I was discussing with my good corroborator and roommate Silent Knight what constituted "computer art" when he disagreed with my description of myself to a bunch of folks on a committee to do an exhibition up here.
"You're not a computer artist."
(What he was arguing is the assumption people will make connecting it to some sort of graphic or visual art.)
So we got into some jawing on the bus about what constituted 'computer art' - I proposed writing in hypertext as a computer art, but we agreed that this wasn't anything seriously different from old analogue "choose-your-own-adventure" books. Likewise, using an airbrush in Photoshop is still drawing, only using a computer as a tool; modeling is just sculpture or archetecture on a computer.
What is a native computer art? (By native, I mean an art form which is conceptually unique to a computer platform; one which can't be realized without a computer and couldn't have even been hypothesized before the proliferation of them.) I suggested democoding as a native-computer art, but SK reduces it to common math, logic and a grasp of an uncommon language but one inherently no more different than French or Catalan - only a different tool.
So, what do you all think is a native computer artform? Screensavers? Desktop pattersn? 8)
By grr! (cr618396-a.crdva1.bc.wave.home.com - 188.8.131.52) on Sunday, February 28, 1999 - 10:25 am:
And the first person to say anything about american indians gets a smack to the head!
By darkmage (adsl-151-201-20-52.bellatlantic.net - 184.108.40.206) on Sunday, February 28, 1999 - 03:53 pm:
Screensavers and desktop patterns are generally collections of images created with the things you've discarded as being nothing more than tools. Likewise, basically anything created on the computer would have to be discarded under that premise. The computer itself, as it pertains to art, is nothing more than a very expensive peice of canvas. Different software on one, different brushes and paints on the other. It all adds up to the same in the end.
From my point of view, I fail to see why the computer as a medium should receive any different attitude from any other medium. A computer can no more create something unique than a canvas, it's the responsibility of the artist holding the brush or mouse to accomplish that. Reducing computer art to math, logic, etc. is like reducing oil painting to arranging molecules to reflect light in a specific pattern.
Art is a representation of an idea. How it is represented is irrelevant.
By Cthulu of Mistigris (cr618396-a.crdva1.bc.wave.home.com - 220.127.116.11) on Monday, March 1, 1999 - 08:20 am:
I believe that computers, as tools, are capable of creating at least one artform which would have been inconceivable before their ascendancy - we just have to move beyond analogues of existing artforms to find it...
and to specify, it wasn't computer art in general which was being reduced to math and logic, but coding in particular, to which it can much more justifiably (imho) be applied without descending into the ridiculous micro-scale.
Surely someone else out there has some thinks regarding this?
By mongi (dialup228-1-22.swipnet.se - 18.104.22.168) on Monday, March 1, 1999 - 09:19 am:
It all depends on how deep you want to go.. I mean, as oil and watercolors are different, so is pixelating. So isn't it a native artform then?
By God among Lice (bootp-231-230.bootp.virginia.edu - 22.214.171.124) on Tuesday, March 2, 1999 - 02:36 am:
>>Art is a representation of an idea. How it is represented is irrelevant.
This to me is a really important concept. I think Darkmage was saying this in the sense that there is just an idea that an artist wants to get down.. that he's not terribly concerned exactly how it's shown, or more importantly, he's uninterested in how it's represented, just as long as it gets across to the viewer, whether that's with pixels or oil paint.
But I think of those two sentences in a subtly different way, as it fits into my own theories. The digital file is a perfect representation of something. What I am representing when I create a digital image is basically just that: digital data. For me, the idea IS the representation itself. They are one and the same. (I don't actually always create art with that concept in mind, but I do think about it a lot)
So I guess the more accurate statement for myself is: "Art is a representation of an idea. How it is presented is irrelevant." Most people think of the "represented" in Darkmage's original statement as equivalent with "presented", or "how it is shown".
I see a clear distinction between representing something and presenting something. To represent means to codify, to arrange clearly in an abstract sense. To present means to "perform" that representation, so to speak.
If you want an example of how computers have made a major contribution to something new, then I think it's this, that it has given us a clear representation and method for demonstrating this idea. People create ansis, and distribute ansi files made up essentially of text codes that represent what they arranged. When another ansi artist looks at the creation, he will admire the way in which the blocks have been arranged. He doesn't admire the particular tint of cyan that happens to be shown on his monitor. What he does admire is the relationship of having this cyan F4 next to this white F3. The actual presentation will always depend on the nuances of the viewer's sytem, the size of his screen, the contrast settings, etc.
Of course.. you don't really NEED a computer to do any of this, which is the real question asked earlier. I think more than anything, the computer provides the paradigm needed to make the concept clear. And really, conceptual artists like Sol Lewitt have already explored the idea a while ago, by doing things like creating a work of art which consists only of instructions for how a gallery should construct a specific work of art, like "on a canvas 9ft by 6ft, draw 3 vertical lines of such width, so far from such edge, and display for x period of time" (note that this also gets into the idea of licensing, another aspect of software and data).
So.. anyway, there you have it. Needless to say the topic is something that interests me a whole lot.. It's something I find really important and I'm glad people are discussing stuff relating to it.
By Nitnatsnoc (mn.lab.222.library.ubc.ca - 126.96.36.199) on Thursday, March 4, 1999 - 11:06 am:
Sure, graphic art may be just another way of producing visual artwork, like classic oil-on-canvas paintings, but as the tools used are different, I'd have to say that the computer graphic artwork is one that is "native" to the computer.
An artist using red watercolours on canvas and an artist using a freshly decapitated mongoose on canvas will produce similar results on the surface (red streaks) with basically the same process (swiping the instrument, be it paintbrush or bloody neck-stump, to mark the canvas in red), but the artistic meaning is decidedly different because of the instrument alone, without even considering the artist's intentions.
For these same reasons, creating art with the mouse, keyboard or whatever should certainly be considered a form of art native to the computer.
Differing realms of art can share basic principles while still retaining a distinct character.
By Nitnatsnoc (mn.lab.216.library.ubc.ca - 188.8.131.52) on Wednesday, March 17, 1999 - 03:16 pm:
Man, no one ever adds anything after I write stuff.
God damned mutes!
By Cthulu of Mistigris (cr618396-a.crdva1.bc.wave.home.com - 184.108.40.206) on Wednesday, March 17, 1999 - 03:26 pm:
I often leave faults behind in my writings for others to pick at. (Not intentionally, but I do consciously write these sloppily.)
Clean arguments leave nothing further to be discussed 8)