Friday, 27 February 2015

Is digital art 'real' art ?

It quite often happens that people look at my digital art and say things like : that's lovely, I wonder what it would look like if it were an oil painting on canvas ?

My immediate response is defensive. I get defensive in a way because underneath I am slightly uneasy about its validity as an art form. "Art made on a computer isn't real art", and "there there dear, one day you could be a real artist if only you worked in a proper medium", spoken in my head in a truly condescending inner critic's voice.

So I feel that my own digital art isn't  as valid as the art I make on paper...is this some kind of deep seated snobbery? I think it is. After all, digital art hasn't really been around very long. It's a new medium, and because it's new it's bound to be seen as a threat by those who don't want to embrace it. Look at the furore created by photography when it was first invented. And yet now photographs are everywhere. Photography is a tool for creative expression. 

Photography as a tool is used by people to create art, to create records, as an aid to other creative processes. It can be utterly prosaic, and it can be utterly sublime. So why not allow the same of digital art ?

It's a new tool. A tool which is unfamiliar to many people, which demands a serious commitment to learning how to use it. There are as many ways to use the software as there are people who use it. It creates unique kinds of marks. It's an art form which for now can only be seen outside of the computer, iPad etc, if it's printed. 

Digitally based art is  as good as the person who wields the stylus. Just as watercolour is a difficult medium to master, so is working digitally on a piece. It demands the same kinds of aesthetic decision making, the same kind of knowledge of what you can and can't do. The same creative skill. But, and this is the thing I think we all have to really get, it's not watercolour, it's not an oil painting, it's a piece of digital work. It's a medium with unique properties, and I'm going to claim it for myself as a medium as valid as anything else. 

10 comments:

  1. Think of it as pioneering. Why deprive yourself of the experience. Everything changes.
    If it's good enough for a "real" artist like Hockney why not the rest of us.

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    1. Yes exactly ! Pioneering is a great way of putting it ! Thanks !

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  2. When I first saw digital art in an art exhibit I thought it was 'cheating'-that it wasn;t the same as 'real' art. But, I had never done any and didn't get it. Now I have played with my own photographs and edited them using Photoshop creating cool new images full of colors. texture, surprises...and I love it! I see that it still takes skill to choose and arrange the elements, composing a unique image that is satisfying. True like you said it is usually seen on a device unless it is printed, but can also be used as an inspiration for a work with another medium.

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    1. I do find I get a lot of inspiration from the art I make digitally, it translates into other mediums, not directly but filters through somehow...

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  3. Digital tools are nothing more than a new tool in the crayon box. In the beginning some people passed their prints off as original artwork, by calling it "giclee." Now people pretty much know that's a print, and know better than to pay the same as they would an actual painting. Now, digital art means so much more and the work is, in fact, digitally created as in any painting...just a different medium. Not cheating.

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  4. Here here! Very well said, Michele. I shy away from encouraging the use of digital tools in my classes because they are so easily used to make "instant art", or art that reflects the gimmicks of the tool rather than the vision of the artist. It is YOUR art that has given me real respect for the iPad as a tool and digital media in general. REALLY.

    I've seen a few other artist use Photoshop or other similar tools to create what I consider "real" art, but most of the digital art I see looks cheap and gimmicky. That is what gives it a bad rap. You just rock on, and be confident in your choice of media.

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    1. Thanks Jane, that's very encouraging to hear !

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    2. Michele I say here! here! to Jane's comments. You are in my mind one of the masters of this medium. You keep right on Lady!

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  5. Well said! As a viewer I look first , react second, and finally take notice of the technique utilized. It matters not to me that the work is digital. Looking at your work, I am always struck by the layers, complexity, yet simple composition. Go Michele!

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