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Are Computer Graphics A Fine Art? 444

wduffee writes: "As a young artist and a computer geek, I am interested in converging the two fields of study. I had an art show in Little Rock, Arkansas last year of computer-generated art, but it was very poorly received. The art critics there claimed that computer-generated art was not a 'fine art' but more of a graphic design, regardless of the quality of the work. I have received the same response from art professors here in Mississippi, and from other schools (such as students from Glasgow School of Art in Scotland)." So what makes something art exactly? Does having a computer between artist and object somehow detract from the results?

"These responses come from (in my opinion) ignorance about computer graphic programs as a valid art medium, and a lack of vision as to the possibilities of computer graphics as an art form. Movies such as Shrek and Final Fantasy are bringing the medium more and more into the public eye, but not necessarily into the art world.

My question is: am I alone in believing that computer-generated work is valid field of fine arts? If not, has anyone else had similar experiences of attempting to push computer-graphics as an art form and then met with resistance? What are the slashdot community's thoughts on computer graphics as an art form in general? Is it a medium which will be forever banned from acceptance as an art form, or are there ways to push the medium into the field of art?"

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Are Computer Graphics A Fine Art?

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  • Move to new york, period, bottom line, end of the story. You think the like of damian hirst will generate any buzz in Mississippi?

    Except, ofcourse, that the artist in your example is London based.
  • This actually touches on one of the limitations of computer art: consider if you take a 1x1 pixel at 1 bit resolution. This produces a canvas that is all white, or all black. Is that art? In a conceptual, performance-art sense yes. As representational or expressive art it sucks.

    Now take a 640x480 256-color computer rendering. Is that art? The idea behind it may be, but the execution is horribly crude- it's like saying kid crayon drawings are fine art. Fine art's supposed to be _tough_, it takes years to have the craft of it together. The idea is, if you have computer rendering people doing things, what's produced by a person who's creatively brilliant _and_ has been rendering for 30 years _and_ has 27 Crays to play with? If you look at the 640x480 256-color compared with an oil painting it's unavoidable that the painting has _way_ _higher_ _resolution_ in every imaginable sense.

    Once you have computer rendering people getting compulsively interested in the fractal-like details of their work, and not only producing resolutions that allow for distinctions in the thousandths-of-an-inch but CARING deeply about what's happening at that lever, then you will have gotten to the stage where rendering is a fine art. By comparison, in recent years digital audio has started to reach that stage: using different approaches to dithering, it's possible to take great interest in what's going on down at least-significant-bit level, and control the pervasive tone of the recording in a fractal sort of way.

    The analogy is striking- in both cases, the original form (oil paints, analog tape) had obvious faults but also a capacity to record 'fractal' sorts of detail that people respond to. The patterns of brushstrokes, the subtleties of emotion in a horn's note... then both are 'replaced' by digital media, but the early forms of the media are completely incapable of recording that level of subtlety (ask a mastering engineer about 16 bit truncation sometime!) and it takes some progress and development before the media is up to delivering the same _type_ of satisfaction as the older, more primitive methods delivered as a matter of course.

    If computer rendering is not considered a fine art, then you simply need more resolution. At the point where you can render a portrait of a person's room and have the dust on the floor produce a subliminal sense of desert sands, causing the room to 'feel' a certain way... or have the dust on the floor produce a subliminal sense of ocean waves causing the room to 'feel' another way without being obviously different... why, then you will have Fine Art. You have to have both the art and the craft together to the point where you are interested in subtleties like that, interested in the 'feel' of what you're creating. Having an idea is not enough- the work has to also have resolution enough to express a great deal about how you approached it and what your intentions were. It's possible that computer rendering, as it reaches truly fine-art levels of sophistication, will wind up speaking eloquently about _mothematics_ to the discerning, in ways that the untutored would simply not get... as if fine art appreciators of the future would go, "But the most daring element is where the texture of the piece delicately shifts from error diffusion to the hint of pattern dither in the shadows of the lady's face, as if something about her is a creation of the media" etc etc... and not in a Warhol-like hit-you-with-it way, but as if you'd use different processes intentionally, at a degree of subtlety that it would be almost impossible to even perceive it, but in the full intention of using every possible element of your process as an artistic element...

  • bah... 'level' and 'mathematics'... way too busy, producing typos in haste.. :P
  • You must disregard the critics and just forge onward with your creativity. The only form of acceptance that matters, if acceptance matters at all, is that by enthusiastic fans of your work.

    A creation is art if it exhibits creativity, style and can carry some kind of emotional or intellectual message that appeals to or provokes the mind at some level.

    Ray tracing two spheres over a checkered plane is probably not art, but not on account of being computer rendered, but on account of the tiny amount of actual creative input. It's the computer graphic equivalent of throwing a can of paint at the canvas, or painting a few geometric figures; the idea is small, and its translation into the final work is mechanical or random.

    Art lies in that region of complexity somewhere between randomness and uniformity.

    If the criticism you are receiving is simply about the medium you are using, rather than the forms you are creating within that medium, then that is pure elitism. You should discount that immediately. Any criticism that is not related to what you are actually creating, but to your unorthodox method of creation, should not be considered valid criticism at all.

    You have to remember that in the world of art, the value of an artwork is judged by things other than its content. A ridiculously high value is ascribed to an original paining, for instance, even though a faithful replica carries the same information.

    In computer graphics, there is no such thing as an original; all copies are equivalent. I suspect that this has a lot to do with why the players in the art world are so disparaging of computer art. You can't do the same kind of wheeling and dealing! A gallery cannot say that it has the original work of some computer graphic artist. A computer file at an surreal price.

    (Okay, what you could do is make a one and only print, and then destroy all the digital artifacts that went into it, but I think that digital artists regard those digital artifacts as the real work of art; who wants to destroy their work?)
  • Most graphic design these days is either to be displayed on computers or is at least done on computers. In fact, most images made on computers are probably graphic design.

    This doesn't mean that computer art can't be fine art; most images hung on walls are also graphic design products.

    Of course, it's possible to define fine art to specify certain traditional media, such that, for instance, only Monet originals and not prints are fine art; similarly, Bach isn't fine art, but music. Oil painting and watercolor and acrylic are different skills from computer art, as they are from mosaic or sculpture. In this sense, computer art is, well, computer art, not anything else.

    That doesn't mean it is graphic design, which is an entirely different thing whose principles are often in opposition. Nor is it somehow less pure or real than painting.
  • Thinking that computer generated art (or simply art done on a computer or with computer technology) is a closed minded approach to the fine arts. I think it is almost akin to the idea that the only "true" music is classical.

    I just attended a very popular and interesting art exhibit at the Whitney museum in New York City a few weeks back (it's closed now, nor can I remember the name of the exhibit), and I will certainly tell you that at least in NYC people were not objected to the idea. Besides the computer graphics representation of certain images from history, there were three things that were done that can't be recreated with simply paint and canvas or sculpture:

    1. Moving graphic image art; basically something akin to a screensaver, but art nonetheless.
    2. Work with programmed LEDs behind a translucent filter that gave the impression of a 3D face; additionally, the image flickered and morphed - something traditional art cannot do.
    3. SOUND art. Yes, you heard me right. They had 20+ stations set up where you would simply listen to a 0:20 - 23:00 loop. This is art whether or not you like it.

    My two cents follows more or less what Frank Zappa said about music: If you create something and declare it as music/art, then it is. It is up to the critics to decide if they like it or not.


  • The art critics there claimed that computer-generated art was not a 'fine art' but more of a graphic design, regardless of the quality of the work. I have received the same response from art professors here in Mississippi, and from other schools (such as students from Glasgow School of Art in Scotland).

    Depends on what art professors you asked -- I graduated from Belhaven College [] in Mississippi, with a B.A. in Art. I was totally computer-focused, and my senior seminar was a series of computer generated images (combination of Photoshop and 3D modelling). I had no problems in defending my series, and it was heartily endorsed and accepted.

    Re: art critics, remember their job: to make themselves look good. A critic that looks like a lackey will soon be peddling opinions for spare-change: a profession with little upward mobility. Art critics are the worst of the lot: art is such a damned subjective thing, they are in constant fear of being found out for the frauds they are. It costs little to excoriate somebody's work: the potential cost of endorsing it publicly far outweighs the return. You'll only find art critics endorsing something that's politically and/or socially correct, or something that's so far off the reservation that it can be elevated to the position of a Public Debate: Maplethorpe, or the elephant dung work, to pick something recent.

    Shake off the doldrums of the critics' comments. All criticism has some merit, but you have to take it with a certain sense of detachment: they aren't questioning your worth, or depth, or parentage: rather, they are talking about your works in toto. If you work to please critics, you'll produce work that will only be appreciated by critics. Apply yourself, instead, to exploring your own thoughts and feelings and reactions. Trust your gut, not your brain. Brains lie and prevaricate, your guts never do.

