Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Repositing Digital Art

It is now possible to buy a modest software package that applies filters to digital images to give them togive them the appearance of having been created by an artist's hand. One called Gallery Effects by Aldus includes sixteen "master effects" to turn scanned photographs into "Charcoal, Watercolor, Fresco, Film Grain," and many others. The software is advertised as "Everything you need to transform images into art". High art has been brought into the domain of computer media, but now it is merely a style - Artist Richard Wright

The digital techniques that Wright is describing can (literally) illustrate a larger cultural development: that we are coming to regard what was once high art as a series of stylistic choices.
There is no longer a rigid cultural hierarchy by which, say, a portraits in oils is always superior to an ink-drawn illustration for a comic books ( or 'graphic novel', as comic books are now sometimes called). Digital graphic artists may choose to adopt and refashion styles that in the past were characterized as high art, but they would have difficulty chaiming that this choice necessarily raises their work above popular illustration. Instead of elevating her, the decision to work in tradition of high art simply puts the artist into a relatively small "small interest group".

Wright further add:
once technological culture had become unavoidable through its prevalence in popular forms like videographics, computer games, and music, it was as though the time had come for digital media to now be saved from its vulgar origins and a process of aesthetic upliftment to begin...By the beginning of the nineties there were numerous calls for artists to become more and more involved in new media, computer technology, and electronic imaging, to use their "unique power of creativity and imagination" to show what computer could do when put to "non destructive ends"
Yet Wright is talking about calls from within the artistic community itself, specifically by that group of artitst and critics who are trying to find their way into the new medium. A search of the website Google shows how many "naive" graphic designers are portraying themselves as digital artists.

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