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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Digital Art

Inasmuch as all really creative artists are innovators, they, like those in many other fields, are constantly trying to peer around the corner and see what's coming down the pike before it hits them smack in the face and leaves them for road kill. As Web denizens, some friends of mine on the Net have been trying to do just that, every so often rubbing their eyes and wondering in amazement "What hath God wrought?" echoing the first words ever tapped out by artist, Samuel F. B.  Morse, over a 160 years ago with his telegraph key. It's fitting that an artist of Morse's caliber was the first to move beyond visual and written communication to an electronic medium. Even so, no doubt he too would "rub his eyes" at what's happening now, though I don't think for a minute he'd regret having started it all way back in 1844.

A Mandelbulp--Mandelbrot fractal art
comprises some of the earliest computer
generated digital graphics.
I've preached for some time that the future of wall art is digital just as a hundred years ago, the brightest future in the performing arts was in the then infant medium of motion pictures. This is not to say that traditional arts will not continue to flourish just as has live theater and live concerts today, but the incredible digital art we see on the Internet daily is barely an inkling of what large-scale wall monitors will be able to deliver in the not-too-distant future. Just as today when computers are left running 24-7 and deliver delightful "screen savers," tomorrow these lovely moving images, whether abstract or highly realistic will be seen in landscapes with Java-generated watery ripples the norm, and not just with the Kinkade crowd either!

Digital art also extends to sculpture, either
illusional or actual, depending upon the media.
I dare say, if there's any money to be made from it, even traditional art such as Monet's watery Impressionist paintings will be digitized and animated much in the same way old black and white movies are colorized today. We can lament this technicalization of art all we like but it is going to happen. The hardware is coming, the software is here (and rapidly getting better); all that remains is for the right economic elements to fall into place. That doesn't necessarily mean we won't continue to paint using traditional methods, but just as now, when the really "hot" painters paint for print reproduction, the selling artists of the future will paint for digitization. In fact, inasmuch as digitization is so quick and easy (and perhaps quite lucrative), we may all paint for this method of sales and exhibition. Our landscapes may have rustling leaves and flowing, babbling brooks, our still-lives may not be quite so still (flowers that occasionally drop a few petals), our portraits may smile as someone walks by (their eyes now literally following you around the room), and portraits of dearly departed canine pets will bark a friendly greeting from time to time. Okay, so it seems funny now, a bit spooky, maybe downright frightening in its implications for how we will think and work, but then the future has always been all these things. Keep in mind, a hundred years ago, as crude visual and audio recordings were just coming onto the horizon, philosophers were having to rethink and redefine the meaning of the simple little three-letter word, "now."
This is not a photo...or a painting in the traditional sense. What you see is a digital landscape generated by a computer program called Terragen.

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