photo: andrew dunford
MEDIA *SPARK-ONLINE VERSION 32.0
please accept me as art

by brian scates

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There is quite a buzz out today about this new fangled "digital revolution" and how it will change our world. Opinions differ, of course, from those who think computers are a fad and refuse to use email to those who build hangable works of art out of used laptops. It is my opinion (obviously, being a computer art minor) that computers are certainly here to stay, and their value as an artistic medium will only expand.

Much like photography in the mid 19th century, "photoshoppers," or digital artists, are having a difficult time gaining acceptance in the mainstream/traditional art world. Computers have been seen for the past 50 years as tools of business and science, and more recently, expensive typewriters. While books have been composed digitally for a solid decade with no loss of recognition, words are more easily translated to other media than digital art. Because much of the digital art out there is native to the computer, that's where it is best displayed. People are unaccustomed to writing emails on a platform of artistic expression. Perhaps they are in denial.

Another roadblock in the road to digital acceptance is the early adoption of the computer and its graphical abilities for commercial purposes. Users of the tool made use of it less for art, and more for craft. TV graphics, magazines, newspapers, websites, brochures and billboards are all created with a computer now, and people often associate "computer artist" with "graphic artist," confusing the two. Commercial art is what people have come to expect on their computers, much like they do on TV. Every website, every flashing banner seems to be for a commercial, or at least non-art purpose. Therefore, when presented with something "for art's sake" people are unsure what to do with it. "What's the point?" comes to their mind, as they are unprepared to consider any artistic meanings in the piece. What "art" they have come across in the past was most likely poorly executed, further adding to their presumptions.

Art, however, is certainly all over the web—almost to its detriment. The Internet has brought with it an easy way for anyone with a computer to create something and post it for all the world to see, whether it's good or not. The lack of quality filters means one must wade through tons of mediocre to find a jewel, and by the time they get there they may be numb or turned off to it all. This further hinders proper recognition for the digital artist.

I believe the future of digital art will be similar to the growth of all new artistic media, especially photography. The mechanical "hands off" technique to art making will gain ground as more people are reminded that its not what art is made of, its the message the artist is communicating; which is independent of the medium on which is it presented. More and more people will be involved as the tools are easily available, however, there will always be those who can really push the envelope and make us reconsider all that we had thought about art before. These artists will get their recognition. The beautiful thing about our new digital medium, however, is that anyone can communicate with anyone—and the next star could come from anywhere. But, then, how do you find that star?

Brian Scates (brian@exitanalog.org) is an Ad Design major/Computer Art minor at Stephen F. Austin State University in East Texas. He has lots of genius ideas that he forgot to write down.


 

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