From JD Jarvis, “Toward a Digital Aesthetic” (2004);

“The Transparent Revolution
What does digital art look like? Confounding this slippery topic is the chameleon-like ability of digital art to simulate to a very high degree the appearance of many traditional media and genre. In addition, certain commonly held beliefs, some of which are in direct opposition to one another, add to the camouflage, hiding from our awareness the actual scope of current digital art. For example, one idea, based on digital imagery made nearly a generation ago, holds that computer art is boxy and pixilated with sharp vertical and horizontal lines and jagged diagonals, that the colors are uncontrolled and super saturated, and that the predominate forms hinge on infinite swirling repetitions. Oddly enough this idea survives and stands today in spite of a converse belief that digital art serves mainly to create seamless realistic environments and characters that are indistinguishable from photographic reality. These incomplete and limiting views blind us to the fluidity and expressive potentials of digital imagery. ”

Source: http://www.dpandi.com/essays/jarvis2.html

I’m consistently amazed that a great deal of discussion occurs over whether or not digital art is “really” art. Pop onto any general discussion board, or even some of the LinkedIn “professional” discussion groups and you’ll see active conversations about what digital art means, how its aesthetics are defined by  its tools and whether or not digital art is salable, important or vital.

These discussions are unnecessary, often spiraling in a lack of academic or cultural understanding. Digital art, in serious production, no longer even refers to “computer art” or “Photoshop” as it did 20 years ago in scholarly circles. Digital art is now rightfully folded into New Media, a cross-disciplinary methodology that includes sound, web, video and all manner of mix and rewrite cultural production.

Digital imagery, of the kind Jarvis discusses in his pivotal article (linked above) itself is above and beyond mere production or object. It’s rooted in our shifting social consciousness, our contemporary cultural production, our existence in a sea of information (the images themselves made up of endless strings of 1s and 0s, mathematical data manipulated and displayed).

If the average participant in the digital media discussion would let go of the idea of digital imaging as graphics for games or seamless virtual Maya worlds, more headway outside the classroom could be made in addressing digitization as a vital, contemporary investigation.

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