    I hate to say this, but I have to: steel yourself for the possibility that your work comes across as graphic design. This doesn't have to be a bad thing (witness the Absolut Vodka ads -- I don't think anybody will argue that they are art as well as graphic design), but it it a valid criticism. Keep working to trancend the graphic design aspects. I noticed that your job at SAIR Inc was as a graphic designer. This mixing of work and recreation will happen, regardless of how you try to separate them, but to allow your work to grow, you will have to work to prevent this as much as possible.

    Let me ask you: your computer at home, where is it located? In a home office? In your living room? I will argue that this is the wrong thing to do if you're trying to produce "true art" with it. If you must have a computer at home to do work on, separate the two: buy a separate computer to producing art with. Put it in a separate room where you only work for art. Surround your "studio" with beauty, in whatever forms you find beautiful. Art, in my not-so-humble opinion, is like any other form of work: you cannot do it in inappropriate surroundings. You would no more do office-work at a resort than you will produce art in sterile, non-stimulating environs. When you're working on art, do not let yourself be distracted by phones, faxes, or other intrusions: turn off the ringer, unplug the fax, toss the beeper in a drawer, set your mobile phone to vibrate and store it on your dresser.

    I like to draw on easels -- some find a drafting table better, i like easels and low stools. My workspace is in flux at the moment, but I used to keep the easel next to the computer with a big newsprint pad and a 9B pencil for quick ideas close at hand, with bristol board and more delicate instruments easily available, with all my Ansel Adams calendars littering the walls, the stereo playing inspiring music (always separate the music from the computer, too, or dedicate a computer to the music: you don't want the tunes to stutter while Photoshop is calculating a Gaussian Blur or Strata 3D is rendering a snapshot). Much work was done there.

    (I wonder, would hacking be better in such an environment? Worth an experiment, methinks)

    To summarize: chin up, my brother. Don't despair if your work is frowned upon. Keep working to improve yourself (using your own metrics, not some disinterested 3rd party's), and let the creative juices flow freely. Be proud of your work regardless of the critcism, and keep an eye out for the valid criticism that does happen. Also, post a link that shows the work in question, if you can. I think we'd all like to see it, and the Slashdot crowd with fill your Inbox with lots of criticism. *grin*

  • I haven't seen your work, but maybe the local critics just didn't like your stuff. Or maybe they're a little behind the curve in Little Rock (and in the student ghettos of northern Michigan). Art created with computers and even art "generated" by computers has been accepted just fine for decades now.. as long as it's good art.

    For instance: Wolfgang Tillmans won the recent Turner Prize, and some of his work was digitally processed. He's an artist, I'd think. More to the point, about a month ago I saw a solo show by a guy named Dan Torop. On the walls were a mix of digitally-enhanced landscape photos (trees and water, mostly) and computer-generated landscapes )(again, of trees and water). Those were half decent, but what I really liked were a couple of computer installation pieces in the middle of the main gallery. One was a navigable VR model of the show itself, including the pictures on the walls... and the computers in the midddle of the room. The other, best of all, was a Racter-like "random poetry generator" that slowly poked out line after line of random pseudotext poetry seeded heavily with David Bowie lyrics and read aloud by an old-school speech synthesizer. It was art. No doubt about it. I didn't see or hear anyone arguing that it wasn't.

    Maybe you need to move to a more receptive community. Or maybe you need to ask yourself if the work you were showing meant anything and could move anyone (to laughter, tears, rage, deep thought, lust or whatever). Are your programs that generate images designed to generate images that provoke people to feel something in any of these ways? Did they succeed? That's how I figure out if something's art. Don't know about you.
  • Even the great French impressionists were snubbed by the mainstream art circles when they started out. Can you imagine what people would say if a gallery refused to show off a Monet because they didn't consider it "art"? Yet, this is exactly what happened.

    Don't worry, they'll love you when you are dead.

  • Too bad you did not give a link to your work, I'd love to have a look at it.

    It is possible that your art was poorly reviewed not because it was computer-generated but because it was - well, sorry - not up to their standards.

  • When photography was gaining popularity, the painters and the fine art establishment derided it as not being an art form in that anybody could push a button and make a portrait. Now, we have a divergence where the modern and post modern painters have gotten less and less attached to reality in their imagery, and photographers are manipulating natural phenomena to create art.

    This was a major theme in a prerequisite class I had to take (history of communication and technology) as a multimedia art major in college.

    Yep, not only do a lot of artists and academics in the field of art consider digital technology as an artistic tool, universities teach is as focus on top of a core fine art curriculum.

    It's easy to think of the art establishment as forward thinking, but they are humans, and as such, as stubborn and rooted in their ways as any establishment.

    Create, show your work. In 50 years, we'll be the ones reminding them that they failed to take art history to heart.
  • There are 4 aspects to Art

    The philosopher Ken Wilber [] theorises that there are two basically irreducible axes to the Kosmos. These are "In/Out" and "One/Many" -- and basically "everything" can be mapped onto a diagram formed of these four quadrants.

    [imagine nice four quadrant diagram here that got interpreted as "Junk character post." by slashcode]

    Upper left quadrant [Inside/One] : Subjective Individual. Here art is self expression. Art is the way an individual mind expresses it's own meanings. I as Artist place meaning in my work, and so long as I live and view my work, that meaning exists for me. It's art to me, for this is how I choose to express myself.

    Lower right quadrant [Inside/Many] : Intersubjective Culture. We as a society of members who share meanings, who talk to each other, who communicate, must all understand and agree upon the meaning of the words and ideas we use. Memes jump from mind to mind, travelling through the network of shared brain power. Collectively, art is what we can agree to put in an art gallery, championed by academia, and the movement of History.

    Upper right [Outer/One] : Objective Individual. Art, regardless of it's meaning, each art artefact has a physical presence, and objective materiality, be it canvas, oils, faeces, or a VDU. Whatever the idea looked like in the artist's mind, this is how it's physically manifested.

    Lower right [Outer/Many] : This is similar to the previous, except it's about the physical structures that house the art, like galleries and computer networks. Libraries and books. Again, it all has to have physical presence, or the only way I'd get to see your art is through a Vulcan mind-meld.

    Ken Wilber emphasises that ALL FOUR QUADRANTS are necessary, and equally valuable. This means that it's ok for an artist to call his work art, because that is true for the artist. But for anyone else to call it art, the society has to recognise it as art--but this does not contradict the artist. Your art may be unrecognised for years. But for you it's still art. And lastly, whatever the meaning of the art, it has to have physical form, like a collage of newspaper cuttings, or via a computer and projection screen. Note that there's no meaning in the object itself. Only the minds of the viewers or the artist can "hold" the meaning.

    Some people think art is "paintings" or "landscapes" or "what's in art galleries". Each of these definitions unconsciously priviledges one quadrant. But Wilber's point is that every quadrant is important, because none of the quadrants can be reduced or collapsed into the others.

    Disclaimer: please check out the essays on Wilber's site [], and don't rely on my bastard presentation of his ideas.

  • I'm going to say that it depends.

    As a professional artist who is plenty familiar with computers, I confess that I have seen darn few computer works that I would consider much more than graphic design or technical exercises, so your professors and critics aren't coming out of left field.

    Wholly computer-generated works that rise to the level of fine art could probably be counted on a few fingers (though I can't think of any of the top of my head).

    Works of fine art with computers which are NOT wholly computer-generated, however, are more abundant. Montage and collage have entered a whole new era thanks to the flexibility in computers that the physical materials don't have.

    "The art critics ... the same response from art professors ... and from other schools"

    This quote could have come from practically any time before a new art movement took place. So be heartened that you may be the lucky one to prove them all fools and secure your spot in history -- not many have the opportunity to do so, and since computers aren't disappearing anytime soon, I would consider it inevitable that SOMEONE will indeed take advantage of the tools to create new works that we consider fine art.

    The bad news is that this isn't a medium, its a tool much more general than that. So first you'll have to figure out *something* more specific than just "computer-generated" to begin a meaningful search.

    It would be as if flat surfaces were invented for the first time, you would still have the option of all your mediums, all your surfaces, all your techniques. You couldn't call cave-painting "THE way of making art on a flat surface" any more than you could say duck canvas cloth is defined by oil painting (or vice-versa).

    Computers don't impose any limitation analogous to those you see in "normal" fine arts -- not in technique, or method, or time or space or even which sense(s) you appeal to. So there's a heck of a lot of decisions you'll have to make to even start experimenting.

    And there's a heck of a lot of learning and experiencing we'll have to do to get to the point where people can recognize that what is being created isn't merely a program or a mathematical equation, but has the requisite creativity and emotive content to be admitted to the club of "fine art".

    It took several decades for the fine art world to accept the notion of using acrylic paints instead of oil -- you might be overly optimistic to anticipate them embracing an entirely new way of doing EVERYTHING in the short few years that it has even been possible.

    And we'll long have to fight the notion that somehow the computer is doing the real "creating".

    So yes, you're right, but you better have some damn good work to back it up if you want to change the world and convince everyone else of it :P

    (Why do I have a terrible suspicion that this story will inspire links to the most horrid examples of amateurish CGI and filter-abused GIMP work imaginable?)

