, lights, shades, traditional and digital.
Everything inspires and motivates me to draw and paint.
Golden Old Memory
GOT AN OPINION' CLICK HERE.
Let's hear it for the blog
DON WELCOMES YOUR ART
MUSEUMS, COMMUNITIES, GALLERIES|
Digital Art Gallery Online
Digital gallery of best pictures and photos from portfolios of digital artists.
Digital Art Served
Soho Arthouse (Soho Gallery For Digital Art)
DAM - Digital Art Museum
Los Angeles Center for Digital Art
Museum of Computer Art
Digital Art Online
Museum of Digital Fine Arts
Digital Arts: California
by Janet Parke
Janet Parke is long associated with Ballet Memphis (in Tennessee) as choreographer, administrator, and dance school teacher and principal. She has also long been an established fractal artist who who has won many prizes for her work and whose prints have been exhibited and collected widely. She was one of the first to master the complex fractal program, UltraFractal, and provided the online fractal community with a series of tutorials on use of the program. Her fractals have stylistic integrity and are carefully composed of dramatic fractal forms enhanced by a strong, subtle palette of warm, rich colors. The fractals exhibited here were all drawn in UltraFractal.
Hitchcock Meets Warner Bros.
Art by Renata Spiazzi
I was introduced to the computer in 1991, and as soon as I discovered the potential of the digital tool I decided that I was not going to try and do with it an oil painting, a watercolor or a wood cut. A new tool deserved a new art of its own.
I investigated the possibilities of taking advantage of what the programs written by special programmers could give me. And starting with a gradient, a doodle or a fractal formula and transforming them with the use of filters, I develop most of the time, abstract or non ? objective compositions.
I am still of the same opinion, and even though I have never been able to show in a Gallery. I keep on doing it because I am sure eventually this new art will be accepted.
The reason for this delay I think is due to the fact that anyone with no knowledge of the rules of art can develop with the computer something that may look to him/her like a masterpiece! And the gallerist, also, not well versed in it, is shy about accepting it!
When I had my shows in Italy and in France I had no problem. A work of art is a work of art, they said. Why? The public there is knowledgeable. And the sooner we reinstall art classes in the public schools, the sooner people will understand. We have rules in Sport, and we have rules in Music, we have rules in everything we do so why should we not have rules in painting, sculpture and printmaking?
A building built without rules would fall apart, so does a painting!
I keep on making digital art because I believe eventually it will be accepted. And I create landscapes, and flowers and places no one has seen before.
What are they? People ask. And my answer is: When I am creating an image I am really dreaming of a new world, a new landscape no one has been there yet. I take advantage of the surprise element and keep on adding until I am happy with the results.
Some viewers try to see things in my creations. I am not looking for what I have already met in the past. I enjoy the image for what it is, comparing it to a piece of music, a symphony of lines, shapes and colors that make me feel new emotions enlarging upon my inventory of experiences.