Digital Art As Fine Art

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Digital Art As Fine Art

From Juan Carlos Martinez

Published before 2005


Patrick Lawrence wrote:
Well, after thinking about it more and reading some of the replies, etc., I believe there is no difference at all. Making great art in a digital format is the same as doing it in oils, etc., it's just another tool. A great painter/draftsman can use all his same skills in the digital format. Great art if digital or traditional oils, etc., is exactly the same.

Piet Spijkers wrote:
You say that about great art, digital "or traditional oils" is "exactly" the same. I am not quite convinced that you really were aware of what you were writing down. Where is this "great painter/draftsman" on digital art you referred to? So far I have seen no one. I am afraid he does not exist (and will not).

I agree with Piet here; the difference is something like playing a video or computer game of golf, say, and comparing that to the real game of golf. The video game is challenging, difficult, frustrating, etc., but it is not nearly the “exact same” as golf. In the digital version, for instance, the swinging of the club, the flight of the ball, etc., are all done with algorithms, unlike the reality of it, which is immensely more complex, difficult, and unpredictable. The analogy to art is perhaps a little stretched, I admit, but the basis of it is there. Lines and brushstrokes in digital art are all algorithms, and, to some extent, perfect, unlike the reality of art, which is imperfect. Using a stylus and a tablet to do the drawing or painting is orders of magnitude easier than manipulating real paint with a real brush. It has its challenges, yes, only they are far fewer than in real art. What difference does the degree of difficulty make? Well, for that answer I turn back to the golf game analogy. Perhaps many people would be interested in a tournament of computer-game golf and there could be world champions and prize money and all sorts of things, but no one would accord it the same status as the real game of golf or the real golfers who play it. I needed explain that further, as I think that is rather an obvious example on the face of it.

Another difference is the impermanence of digital imagery, which is not too certain at this point. Not all fine art is long lasting, but most of it tries to be, and all of it should be. If it is well-crafted, we know that just about anything will last at least 4 to 5 hundred years, or more with good care. That permanence is an element of the universal appeal of much of the best fine art. How long will a given digital image remain with us? Theoretically, for a long time in digital format, I know; but the various formats and mechanisms for storage and retrieval are constantly changing. Will we even be able to read the CD-ROM or DVD that has the digital images stored on it fifty years from now? Probably not unless someone is very diligent about transferring to new media as they are developed. These problems are not present in the traditional fine arts.

I suppose there is more, too.

Best.

Juan