  • Art is, in a very loose definition, anything you do creatively, if it inspires you, go with it.


    Joseph Beuys defined art as any task undertaken for the love of the task. Designing and coding free software is most definitely art by this definition, and so is the kind of computer art this poster describes.

    Quoting Beuys:

    "Creativity isn't the monopoly of artists. This is the crucial fact I've come to realise, and this broader concept of creativity is my concept of art. When I say everybody is an artist, I mean everybody can determine the content of life in his particular sphere, whether in painting, music, engineering, caring for the sick, the economy or whatever. All around us the fundamentals of life are crying out to be shaped or created. But our idea of culture is severely restricted because we've always applied it to art. The dilemma of museums and other cultural institutions stems from the fact that culture is such an isolated field, and that art is even more isolated: an ivory tower in the field of culture surrounded first by the whole complex of culture and education, and then by the media which are also part of culture. We have a restricted idea of culture which debases everything; and it is the debased concept of art that has forced museums into their present weak and isolated position. Our concept of art must be universal and have the interdisciplinary nature of a university, and there must be a university department with a new concept of art and science".
    Next time you are in a crit like that one start quoting Beuys. That should shut them up.

    Better yet, start making real computer art --> Free software...

  • I don't know about anyone else, but I've been making fine art on computers for the last 7 years. Most people who are into this sort of thing never question whether what they are producing is considered art or not. It's everyone else that seems to have the problem. Which is fine, most artists I know make art for themselves, not to seek acceptance and validation from everyone else.
  • But how is this different from photography? Photographers aren't sculptors, they use real objects and creatures, play with the lighting, and hit the shutter.

    Meanwhile, there are billions of amateur photographers out there who aren't creating art of any kind. Sounds exactly like computer graphics to me. . .
  • Just another day of casual Slashdot punditry on issues that people have been arguing about for centuries. Surely, the top moderated posts will have a definitive answer for us?

    While we're looking into the small matter of what constitutes art, we will surely have some time to look back on previous debates settled by this forum:

    What is the definition of life? ("I can't believe that [insert name] is such a [big company] whore.").
    Are humans rational beings? ("First post! My whang is a laser that will illuminate all of the world with justice!").
    Does God exist? ("I haven't read the article, but check out my homepage with pictures of lego boobies").

    We really tackle the tough ones here, and we win.
  • The art critics there claimed that computer-generated art was not a 'fine art' but more of a graphic design, regardless of the quality of the work.
    I've noticed something about so-called 'artist' and their attitude toward the marketplace. They always like to see themselves as being superior to the average person, as if the they're the embodiment of intellectual refinement.

    For instance, I was listening to talk radio a couple weeks ago. The head of the local opera group was being interviewed and taking questions from callers under the premise "Justify Yourself". The host was inviting people who took public money and having them justify to the public why they should recieve that money. The cost for a seat at the opera was $17, and the opera received $40,000 from the city. By raising the cost of a ticket to $21, the opera would not be reliant on the city for anything. They would be totally self-sufficient. The interviewee kept going back to how the opera 'enriches' the community, and that the community should 'give something back'. I don't like the opera (yes, I've attended, and it sucked), so I don't see how they've given anything back to me, but that's not the point.

    The point is that in my view, the interviewee was reluctant to give up the grant from the city not because it would cause the opera company to go under, but because he would then feel like a 'commercial' entity as opposed to an 'artistic' one. He couldn't then walk around with his nose in the air and feel himself above all the 'wage slaves' masses, 'cause he would be one of them. You can forget that the vast majority of the companies income was from ticket sales, it only takes a small grant from a 'higher source' that allows him to 'follow his dream' as opposed to 'working for the man'. With the untethered money from the government, he can be a free spirit that is not sullied by commercial interest.

    I see the same dynamic at work here. Art professors who claim that graphic design is not art? Fuck them!! Some of the most beautiful art I've seen has been in advertisements. Coca Cola is one company that has done an excellent job of making their advertisements very artistic. Just look at the number of commercials that had different genres of music, but all had the underlying Coca Cola jingle. Just beautiful in my opinion. But of course, to the low-paid college professor, these can't be art, because to be art the artist must be living in a rat infested motel while starving.

    If their argument is that your work isn't 'art' because it's done on a computer, which is a tool for 'graphic design', then what they are saying is that your work looks like something that people pay money for. Take thier derission with pride. Do your classwork in whatever medium they ask it to be done in, and get your good grades. Continue being creative on your computer in your free time. Then look forward to a life of eating well in your own nice, rat-free kitchen while doing what you like after graduation. In other words, laugh at their haughty asses.

  • Robert Bateman is a Canadian artist. He is world renouned for his paintings. Generally they are wildlife paintings that are quite lifelike. While his work has appeared around the world the Vancouver Art Gallery repeatedly refused to show his work because they did not consider it anything more than 'illustrations'.

    (I believe they may have since had a show of his stuff.)

    The art community is full of biggots. They like what they like, and despise what they despise, but in the end the will not acknowledge that it is just some trumped up opinion based on nothing but snobbery.

    And you expect them to appreciate art done on a computer? Get real.

    First theywould have to understand it, and their guide books to understanding art don't include descriptions of computer art.

  • What you say is true, to a point.

    Here is an example. A friend of mine uses a 3d modeling application. (AM for those who care). He grabs wireframes from other people, and to my knowledge has never created one of his own. He then spends hours arranging the various models, and renders the image.

    Now what comes out, when he is done, is quite beatiful. He has done some truly wonderful images. But here in lies the he an artist?

    I would say no, mostly because the wireframes aren't his. But that is a pretty fine line. All of the arrangement is his, and the final image would not look the same, even using the same wireframes, if he had not arranged them just as he did.

    I believe that this is a major factor in people dismissing anything coming out of a computer as art. In the above case, the 'artist', (and believe me I use the term loosly) doesn't have to worry about light/shadow. He just tries various models with various lighting sources and just keeps re-rendering until it looks right. I understand how more traditional artists view this as less than art. Additionally, the perception that most/all art that is created on a computer is done this way probably hinders many peoples acceptance of the computer as a tool for creating true art.

    So what you say is true, if the computer is being used as a tool, like a brush. But if used to simply render out images, where the entire input of the 'artist' is to just keep moving the objects and pushing a render button....that debate is still open on that IMHO.

  • It's not a fine art if it requires skills that established fine artists lack.
  • What you are facing is probably not only ignorance, but a common reaction against a new form/medium that all new "art forms" have experienced in their times. It is akin to the mocking photography received in its early days before it too became "fine art".

    Tragically, you will probably end up dead before such recognition takes place, but perhaps you won't, given the rate at which computers (and the graphics they can show) are pervading society at an ever increasing rate.

    Computers provide something not many other "fine arts" can - interactivity. Especially in the graphics arena. Simply creating a graphic, sending it to a printer, or photo print system, or projecting it as a still, or similar - is fine, but it doesn't truely allow for what the computer excels at. If you use the machine as a tool, find out how to interact with it differently, so that the creation of the final art, while computer generated, also has that "touch" of the artist (here is an idea - create a system by which you control a CNC milling machine on a block of steel with a computer, through which you interact and guide the system via a funky Theremin-like interface - even the act of creation could be viewed as performance art). Or, allow the audience "viewing" the "work" to cause the work to change over time, given guidelines by you, the artist (hmm - how about this, think of an audience surrounding a large, deep box, which has sand, or some other material in it, a grid of tubes, and a computer controlled pneumatic system, that would cause the sand to "bubble" and such based on audience "sound" and "motion" input - perhaps taken via video feeds).

    Artists have done this kind of art before with computers - I don't think you will get very far though with straight graphic designs, but I wouldn't consider it impossible. Perhaps you could back project the images onto a dome, or somehow immerse the audience in the work (the presentation of the art can be as important as the art itself - sometimes the presentation is the art!)...

    Maybe I should have become an artist...

    Then again, maybe I don't know jack about art, and you should ignore me?

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • by bravehamster ( 44836 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @03:07PM (#128519) Homepage Journal

    Humans using computers to create art will take a very long time to be accepted as a fine art form. The reason for this are numbers. Because numbers are involved, because they are exact, because they lack the ambiguity that makes art human, it will be a long time before full acceptance into the art community. Most art instructors that I've dealt with see computer art as a form of Paint-by-the-Numbers. No room for individual artistic talent (in their minds) because you can do something exactly the same, over and over, and another person can sit down and make the exact same thing, in every way identical.

    There is something about this that is abhorrent to the average art instructors mind that they fail to see the multitude of possibilities inherent in computer art. _They_ will never accept it because someone "untalented" can create something to be proud of with little or no training. What they don't realize is how hard it is to move from that stage to the truly artistic level.

    That being said, I personally feel that it is art, and even a fine art. Of course my definition of art also includes architecture, code, etc. Anything involving a human mind and a medium in which to work can become art. All you need is an artist.

