The Human Touch
In my lifetime I have seen so many changes and even though I am a science fiction artist and should expect this, the changes are unpredictable. It makes me think of our grandparents who remembered a time when there was no television, hardly a phone, big gas guzzling cars and etc. Because I need to make a living I am forced to change. Some changes are unwelcome but I have adapted. Some are a even a pleasure. But it is also important to hold on to core values and not throw out all tradition.
When I paint, there is part of me that goes into the painting. In some ways painting is a catharsis. Even though, I have created digital artwork myself, digital is vastly different from real paintings. I know there are others who will insist it is the same and just another tool but we cannot compare the two. Painting with a brush or any tool on a real surface is the most intimate way a painter can create. I am sorry, but a mouse or or stylist does not allow for happenstance which is when the subconscious takes hold of some of our reflexes and we allow that creativity to flow from the mind to our hands and then through the brush. Often, I make mistakes or the painting changes as I work on it. I allow those mistakes and those changes to shape a better painting, a better idea. In essence painting is a back and forth process thats mimics a tide of low ebb and high. This is what makes painting enjoyable, the process. This does not occur with the digital painting, instead what I feel occurs is a course of does and redoes which occur with a push of a button and save or not save or a series of saves. I also feel that the artist is more trapped by the computer and its tools then he or she realizes. The artist does have his mind playing back and forth with what the computer allows and if successful, he/she gets to the idea that is desired, but I feel that that intimacy is lost, instead it is more like a collaboration between the artist and the machine. The advantage might be less time, less mess and a technical ease unheard of, but at what price? I think there is something very fundamental that gets lost. Then there is the argument that its just another medium, the same argument occurred with watercolor art or acrylic. But those mediums are still physical, so its not comparable. Others complain that I am saying that digital is easy and the machine does it for you and its not fair to say that, you have to be an artist first to do good digital art,etc. I have been there, and done it, still do some digital and artist do cheat, they do take shortcuts, seen it, done it. Its just too easy to just paint over a photo or borrow a snipit of something and change it. There used to be a program called Bryce 3D that built entire worlds and you just sat back while it rendered. I have seen those worlds used in Science Fiction paintings. So, even if you scan in a pencil sketch and paint, there is still a loss of physical spontaneity. Even though the real world is harder and accidents happen, sometimes the accidents clear the uniformity.
Is Digital Art REAL art. Well everyone gets to call themselves an artist these days, so much so, that you might as well call all things art. Its really stupid. So to make this easier, we should ask: Is digital art a real painting? To this I answer No, it is not in the most basic sense of what a physical painting is. Digital art I will say is creating. Let me drive this point home in a more clear fashion. Say you go to an Sotheby's auction and they have a number of Van Gogh paintings on the block. Now, before the auction begins someone comes running into the show with a digital image on their ipad or maybe they have printed it out on fine linen paper. This image is so beautiful, its just as pretty as a Van Gogh. Do you think that Sotheby's will suddenly stop and put that print up for auction? Do you think they would consider it just a valuable as the Van Goghs? Hardly. See, this is more then just an image whether that image resides on paper or on a screen. The collectors who are there to buy those Van Goghs are not just interested in the image he painted, but the actual physical canvas, the object dearly loved by its creator. The object that traveled from home, to field, to drunken bars, to art galleries where it was rejected and then to the shabby cottage he lived in. That canvas is a rare gem of sweat, tears and angst. This is why good art gets more and more valuable over time, it's collected for many reasons.
I am not sure how art will evolve over time. It would be a shame to see the physical objects of art disappear in favor of transitory images on a screen. If this were to occur it would worry me as a human being, it would be one more thing that separates us from the magic of the real world and the energy that occurs naturally all around us. This is not old fashioned, it's real. Despite the increasing change that occurs around us now, there are some things that remain the same, and Human touch is one of them.