Digital Art by Christiane Paul
With the invention of the computer in the sixties, the art world was opened up to a new set of possibilities. The artistic field of digital media grew just as quickly as the new technology. At first, the art that was made from early computers was very mathematical. Digital Images had to be coded in to a program. The invention of the mouse made it much easier for artists to create art on computers. With a mouse, the computer becomes an extension of the self, and it becomes even easier to create digital art.
With new networks starting to emerge, artists were able to collaborate with each other, even if they were all the way across the planet! In the digital world, the museum and gallery no longer have any significance. Art can now be shown through the Internet.
After the invention of the Internet, artists were able to expand the art of collage. With new opportunities to gather any kind of information they want, artists can now build a new medium. And now, they can blend collages seamlessly, creating a new sense of reality.
Digital imaging: Photography and Print:
In the early years of digital art, artists would create their pieces based off of mathematical functions. Another form of early digital art was morphing. The morphing piece was used to demonstrate the ideals of beauty in our society, but now morphing is used to solve crimes by police investigators. It is interesting to see how that work of art was a precursor for technology that is used today.
With the introduction of Digital Media, advertising took a tremendous leap. With new collaging techniques, artists could portray symbols and messages easier.
In the realm of sculpture, artists are now able to create pieces without actually having to touch the final product at all. 3D printers are being introduced, so artists can sculpt with accuracy.
Any artwork can be defined as interactive. The interaction happens between the artwork and the audience. Digital work can be developed, recycled and reproduced.
Forms of Digital Art:
All digital art cannot necessarily be categorized. In fact, many digital artworks cross the boundaries, combining elements from categories to create their own unique form.
Some digital installation art attempts to merge the physical world and the virtual world. One piece was actually able to let the audience manipulate it through programmable buttons, and motion sensors. The audience could make certain movements to make castle interiors project upon the face of a building.
How can installation art like this be practical in everyday life? Would it be possible to use this sort of technology for, say, presenting houses as a realtor?
Installation art is a great way to interact physically with the audience. One piece described in the book, Polar, is actually a piece that can be manipulated by it’s visitors. It’s always changing, so the experience is slightly different for each person who enters the installation.
Film, video, and animation:
I agree with the book when it says that cartoons and animation are also lumped in the category of film. I would suggest that a better description of this section would be “motion picture” since it focuses on any moving picture projected on a surface. The thing that interested me the most was how many different ways motion pictures could be presented to the audience. Some video art involves the viewer by allowing them to pass in front of the picture, causing a shadow, or to become a part of the video its self by being filmed. Another interesting presentation was allowing the viewer to create his own story by being able to manipulate individual scenes.
Another aspect about video art that I found interesting was the constantly evolving image of Empire. It was a piece that was specifically about the moment, and it showed how the lighting on the building at that particular moment in time could never be repeated or reproduced.
Internet and nomadic networks:
Internet art is pretty much defined by art that you can make or place on the web. Web art can be textual, as it originally was when the net was first born, or it can be created through new net technology such as web cams. I was able to relate to the online gallery the most. Not only do you not have to get your art in a real gallery anymore, but also artists can now share and collaborate more than they ever have been able to do in the past. I’m a member of Deviant Art, and I can say for sure that having an online gallery is one of the best things that have happened to my art career.
Now you can’t go anywhere on the web without seeing some form of art. Almost every website out there has some sort of graphics. You are even seeing more and more interaction within websites as well.
Another great thing about net art is networking. Through the Internet, cell phones, and PDAs, people can now interact with each other. One popular form of networking is Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games or MMORPGs, such as World of Warcraft.
Software art is software that is written from scratch by artist and then executed on a computer. In software art, the art derives from the language of the code.
Virtual reality and augmented reality:
Virtual reality is a world that is created through the computer. Users can see it through the computer screen, or they can wear special visors to immerse them even more into the virtual world. A virtual reality world can be set up visually through visors, and physically through force-feedback devices. Virtual reality essentially takes the viewer out of this reality, and puts him inside another where he can interact with those objects and environments in that world.