  • There's a great magazine printed in Australia (Design Graphics -- []) that give both tips for artists using computers, info about new programs and hardware coming out [stuff like monitor reviews, high end digital camera comparisons, etc], but they also have occasional interviews with artists, and some samples.

    There have been some phenomenal pieces of art in there, and not all of them are done completely on computers. [Just go to their web site, and look at the covers of the recent issues]. An exceptional artist isn't bound to any one media. Some may shun computers as they don't know how to use them, but that doesn't mean that it's not an art form. Yes, it may all be represented by a series of numbers, but that doesn't mean that we can't scan one of van Gogh's works at a high resolution, and accurately reproduce almost pixelated quality of his works. [yes, we won't have the full texture, but the average person wouldn't notice].

    There is a learning curve associated with computer art. A great painter may not be able to immediately produce with the same quality as with a brush. But they'd have the same issues when they're working with a chisel and block of marble. An artist, however, knows what looks good, and what they need to do to bring out emotions in the viewer. The method that they use to create the art that evokes the emotion is insignificant. I don't see how anyone can take a look at Toy Story and tell me that it's not an art form to get the computer generated models to behave to realisticly.
  • Is the art "computer-generated" as in a computer program generated it, or "computer-generated" as in it was a tool a real human used to create the art (through Photoshop, whatever).

    In the latter case, I would think that it could still be considered "art proper". The former case though might be a little tricky - there is nothing the computer is trying to "get accross", no emotion it's trying to convey. That doesn't stop humans from appreciating it, but if one includes some sort of impetus of the artist in the definition of art, then perhaps that fails.
  • ..why anyone, much less an artist, should care about the opinion of the art critics in Little Rock, Arkansas has to say about your work.

    Remember, Art Critics are the kind of cretins who fawn all over any asshole in a beret who pelts his audience with raw liver and screeches about how he's being oppressed by not receiving public funding for pissing on a picture of Elenor Roosevelt.

    Keep copies of those reviews, and bring them out in twenty years or so. Those clowns will sound just like the idiots in the 1860s who claimed that photography wasn't a Fine Art.

  • I've posted something similar above so mod me as you will...

    I think digital art forms age quite differently than others. While old photographs have a very cool appearance, old digital images (old video games, images, what have you) have a way of just looking tacky.

    It's a bit like Comic Books as art. Looking back on old comics, it's hard to see real "Art" as opposed to nifty cultural artifacts. Anyone arguing that comic books could be art back in the 1940s wouldn't have had much to support themselves on. But now there is a (small) number of artists producing really great things with that medium, check out the work of Chris Ware and Dan Clowes to see what I'm talking about.

    Also even modern digital images show too much of the medium. They are very identifiably digital and seem to be making statements about technology regardless of what they portray. Hmmmm... maybe a better analogy: digital art today is painting in pre-reniassance Europe, the form has to evolve some before the art can escape the trappings of the medium.

  • If you want to really piss off the detractors of computer-produced art, just say:
    "OK, I understand it now. Since the art-snob world can't make any middleman money off of reselling work in my infinitely-reproducible medium, what I do is clearly not art. Thanks for clarifying the relationship between art and money for me."
  • I used to work with Dr. Ken Knowlton. He was a pioneer in computer generated art in the 60's and 70's.
  • I appreciate the point being made. I judge from the comments being made that there Slashdot isn't heavily populated by connoisseurs of fine collectibles. We must beware the velvet elvis. Why do things "look cheap"? Because we learn, through experience, that they are, in fact, cheap.

    I would make the following distinction: Ansel Adams was an artist. A third generation copy of one of his photographs, on poster paper, taped to a dorm room wall, is not art.

    If you think your Nastassja Kinski and the Snake poster is art, take the following litmus test: bring your precious poster to an art gallery, and ask them to exhibit it. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

    I think what we're left with, in the case of digital creation, is a rather paradoxical situation. There can still be great *artists*. Rally great. But not great *art*. Just pop art. Which is fine as far as it goes. Just don't brag about your fine collection.
  • Wow, I guess that means using an eraser is out of the question, then?

    Artists don't create something perfectly the first time around. It take a sketch, and then many refinings of that sketch to even begin a decent drawing.

    Edit/undo is a tool. Just a particularly powerful one.
  • I suggest you read Scott McCloud []'s book, Reinventing Comics []. He tackles the same self-deprecating issues that face comic artists throughought the last century.

    Even legendary comic artists decided that what they were producing wasn't "art." When discussing Will Eisner's political views, the reknowned Rube Goldberg (of bizarre contraption comic fame) said, "Bullshit! What we do is not art! We're vaudevillians! And don't you ever forget that." (Not to mention that even vaudeville stage acts are a form of art!)

    If you express yourself, it's art. If you didn't do it to further some physical need, it can be argued, then it may be art.

    Scott McCloud also comments constantly about micropayments, writer's rights versus the big publishers, and other issues I see as near-and-dear to the software developer. His focus is on comics, but I see a LOT that applies to non-comics industries like software engineering.

  • Salvidor Dali never imatated the masters, he was always trying to get people to notice him and believe he was crazy.

    He did that too, but he also began by following accepted schools of art. His earliest work is alternately Impressionist or Cubist for the most part, and "Basket of Bread" (1926) is a still life very much in the old style although still unmistakably Daliesque. Here is a gallery of Dali's paintings [], and I recommend you check out the earliest pieces. Even at the age of 6, he was strongly Impressionist.

  • by CaptainCarrot ( 84625 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @03:14PM (#128549)
    Elephant feces are a valid medium for fine art, but computer graphics aren't? Hmph!

    I think you're just running into resistance against a new medium. New media, and the new art forms that inevitably accompany it, always encounter resistance from the art establishment.

    Salvador Dali once said something like, "Whatever you do, begin by painting like the old masters. After that, no one will ever question what you do." An astute observation (and an approach that worked for him; he began his career as an Impressionist) but like any brilliant insight it's obvious in retrospect. If computer graphics are not yet a medium for fine art, it's mostly because there are no established artists who say it is. It's easy for critics to dismiss any new movement composed soley of newcomers to the art world; it's more difficult to do so when it's participated in by artists who are more well-known and respected. I think you will need to gain acceptance for yourself first, by working in more traditional media. Once you're already known for your fine art, it will be presumed that anything you create is also fine art. That will be the time to introduce computer graphics into your corpus of work.

  • find some of the advice being dished out here pretty outta control

    Here's some facts:

    1) It doesn't make sense to say pixels aren't accepted by the "art world" when SFMOMA is hosting a big show of online art ( Sure, some people around your parts may not wear it, and there's even a famous Australian critic who still writes in major newspapers that photography is "on the verge of being accepted as an art form", but generally those involved in setting agendas for contemporary art are up with technology.

    The key thing to remember is that there are *a lot of different "art worlds"*. Choose your world carefully!

    2) If you're really serious about computers as art and read slashdot, I'm surprised that you haven't come across all the sites which show online art such as, which has an advisory panel represeneting of all the major contemporary public museums in the US. If you have a look around you will find there are plenty of places looking for digital work. You would get a low grade for your research component in my class! Sign up for some mailing lists where digital artists hang out, such as nettime. You'll get a picture of what opportunities are available and the kinds of aesthetic ideas people are working with.

    3) I think you need to ask yourself how seriously you are interested in engaging with contemporary discourses on art, versus applying your knowledge of historical art practices to computer graphics. Contrary to one poster, the "people who discuss the term 'art'" are precisely the ones who are advancing digital media within the art context.

    To have your work accepted as "art", you really need to devote yourself to fully understanding this context. If you apply yourself to the study of innovative works of art created in the last 40 years, you will find they have plenty to offer about finding an appropriate context for your work. Flip through some magazines like Artforum, frieze, etc. These are mainstream magazines and you'll see digital art in them. Rip out the appropriate pages to show to your professor!

    Good luck,

  • What do we, or they, or anyone, consider to be art? To me, "fine art" (in this sense) is any creative expression through a visual medium. You may hold a different personal definition. Is a bunch of paint splatters art? To some people yes, to some no. Is a cartoon art? Again, some would say no, though many would say yes. I happen to prefer Monet paintings to Navajo blankets, but that does not make either one more or less worthy of the moniker "art." Art is in the eye of the beholder. Unfortunately, many of those in the art world have a vested interest in keeping art defined in a very narrow way that suits them.

    It took many years before cartoonists were regarded as artists, and in many circles cartooning is still seen as "lesser art" than painting or sculpting. Computer-based art, art though it is, has a long road ahead before it will break through similar prejudices in the art community.


