Digital Art As Fine Art

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Digital Art As Fine Art

From Juan Carlos Martinez

Published before 2005


You’ve somehow managed to entirely miss most of my points. ;-)

See Iian’s post on the subject of imperfections.

Golf and video golf are both games, yes, but my point is that they are not comparable other than perhaps in that way, which doesn’t help. Parcheesi is a game, too. The analogy resides in elements such as the swinging of a golf club. That is a difficult and precise skill in reality, which you don’t need to do in a video game, because it isn’t real. No one is swinging a golf club, it is a picture of someone swinging it. You just move your mouse around to activate it. (Sure, if you move the mouse around wrong, you hit a bad shot, but I shouldn’t have to explain all of the differences.) It is its virtualness and its non-existence, which make it much easier to do, despite whatever inherent difficulties there are in perfecting a computer golf swing, and therefore computer golf is not as “high” in the theoretical hierarchy we are using here, in my estimation. Those are the sorts of differences between things that the analogy tries to address in regard to art, too.

I didn’t say that digital art isn’t art. What I am trying to answer is the initial question posed, which was whether it could be considered as “fine art”. My interpretation of that phrase, or at least the way the question was posed, is that what is in the category of “fine art” is on a higher plane than what is not in that category. I know it’s a rather loose kind of hierarchy, and fraught with its own issues, but without it, there is no discussion really.

The degree of difficulty point I raised is not the be-all and end-all of the matter, but it has relevance. It is a factor to be considered when categorizing all sorts of pursuits, and it is done all the time, wouldn’t you agree? (The same goes for the longevity or universality, too. These are factors.) We don’t actually compare degrees of difficulty, per se, but part of what makes up the totality of Bouguereau’s skill set is its difficulty. It is much harder to do what he did, to draw and paint as he did, than to draw and paint as you do (no offence intended, but you used yourself as an example, so I’m just extending it a little). We normally do not assign the highest status to things that are easy for just anyone to accomplish, do we? I don’t mean that everything must be a physical chore, no, nor that one has to make one’s own brushes, nor stand on one’s head. (Those are somewhat disingenuous exaggerations of the issue I raised, and also miss the point). The kind of “difficulty” I am talking about arises when something worth doing or worthy of being categorized in the highest rank, as “fine art” is, requires a lot of practice, training, lore, intelligence, craft, skill, knowledge, sensitivity, taste etc. in order to do well. All of these take years to acquire and hone and to juggle harmoniously in any given work. And in that sense, it is “difficult”. Of course, some people “make it look easy”, as did Michael Jordan make basketball look easy (to use another sport, but non-golf analogy) but I don’t think anyone would think it was easy to do what he did. Generally, society puts pursuits that exhibit a higher degree of difficultly in a relatively higher position than ones which are related, but which require less of all those factors which I mentioned. Does that make more sense? I’m sure you can find examples where this isn’t so, but I’d say that more or less, it holds true.

I have used a stylus and tablet and yes there are limitations.

All of which is to reiterate that digital art and real, physical art (for lack of a better way of distinguishing them) are not “exactly the same” and that, for now at least, I wouldn’t accord the status of “fine art” on the former, which answers the initial question.