Sound and Music:
Sound and music in the digital world is created electronically and digitally as opposed to the traditional means. One form of digital music is copying and remixing. Some digital music includes pieces where sounds can be organized and manipulated manually. Music can also bring networks of people together through ‘jam’ sessions.
The cellular phone project was the most intriguing to me. Each audience member registered their phone number, so that they could be called and the ring tones would be precisely choreographed.
Artificial life is just as complex as organic life. It is complex to create, and it can also be complex in the way it lives. The first example of artificial life that comes to mind is the upcoming game SPORE by the creator of the SIMS. In SPORE, you create your own living creature from when it is a single celled organism to when it becomes intelligent. You get to modify the way it looks, thinks, eats, mates, and lives. Eventually the goal of the game is to keep your species alive while trying to evolve. Eventually once your species becomes intelligent, it will be able to wage wars with itself. The main goal of the game is achieve space travel and go to other players’ planets to conquer them. The game of SPORE is essentially a virtual universe. The most interesting thing about SPORE is that the world evolves along with the player. It is set so that the player is never on top of the food chain and must defend his species. But once the player evolves some more, he will eventually be able to take on his predator head on. The SIMS is similar in that players can customize their own characters personalities and traits and eventually interact with other individuals.
Artificial intelligence and intelligent agents:
Artists use artificial intelligence to simulate human behavior. We are organized, and yet we are random at times, so artists try to mimic that behavior in their works. The book mentions people fearing that AI will take over, but AI is only an extension of ourselves. They know only what we know, and they will not be able to advance without our intervening. The only advantage of AI would be memory capacity and learning abilities.
But, we have no reason to worry about robots taking over. Even with today’s technology it takes a lot of processing for an AI life form to even identify an object.
Telepresence, telematics, and telerobotics:
Artists have taken advantage of the World Wide Web by connecting users with another part of the planet. Examples are an Internet community taking care of a growing plant, people being able to see and interact through a robotic bird, or people being able to interact though a robot, which has become an extension of their own bodies.
Body and Identity:
Instead of our bodies controlling the artworks, the artworks can now control our bodies. Suits such as Exoskeleton and Ping allowed the body to be moved by information passing through the Internet.
Online worlds now allow users to create their own “cyber-self”. This represents a detachment or a flight from our own bodies.
The piece about the man injecting himself with a microchip got me thinking about utilizing that technology in the future. Will humans eventually wear microchips with all their personal information on it? It’s not impossible for the near future. Utilizing microchip technology could also help with finding missing or lost people.
Databases, data visualization, and mapping:
So much of the art nowadays has left the physical realm and has now gotten into the abstract realm. Much of this can be said for our other aspects of life, such as our Internet lives.
This book is starting to loop back on itself. I feel as I’m reading these concepts over again.
One piece was able to create its own ecosystem through information that was given through the stock market. As stocks rose and fell in certain countries, birds would react.
Beyond the book: Text and narrative environments:
Through the use of hypertext, an audience can make up their own stories and follow their own paths through a maze of text. Hypertext blurs the line between reader and writer.
There are some interactive pieces where viewers can manipulate text.
Despite the controversies out there, games are just as artistic as any of the other works mentioned above. It is interactive in the sense that a player can controls what happens in a scene, it is virtual reality in the sense that it detaches the player from the real world and throws him into a new world, and it is also collaborative because some games require cooperation in order to win.
Just a side note, I was disappointed at the fact that the book only talked about shooter games. There’s a whole world of games out there that are just as good… even better. I can list of a hundred right now… but I won’t.
Tactical media, activism, and hacktivism:
The Internet has become a commodity in the 21st century. It is based off the idea of free information. People have come up with Open Source programs that can be altered and modified by other people.
Technologies of the Future:
With cloning becoming a very possible feat, could there be art found in that as well? With new technologies constantly emerging, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see art grow along with it as well.