  • I mostly agree, but I'd point out that some established art forms use numbers. Music, for instance, is mathematical at heart. And what about a sculptor welding up a big steel monstrosity? It might look like a random pile of junk to the observer, but I'll bet a tape measure and some calculations were behind it.
  • Im not sure if its art, but I heard a few years back about an "artist" the NEA was funding who masturbated and took pictures of his sperm as it fell to the ground ... if that is "art" your friend is still miles ahead of him.
  • Aye. "I'll know art when I see it" is so often used as an excuse to disguise the subjective as objecive. It may not take a generation any longer for most people to recognize a new form of art - but in this case, the problem is that those in power have a "the world is this way and it's always gonna be this way" attitude, and will project that attitude on their institution until personal death or retirement. While their replacements will have a more up to date vision of how the world is, far too often, they just ossify into the same attitude with regard to further changes.

    Still, one can hope that, as the pace of change in human society speeds up, believing that the world does not change will become more and more obviously preposterous (and thus, less and less common).
  • Art is about expressing ideas, not about how unique or collectible the product is. A photograph can be fine art even though an almost unlimited number of copies can be made from the negative,

    Well, yes and no. Your heart's in the right place, but when it gets down to brass tacks, I have to disagree. Remember two point, though. First, we're talking about *visual* arts, so mixing in discussions of music and poetry aren't really valid. Words and notes are different from pictures. Also, remember that the original poster was talking about "fine art" and how it is distinguished from other types of art.

    With that said, the definition I've always used for fine art is something that will be bought by some rich idiot to hang on his walls to impress a bunch of black-dressed New York snobs that he invites to a once-a-year cocktail party so that he can feel "with it." It doesn't matter what kind of crap it is. It just has to be expensive.

    The problems with photographs are exactly as you state - they can be reproduced ad infinitum, though lots of copies require some labor and expense. Computer graphics are even worse in this regard; they can be reproduced ad infinitum with very, very little labor and expense.

    So why are early prints more valuable than later ones? More valuable than estate prints? Why are hand-printed-by-the-photographer, limited edition monographs more expensive than high-quality custom silver prints turned out in large numbers? Why are platinum/palladium one-of-a-kind fine art photographic prints so highly prized? Why are top-drawer fine art paintings more expensive still? Because in each case, if the tools and methods used to create the art necessarily enforce rarity, then simple economics kicks in and the price goes up.

    Consider this - Why can some photos be sold for much higher prices after the photographer announces that s/he has destroyed the negatives? Rarity. Why was there a minor panic in certain parts of the photographic fine art world when it was discovered that Ansel Adams had NOT destroyed some negatives that he said he had burned? Because the rarity of the prints derived from those negatives was now only theoretical.

    Like it or not, for something to be called enduring fine art it has to be something that people will pay a lot of money for. "Fine art for the masses" is a contradiction in terms.

    If I wanted to produce fine visual art using a computer, I'd burn the best possible large-format negative, use that to produce 2 or 3 platinum prints on ceramic-coated titanium plates, then destroy both the internegative and the original file. And even then, I'd have a hard time convincing buyers that a backup of the file doesn't exist somewhere and that those really expensive prints I'm trying to sell won't be duped by the thousands 20 years from now.

    Computer files as fine art has a long way to go. Never fear, though. It took photography, my personal passion, a couple of lifetimes to get any respect from the fine art world.

  • With that said, the definition I've always used for fine art is something that will be bought by some rich idiot to hang on his walls to impress a bunch of black-dressed New York snobs that he invites to a once-a-year cocktail party so that he can feel "with it." It doesn't matter what kind of crap it is. It just has to be expensive.

    I don't think that the fact that someone is willing to lay down a big chunk of cash for an artwork makes it inherently more valuable.

    Agreed, agreed, agreed.

    However, the willingness of people to lay down a big chunk of cash for something does seem to figure rather prominently in whether or not museums and others call that something "fine art" or "a nice picture." After all, those paintings on museum walls are almost always worth big dollars. Cash-strapped museums don't just "de-accession" their donated crap; sometimes they sell stuff they should be displaying. They usually issue some sort of statement about "refining the focus of the collection," but the bottom line is that they get big bucks.

    Like it or not, no artworks gets accepted by the art establishment as "musuem-quality fine art" without a big price tag. Why do up-and-coming artists salivate at the thought of a prestigious gallery show? Because it lends them legitimacy, helps get them accepted, and, as an inseparable component of the process, it increases the price tag of their works.

    You are quite right that digital artworks will be tremendously valuable to viewers. All good art makes the world a better place and that's a pretty valuable function.

    But just because digital artists are producing (spiritually, not monetarily) valuable artworks doesn't mean that profs, curators, critics, or collectors will ever refer to their work product as "fine art." Digital artists need to find a way to make their works rare, even artificially so, before they and their works will be taken seriously by the money-game-playing art establishment. And acceptance by the establishment was what the original poster was seeking.

  • No room for individual artistic talent (in their minds) because you can do something exactly the same, over and over, and another person can sit down and make the exact same thing, in every way identical.

    What's funny is that Roy Lichtenstein actually addressed this in the 1960s...
    See Image Duplicator [].

  • I am the son of a professor of art history. At the last university where he worked, there was one member of his department who as of about 5 years ago works exclusively with computers to create his 2-D art. He certainly is not a particularly unique case. Currently, my dad runs the Department of Art & Design [] at Southwest Missouri State University. If you take a look at their website, you'll see that they offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts in, for example, "Image Production", or in "Computer Animation". This is a serious, well-known program at a regional university, and again it is not at all a unique case.

    I think what causes most people to think of "computer graphics" as something other than fine art is that unless they are being created purely as "art" people ignore everything but their functional use. But then again, as my father would lecture at you for hours on end, "art" is hardly just stuff to look at.

  • by fluxrad ( 125130 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @03:29PM (#128602) Homepage
    most of that shit people slop on to canvases and take pictures of isn't even art ;-)

    the problem is that people, in general, are getting too wrapped up in the medium. The dogma has become: Music = Art, Painting = Art, Drawing = Art, Photography = Art.

    Art is that which enriches the soul. However that thing that gives you an introspective into yourself and helps you know you better is formed is completely irrelevant. Painting != Art. Drawing != Art.

    So to answer your question: No. Computer generated graphics is not art. If you can generate something on a computer that makes people really think and come away from it a better person, then that is art.

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network

  • regardless if the medium is stone, wood, paper, canvas, or a computer... it matters not.
  • Before starting, stain your printing paper liberally with urine tracks.

    Next, I'd suggest adding a cross, some blood and maybe dab a bit of faeces or vomit here and there.

    Before 'mounting' your 'art', get liquored up and roll around in it on your bed as you have unprotected sex with your animal(s) of choice.

    Now, that will get you rave reviews and you'll be the toast of the New York, LA and San Francisco galleries!

    Treatment, not tyranny. End the drug war and free our American POWs.
  • by Gorobei ( 127755 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @04:32PM (#128608)
    True, but for every Van Gogh, there are a thousand bad artists doing "new stuff."

    It's hard to judge the conservatism of the critics without seeing the artist's work. My bet, however, is that if the work was really great, the issue of "computer art, is it really art?" wouldn't even come up. 99.9% of all college art major art is crap. Sorry, but that is the reality, the medium doesn't make a difference.

    For example, defacing billboards is art when done well, however most billboard defacement is just junk. Same with graffitti, fighting robots, etc.

    So far, the only good computer art I've seen is by the dude that did historical scenes in a "the sims" like setting. (was a /. article, but I can't find it.)

    I don't mean to sounds too negative negative, but if you're in college and complaining that your medium is not treated seriously, I suggest you either ignore the critics and do your thing, or switch to acrylics, graduate with a B average, and look forward to a career as a Red Lobster manager.

  • SFMOMA [] currently has an exhibit with a heavy emphasis on computers. But I think it's instructive -- very few of the pieces could ever be construed as "graphic design." Without seeing the show in question, it's hard to say whether it was unfairly painted or whether it really was graphic design masquerading as art. But I think you're going to be fighting an uphill battle if your computer-generated art isn't some sort of statement about technology itself. Using a digital canvas just isn't very thought provoking in itself.
  • My question is: am I alone in believing that computer-generated work is valid field of fine arts?

    You most certainly are not alone. Computer based work may be too cutting-edge for old fuddy-duddies, but it most certainly is not for Modern Art lovers. I'm a member of The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art [] and they most certainly have their share of computer based work in their exhibitions. They even have a digital gallery [] on their web site, which is part of their ongoing program of encouraging computer-based artwork. To quote:

    MOCA is guided by the conviction that digital technology provides new avenues for artistic exploration, new ways to enhance experience within the museum, and a new means for artists to reach a much larger audience throughout the broader culture.

    So some people in fine arts most certainly do support computer artwork.

  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Monday June 25, 2001 @03:41PM (#128613) Homepage

    What a load of crap! Art is about expressing ideas, not about how unique or collectible the product is. A photograph can be fine art even though an almost unlimited number of copies can be made from the negative, and the production of reproductions of famous artworks does nothing to devalue the original.

    One only has to look at fields other than the visual arts to see how ridiculous this view is. A novel or poem is an artwork, and nobody claims that it's any less significant just because it's printed or put on the web instead of hand-copied. A musical performance is a work of art whether or not it's being recorded for the masses to hear.

