Digital Aesthetic v.3 | WebReference

Digital Aesthetic v.3


The Digital Aesthetic v.3

I know many artists who won't go near a computer because they say that digital art is flat and lifeless. Being trained as a painter, I understand their point, in that the flat lifeless surface of digital art is somewhat distancing. On the other hand they are missing out on the way that digital art allows for fluid concept and idea development. I look at this tradeoff in the column that follows. Send me your ideas, let me know what you think....



A major challenge to the visual artist has always been one of how to transform ideas into a work of art in a way that best conveys the intended message. In many cases, the success of this process is directly controlled by the medium chosen, whether it is paint, stone, or bits and bytes. As these production processes vary, so does a medium's ability to express the thoughts and ideas of the artist. Artworks created in different mediums come into being in different ways, affecting the train of thought and the flow of ideas. The speed of creation, the physicality of the act, and the adherence to (or avoidance of) process, all play an important role in what the finished piece looks like.

Speed of Creation

Central to the creative process are the reactions an artist has to the artwork in progress; looking at what he has done thus far, and evaluating it next to his original intentions. While involved in the creative process, the artist sorts through all sorts of visual information, combining images, making color choices, and deciding which combinations most effectively communicate the intended message. The medium itself offers inherent choices, which are created and acted upon at different speeds. Mediums that reveal themselves quickly, such as drawing, are often used in the preliminary process of creation, due to drawing's capacity to keep up with the flow of information in the initial creative stages. As the creative process continues, the artist moves on more substantial mediums, leaving paper and pencil behind. The digital medium offers the ability to begin in rough conceptual terms, much as you would with pen and pencil, moving things around until a direction suggests itself. It then allows for further refinement, indulging further image development, not to mention the addition of sound, animation, or other forms of information as desired. The information is completely flexible, moving through stages of further refinement, allowing itself to be modified, added to, and transformed while always allowing the artist to revert to former stages, or to go back to any point in the process and start over.

In addition to the speed of idea development, sketching is important for conventional artists because they need to have a decent idea where a piece is going before getting into it too deeply.
A sculptor or painter who changes gears in midstream could find that they have wasted a great deal of time and money, which could have been avoided had they planned the project in more detail. While spontaneity is still important to their work, it must be balanced with the more pragmatic aspects of their craft.

The digital medium provides a degree of speed and flexibility that other mediums can't keep up with, allowing the artist to connect with the work quickly and intuitively, without feeling that he has to slow down and wait for the execution. Copy, paste, save the work and work on a copy. This is a very liberating aspect of digital art. It should make us take risks and push the image further...after all, we can always go back to a previous state at any point. This ability allows the digital artist to delve deeper into the many facets of his subject, which should result in a clearer and more articulate work.

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Created: Dec 12, 1998
Revised: Dec 12, 1998