Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Is digital art really art?

Short answer? I don't know. That's why I'm writing this post. I am hoping someone will have some feedback. I would love hearing people say, "yes of coarse it's art" but that's just my ego talking. In reality I suspect the answer is probably not quite that simple or flattering. Yes I believe it takes some creativity and skill to take visual concepts and translate them into digital media, and even though modern (or post-modern?) tools like the iPad make the experience of creating these images closer to the "organic" experience, it's still not the same. I would much prefer to be dealing with real paper, ink, paint, and canvas but at the moment I lack the space and the time to do so. What bothers me though, is that the images I am able to create digitally are much more stunning than what I could actually achieve with my bare hands working with raw materials. I have been struggling with how to think of this. The digital versions are still original, still my own work - in fact if I had the skill required (not to mention the time, space, and materials) it is exactly the kind of work I would be turning out. The difference is that while working with limited materials and resources is considered honorable in the art world (or at least the art world in my head), working with limited skill is not. In fact that is the other thing I miss about the organic art process; the sense of accomplishment after investing time and skill into a project. Creating something that is not only a product of my own imagination, but of my own time and skill.

This is going to sound completely unrelated, but often when I think of what I enjoy most about making art, I remember something I used to do as a kid. When I had a few hours to kill (or didn't feel like doing homework - which was always) I would take a pile of pennies, find a flat surface, and one by one stand them all up on their sides. Sometimes I would end up with a hundred or more up-ended pennies on my desk. I know it's not exactly art, but it took skill and patience and to this day was one of the most soothing activities I've wasted time on. This is the experience that I am always trying for when I sit down to make art, and to an extent, it is achieved while making "art" on the iPad.

The other consideration is the question of skill. I know from experiences I've had in the past that if I invest the time, many skills are really within my reach. The fact that I haven't invested the time bothers me, and I intend to remedy that at some indeterminate point in the future. Meanwhile I can hone some of the "little" skills (ones not requiring a lot of space or special materials) and that's worth something.

So is it art? I still don't know. You tell me. To me it is beautiful and it communicates something beyond language, even if the process is less "pure" than I would like. I consider the work I do on the iPad to be shadows of what I would do "organically" given the time and resources.

I hope this isn't to disillusioning to anyone who had assumed that the work they saw me post online was done by hand (or "only" by hand). If it is, sorry to burst your bubble, and no I'm probably not that good in "real life." I am always trying to be honest with my work but I also can't let guilt or thoughts of "I wish I could do this with real materials" hold back my imagination, so I guess I'll just keep doing what I've been doing and not worry about what to call it.

I value your comments and suggestions. Please share your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:34 AM

    It is most definetly art and it is beautiful...