  • ...even modern digital images show too much of the medium.

    And this is why art critics always complain about texture and brush lines and whatnot when they look at what should otherwise be considered a beautiful painting? That's bullshit, and you know it.

    Hear! Hear! This is a very good point. You can make an even stronger one, though, by looking at grain in photography. It's an artifact of the process used to make the image, but people are now absolutely attached to it. Why? Because they know how to use it to artistic effect. They can use the grain in the picture to enchance what it is that they want the photograph to say.

    I expect that people in the not too distant future will say the same thing about various digital artifacts. They'll figure out all sorts of uses for pixelation and compression artifacts and even deliberately introduce them into works that didn't have them in the first place just for their artistic effect. Pretty soon everyone will be so used to them that they won't even consider the fact that at one time they were considered to be undesirable and to detract from the artwork.

  • Sculpture, paintings, and the like all have one thing in common: they are each completely unique. When you buy a work of those arts, you know you have something that is one-of-a-kind. It was created at one time by the artist's hand, and no copy or duplicate will ever be just like it.

    I know of a couple of major curators who would probably disagree with that statement, as well as some art historians. Prints by Durer are considered art, as well as works by Rodin which were reproduced by the artist in several different media.

    Also, lets not forget the late great Andy Warhol, who bought a cheap-ass snow shovel, stuck it in a corner, and called it art (an item which most folks in temperate climates have in their garage, and you can buy them at Ace too!). He also reproduced multiple images and sold them as originals, multiple copies thereof, which were sold as fine art.

    There is also the artist whose installation was a toilet manufactured by American Standard- but the title the artist gave the toilet, which intimated the ABSENCE of what he suggested, made it art according to the critics.

    Note that I refer to critics, curators and art historians as those who define what art is, and don't mention artists aside from the examples of what artists produce. That is because most artists couldn't give a fuck about whether someone defines their work as art or not. Artists work on actually producing something and leave "definitions of art" and other such fripperies to the art history majors who make their living on creating and marketing such concepts. Ok, the last statement was a bit overbroad...suffice it to say the artists I mean are those that I either know personally, have met who are currently making a living, those whose lives I have studied or have discussed with art historians and curators, etc, ad nauseum.

    Historically, artists cared (and still care) about using a medium that is cheap, an affordable medium which allows for something of a budget to make more work (and maybe, possibly enough money to also eat). This is how lithography came about in Italy, and how a number of media and techniques were developed. This also may tend to influence the desire of artists to step beyond the envelope of "art" defined by critics and find quality materials that are not overpriced. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but she is most often the bed partner of artists. Artists also know that they and their heirs will never likely see a damn cent from their sales, unless they are one of the lucky few who are able to market themselves into super-stardom either through prestigious patronage or a good publicity agency.

    So, while pixels on a monitor may not qualify as art to those non-artists who CURRENTLY discuss the meaning of the term "art", artists will go on using whatever is cheap and easy to get their ideas across the boundaries of their souls. If the kid wants to call his work art, well, it probably is art. Is it saleable art? No, and so it won't command any kind of definition of "art" by those who depend upon art's scarcity to make a living.


  • by startled ( 144833 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @03:05PM (#128628)
    Art critics are often much more closed-minded than they'd like to admit. There are one or two with vision, and the rest of them follow along with the current "scene". Maybe crosses dipped in piss are popular this year; next year they're passe; the year before they weren't art.

    Where a lot of the resistance is coming from, however, is the fact that art involving computers is often commercial. You'll see the same disdain towards commercial art-- people who paint pretty, inoffensive scenes for people to put in their homes. You see it in a lot of bigotry towards movies as an art form-- some justified, some not, but a lot of art critics display some degree of prejudice toward their movie critic counterparts. It's the commercial pressures-- obviously a starving painter isn't in it for the money, whereas Ridley Scott is fairly well off. (Side note: Scott's Bladerunner was actually showing on a television in the middle of an art exhibit at the Louisiana museum in Denmark. Very cool.)

    Are people doing things about it? Yes. A friend of mine was originally an art major at Stanford (one of, say, a couple dozen-- not exactly the usual track there), but changed to an individually designed major called Visual Studies in Computer Animation. She and a staff member or two worked fairly hard to squeeze a few bucks worth of computer equipment out of the school (while quad-proc machines were sitting unused in the Gates Building basement, but that's another story). Now there are several classes involving digital art and computer animation. There's also a building/room for SUDAC, Stanford University Digital Art Center. It's fairly tiny and not too well-funded, but it's a start.

    For a while, the art department didn't want anything to do with them. I'm not sure what their stance is now, though, since a lot of art students take digital art classes.

    Back to the original question, anything can be art if it offers sufficient revelation. It's often difficult to understand why artists, supposedly in pursuit of new insight, are so quick to dismiss a new medium. My guess is that it's because a lot of the early stuff is crap-- using computers for the sake of using computers, and not as a powerful tool for art. A few great things are starting to pop up here and there; I found a few nuggets at the SFMOMA digital art exhibit. A few years from now, I think the evidence will be irrefutable-- digital tools will powerfully change the way we experience art.
  • Speaking as an artist that has painted in both traditional mediums and computer based graphics, I don't think that you have a hope of seeing the current stigma changing during the course of your career.

    The words 'fine art' are typically used in referring to valuable pieces of work, usually an artwork that is one of a kind, that contains some special qualities over and above other forms of artwork. Above all, a fine art should express the emotion and style of the artist, and should be unique to that particular artist.

    Computer assisted artworks lack these qualities. On top of the fact that they can be easily duplicated (which lowers their value considerably), they are also confined by their lack of texture and limitations in resolution. They are cold creations, etched onto screens or printed onto paper. They simply are not deserving of the term 'fine art'.

    Tell me, would you prefer to own the original Mona Lisa, or a digitised print?

    Computer generated art is still art, but the boundaries between what constitutes art and 'fine art' should be respected. It is unfortunate that you were snubbed, but such criticism should be expected. In future this may change, but you should accept the limitations of computer assisted artworks as they stand at this point in time.

  • When you buy a work of those arts, you know you have something that is one-of-a-kind.

    OK, so it's art if I can PAY for it? So would that be something like "it's not a real operating system unless you pay for it." As for one of a kind, Andy Worhal made silkscreens of his art.

    A rung below these "fine arts" you have...

    You ass.

    Who are you to judge what value, what rung of the ladder a medium should be? What creative abilities do you have. Let us be your judge! Asshole!
  • by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @03:59PM (#128631) Homepage Journal
    Those who can, create. Those who can't become art critics.

    Fuck 'em. You're part of an important new art form that will be seen one day as legitimate as painting, sculpting, photography, or any other accepted form of art.

    Picasso wasn't understood during his early career. Van Gogh was ingored until well after his death. Michealangelo's rendering of the human form, known as contrapasto, was considered "twisted and agonized." Leonardo De Vinci, who taught us how to paint with light, was considered a nut. Mozzart's music was too complicated for the ear. Blah blah blah...

    Does history remember the names of art critics? NO. So why give a shit so long as what you do means something to you? Are you saying something when you create? That's where you should draw your convictions from. Not some asshole with a snobby opinion.

    Don't seek self-validation from other people. You'll be waiting a long time.
  • The art professors are behind the times. Two years ago, while talking to a couple of artists from the Paris art scene (who actually make a living out of creating art) they said:

    "Yeap, it's amazing. Nowadays pretty much every piece of art our friends create starts by turning on the Mac."

    "They first outline, sketch and play with it on the screen, and then proceed from there to whatever is the medium of their choice, including hitting the print button."

  • So, the same exists with photography, and I know a lot of people who would kick your ass if you suggested that photography is not fine art.
  • Blockquoth the poster:
    Yes, but it SEEMS easier. It's a lot easier to create something that looks like artwork ("hey I'll just take this photograph and apply three random filters... wow that looks nifty!") with photoshop than it is to do the same with paint.
    And there's the true danger in computers: For the truly gifted, they can make "good" talent transcendant... but for the banal, they make bad art easy. You can see it in almost any facet of computerization: Does word processing make it easier to write? Then more people write (generally) bad stuff... because the bar is lower. Can PowerPoint make presentations that really fly? Sure... but it also makes it easy to make horrid mutant presentations, the horror of which would have been inconceivable before.

    One of the challenges of the 21st century, especially for a creative type, is to make truly good stuff stand out against the vast noise of the now-too-easy. (And lest you think I'm being totally elitist, I admit to being one of those who make bad 3D art simply because POV-Ray [] is available and free.

  • Blockquoth the poster:
    Now what comes out, when he is done, is quite beatiful. He has done some truly wonderful images. But here in lies the he an artist? I would say no, mostly because the wireframes aren't his. But that is a pretty fine line
    So someone isn't an artist unless he makes the paint, the canvas, the brushes, etc., for himself? What about "found art"? At some point it becomes ridiculous to equate art with manufacture.

    On the other hand, someone who cuts up various masterpieces to make a collage might not be art... how much has to be original? And is anything really, truly, totally orginal, anyway?

  • Of course computer-generated art is art. Here's just one definition that I've seen:
    a.The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.
    When I was at Kansas State University ('91-'95), there were at least three showings of computer-generated art done by students. I remember being amazed at some of the forms that were created in this medium. You should consider where you are pursuing your discipline: the south. I don't remember the south ever being considered a hotbed of exploration of new forms of contemporary art. If you are really wanting to pursue computer-generated art, you should do some research; you might want to consider moving to somewhere that isn't quite so backwards and check out the art schools California, New York, Kansas City, Chicago, etc etc.

    Also, you should ignore the critics, since critics are typically those that can not produce such works themselves, which led to them becoming bitter and is why they became critics. As long as there are people that enjoy your's art. Hell, even if people hate's probably still art as long as you consider it to be. Art comes in many many forms and many people are slow to accept things they don't understand. There are several houses in the town I live in that I consider art due to their unique designs and I've seen "water pipes" at various music shops that qualify as art. If a bong can be art, computer-generated art can be art.
  • Given the target demographic here, you're mostl likely to find people who agree with you. There's a lot of people here who live and breathe computers. They're tools we use every day, for all sorts of tasks, and so the chance that we'd see them as a legitimate tool for expression is much higher.

    That said, I still do think that it's possible to create "fine art" using a computer. It's a different medium, certainly. That doesn't make it (in my eyes) any less legitimate. I've seen both purely computer generated art, and art which started as paper sketches only to be scanned and refined, that is of very high quality indeed - stuff which made me think "You did all that in Photoshop?" or something similar.

    The art world - especially the world of "fine arts" tends to be a different story. Many probably see the use of computers as "cheating" - that somehow if computers make artistic effect easier to create, then it's just not the same as doing it all by hand. In photography, producing an effect by digital manipulation wouldn't received as well as the same effect produced by techniques such as double exposure.

    For all that the art world seems to like to promote avante garde, new expressions, it can also be quite a paradoxically traditional and hidebound institution at times. I get the feeling that it's going to be quite a while yet before computer-created graphic art is considered a legitimate medium by the mainstream of "fine arts".

    Then again, I consider quite a number of works of SF to be "literature", too...

  • so a person who sits in front of the computer for hours with a graphics tablet and a natural media paint program (ie Fractal Design Painter) is somehow inferior to someone who uses actual paints? You're nuts. I have seen images produced on a computer that you couldn't tell weren't painted on a canvas without very careful examination. It sure looked like art to me.

    Trying to draw a line between "art" and "fine art" is TOTALLY futile as well. It's, you know, subjective.

  • You seem to be arguing that just because a technique is harder it is more valuable. I get tired of the "suffering artist" bit. Gee, it's tough to mix a color. Sorry. It would be even harder if you had to use crappy medieval quality paints that weren't color consistent from batch to batch too. But I don't see you pining for the good ol' days.

    All trades use tools that make their lives easier, why should it be different for artists? If a guy prefers working in Fractal Design Painter, he's still an artist. I don't consider myself to be less of a writer because I use a computer instead of a typewriter either.

    A friend of mine is a pro illustrator. He does most of his work as acrylic on masonite I think, but he also does some 100% digital work. He'd kick my ass if I told him that digital stuff wasn't art. Because it is. It's just different.

    This was actually a big debate inside Wizards of the Coast a while ago. The Magic art director at the time had a blanket no-digital-art policy. This was because most of the stuff he saw was CRAP. But then a guy turns in a pair of digital paintings that were unreal... they were great. They looked totally traditional. An argument raged. They ended up in the card set because they looked good. (No, I don't remember the card set or the artist's name, this was a while ago.)

    Just so where clear, I consider computer generated art to be art, just not fine art.

    So if the Mona Lisa was created buy a guy with a Wacom pad and Fractal Design Painter it wouldn't be as good anymore?

  • If you already have Photoshop why on Earth do you want to migrate to GIMP?

  • That's a rotten site. There are no music samples. I will have to divine a sense of his musical greatness from the graphic design, I guess.

    Ah. Just as I was about to post I found the music. It's hidden on the Gnarly Geezer site. You can't get to it from AH's site directly. So I still maintain that it sucks.

    Hmm. The music underwhelms me. I'd rather listen to Dick Dale.
  • If you can reproduce limitless numbers of the original, it completely devalues the work of art.

    Tell that to Ansel Adams.
  • by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @02:59PM (#128654) Homepage Journal
    Aren't critics always a bit slow to warm up to something new? Photography, lithography and all sorts of 'technical' artforms went through phases where people were wowed by the technical side of them, but wouldn't consider it art.

    Art is such a silly subjective thing. When I was in art-school, the instructors were *very* protective of their 70's era definition of art, and dismissive of a lot of art forms that came before and after.

    Ah well, I suppose in 20-30 years there will be a new batch of art students creating a stir with their bio-genetic artworks as my generation adjusts it's glasses and looks back to our flatscreens saying yes yes thats all very impressive, but it's certainly *not* art.

    Art is, in a very loose definition, anything you do creatively, if it inspires you, go with it.
  • by andr0meda ( 167375 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @06:15AM (#128657) Journal
    Well, the medium carries it`s own personality really, it`s own soul and history if you like. The artist molds the medium into what he likes it to be, into his message or his expression. The same goes for paper and inc. It`s still very much an analog process to print photos. Airwaves are analog, and are subject to interference, heat, moisture, etc. There is allways an interpretion stage where the viewer has to correct his senses.

    This is not to say that 2d screens or soundcards or whatever are not subject to the same principle, a randomness factor, as small as it probably is, is still there. But the raw data behind the art is a pure functional discretized nondeficiant set of 1`s and 0`s, which do not carry meaning, soul, expression or history. Only when interpreted by the right set of software do you get to experience the actual art. In a sense, this extra level of interpretation, this dependancy on digital technology, is what makes digital art different from classical analog art.

    Usually, the medium also embodies history. A painting is painted upon with paint in a certain way. Clay is molded and baked redhot in ovens above 2000 degrees, sculptures took years to work on. They represent hisotry, a bondage with the artist. You can hardly say that massmanufactured Sony screens carry the artist`s message, or have any relatinship to the art that is expressed.

    Digital art also paradoxically represents art that you will never see the original of. The analog actions the artist uses to mold his medium into his favourite shape, is digitized entirely, only to be reconverted to analog output that will try to reproduce the original analog artwork. What the artist makes is never exactly the same as what the world will see. The soul in art is usually extremely fragile and easily damaged, so maybe digital art does not exist i this sense.

    If you disregard the level of digital means that have to interprete the art-data for you, then digital art becomes essentially the same as any art out there. The queation whether something is art or not is the very personal question whether something touches and moves the senses, soul, emotions and feelings of the observer. The television screen becomes the (imperfect) looking glass which you use to observe a digitized version of analog actions, which may very well contain pure art, or pure garbage, aside from any (mis)interpretation. Since digital artificats belong to the medium, it is therefore highly dangerous to say it belongs to the art as wel, as the artifacts are sensitive to changes in the technology behind video screens, which may very well change, whereas the art should not.

    So it`s a personal thing mainly. Everybody decides for himself whether something is art or not. Digital art prompts problems for the mainstream art critiques out there because it isn`t clear why something can be art or not. Digital art asks for a very personal form of appreciation. You like it or you don`t. Everybody sees the same thing, and there`s little history to hold on to, which is what critiques usually use to judge artwork.

    If you ar interested in knowing what people do or have done with digital art n the past, have a look at [] and [] which feature most of the 1987-2001 period of digital art produced in a underground movement called the demoscene. The democene itself has discussed the topic of demoscene material being art multiple times in the past, and the general consensus is that the actual question what art is, remains. The modalities and reasons why people create digital art rather than classical art may be important to understand what digital art is, too. In fact, digital art is open to everybody, requires talent, skill, exercise, just like any other art. It is however much more accessible and easier to put into practice, and tools are much more diverse and in ambundance.

    In the end, art is a personal feeling, a whimp of the hart, something that cannot be explained, and that takes everyday life into a metalevel. Those who define fine art probably did without digital art in mind, but the concept that led to the fine-art definition probably remain the same.

  • by andr0meda ( 167375 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:06AM (#128658) Journal
    Actually, a lot of the best digital art is genuinely breaking new ground. [..] Of course in many cases they include much more than just the computer and program to the point that they can't just be reproduced at will, which would probably make them classify as valuable artworks under the ease of reproduction viewpoint.

    You`re abslutely right. I didn`t mean to imply digital art to be limited to 2d, far from it :)

    Whether something is valuable art, because it cannot be reproduced easily, is debateable. Economically seen there is no question about it. Scarce products are worth more than others. However if I make a painting, chances are no one is going to be interested in it because I can`t paint, but it`s still very much unique and impossible to clone. In the same way I don`t think technology has impact on the value of digital art as well, alltough people may very well spend lots of money on it to own it. But that doesn`t make something more art than anything else. Digital art is essentially disconnected from it`s medium. To use a metafor, it`s like having drops of paint in a bottle, and only if you throw the bottle at the right type/size of canvas, the picture comes out right. The canvas is replaceable by other canvasses, but only some types will be able to display the image correctly. Ofcourse this doesn`t work in the real world, but it works in cyberspace. Technology is replaceable, disconnectable from the data. If there was any bond with the art itself, it will be lost in such a process. If technology had impact on the value of art, the artvalue is subject to changes unrelated to the data that represents the art. This is paradoxal, so the technological medium should therefore not be seen as part of the digital art.

  • What is art?

    Well, no one really knows. "Art" is one of those words that gets tossed around and argued over, with distinctions made between art and craft, art and entertainment, etc.

    There are four basic schools of thought as to exactly what art is. Each have their strengths and weaknesses, their merits and follies.

    1. The Mimetic View: Shakespeare said it best: "Art holds a mirror to nature." In this philosophy, art is that which is created by humans to reflect things (objects as well as ideas) found in nature. If you believed in this view, a clear, sharp painting of an apple is "better" art than a fuzzy blurry picture of an apple. This was the common view during the Renissance.

    2. The Fundamental View: Art can be described with a set of rules, or properties. In painting, it might be the quality of the lines or colors, or the fineness of the brushstrokes, or something like that. So a painting that had very fine colors and brush strokes would be "better" art than a painting that had sloppy brush strokes. Of course, "fine" and "sloppy" are really a matter of opinion, but people who believe this view treat them as if they are objective qualities and argue for hours about the form and fundamentals of a given piece. This is a common view today.

    3. The Expressionist View: Art is something created out of self expression. The "better" you express yourself, your feelings, at the time you create the piece, the better the art is. Of course, from this viewpoint, the only one who really knows how well he expressed himself is the artist. Still, people will argue that they can divine what he was trying to express, and then pass judgement on how well he accomplished it. An example would be if I said Dave Matthews was a better artist than Britney Spears because he expressed himself in his music, and Britney was really nothing more than the product of a clever marketing team, crafting entertainment for the masses. The point being that Britney was not an artist because she didn't express herself. This is a very popular viewpoint right now.

    4. The Impressionist View: (Don't confuse this with "impressionist painting"). In this view, the greatest art is that which impresses feelings on its audience the best. If I create something that makes you feel very sad and cry, the impressionist would say I had created great art. Edgar Allen Poe was an impressionist - he crafted his stories and poems for the purpose of creating a response in his audience: usually forbodeing, fear, repulsion, horror, or something along those lines. "The Raven" really isn't about much, but is sure makes us feel creepy.

    So, which of these views is right? Well, there isn't a "right" view - they all have good points and bad points, but if you understand them you can make an educated case for why your pieces qualify as "art".

    I could write volumes on this subject, but this is Slashdot and I'm about to get one of those "Click Here to read the rest of this comment" things if I haven't already.

    An entertaining exercise is to examine pornography from each of the four viewpoints - and see which ones are forced (or able, depending on your affiliations) to qualify pornography as art.

    Hope this helps.. email me if you want to talk about it more.

  • 1) Communication: Art is a form of communication. Therefore, does it reach the intended audience? via the medium that It is expressed in (rock music, sculpture in silly putty or stone, etc.

    I have to disagree with this. From an expressionist viewpoint, the value of art is in the expression of the artist during the creation. After it's been created, whether people see it or not really doesn't matter - the artist made "art" when he expressed himself.

    Pick your favorite "artist." He completes a new work; it is done, and ready to go to the gallery. His studio burns down and it is destroyed. Was it art when it existed? Or is it only art when someone else sees it?

    My answer to that question is that it was art the moment it was created. Expression is the value, not communication.

    Am I right? No. Are you right? No. Who's right? Nobody. "Art" is one of those words that doesn't have a definition, yet people try so hard to give it one.

    All you can really say is what art is to you.


  • If even existed an age-old question sure to turn the generations against each other, it surely involves either art or music.

    "Thats not music! Music is like xyz"
    "Yes it is, piss off you old bugger!"

    This conversation is just a rehash of the same old question.

    As for my gen-x++ (or whatever they call us) opinion:
    Art is anything that isn't readily uniquely produceable in mass quanities - yes that means that pop-lollipop CD's aren't art but that the Linux kernel is. Fine art is any art that is both rare and hard to create, in any quantity. That means the Linux kernel is out, but hand-blown glass - lamp shades in the shape of a penguin are in.

    Thats the distinction in my eyes - for example music that is basically the equivalent of 'Nysnc (taking pre-written pre-orchestrated songs and running them through the Music-ifier 5000) is similiar to running a seed number through a complex forumla to produce a graphic design. In the same vein, writing, producing, and recording a piece of music is art just like carefully designing, implementing, and rendering a 60-second [] movie clip or still frame is art.
  • Art has several elements

    1) Communication: Art is a form of communication. Therefore, does it reach the intended audience? via the medium that It is expressed in (rock music, sculpture in silly putty or stone, etc.

    2) Technique: The quality of technique can have an impact completely aside from anything else.

    3) Audience Response, also know as Participation of the Audience. It has to be interactive somehow on some level, emotional, philosophical, etc. This often means using the symbolism, etc of the culture and people your are intending to reach.

    As an example, do a web search for the painting, the "Volga Boat Men". This was famous in pre-revolution Russia, to the extent that many revolutionaries made a pilgrimage to the painting and swore an oath on it. YOU look at it now, and the impact may be a bit less. It worked within that culture, probably less so for ours.

    4)Social Agreements and the Opions of Experts - This is where a lot of bullshit lives. you often have a lot of arbitrary opinions, such as that art would have to involve a lot of hard work and effort. Therefore, something that a genius tossed off with minimum effort would be less artistic then something with alot of struggle. which is nonsense. Also, artistic expression can only be through familiar techniques. Which is another bit of junque.

    For example, I consider Linux as an OS is a work of ART by Linus, which uses the bits of contributed code as the elements of the montage. It is a somewhat of a self potrait in that regard.

    The important part is that familiar techniques usually communicate more easily than unfamiliar ones. 5) Art as a weapon: Comment: Art for Art's sake is nice, but tends to sabotage communication if carried to far. Because Art is also partly communication, you can use it to do something. You can use it as a weapon. Again, the Painting the "Volga Boat Men" was a weapon against the Russia of the Tsars.

    Final Thought: Ultimately, Art is something that YOU breath life into. If it is not alive, it is not art. If it is alive, it will communicate, and it is ART. What kind of life it is it up to you.

    and yes, in this regard a community or an OS or anything else can be a work of ART.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • Art as an expression is the start of communication. even if it is failed, destroyed, successful or whatever. even it it is communication with your paint brush and canvas. If I write a letter, and it is destroyed in transit was it ever a letter? Of course it was.

    Expression without communication is just like pissing in the wind. If you merely what to express yourself, go talk to a wall. Note I do note recommend this.

    Expressionism as you have detailed here seems to examine the world of "we have a failure to communicate" as well as the attempts and struggles to communicate, and finally sanctifies the original impulse to say something, without seeing any interaction down the road.

    Of course, the secret is, that it IS alright to communicate. Although, for some the jargon and jokes will be arcane, resting on a select vocabulary. NOTE: Interactivity is good, most of the time.

    an Arcane artist vocabulary results in phenomena like learning to appreciate the poetry of a foreign language without ever learning the language or seeing a translation. You are left with the vocal patterns only. This can be fun, but you wind up missing stuff.

    "Art" is one of those words that doesn't have a definition, yet people try so hard to give it one.

    in this context, ART refers to a subtle experinece in the viewer, the receiver of the art. (which can also be the artist!) This experience is an interaction which brings together and evokes various emotions and thoughts in the viewer/listener/audience/etc. depending on the experience of the recipient and how this relates to the "art"

    Example, most folks might relate to an abstract "Study in Green" as having to do with money, as one of many possible meanings. White is a wedding colour in the West, while in china, it as a funeral colour. rather different emotions, for the same colour, depending on context.

    So art DOES have a definition. It is defined that thing that provides for a certain experience of reflection, that penetrates past the social veneer of a person.

    But note that the definition you choose for yourself will colour what you create in your art.

    Art as something you breath life into is a bit much for some folks.

    I remember reading comments by a number of well known and successful artists and authors that the way people analyse stories and artwork in schools is NOT how they write or paint, etc. Really succesful authors, for example, consider that stuff pure comedy, pure BS for people like critics to indulge in, to fool the public with. An interesting experiment is to count the number of successful authors who went to university to learn to write.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • The point there is that ART encompasses many things.

    Including programming, although this is admittedly adstract.

    Take for example the Saga of Mel, as seen in the Jargon File. His was a level of skill that could not be appreciated, except by a select view.

    I would argue that his work was certainly artistic.

    And in the case of the Linux kernel. I would argue that the structural embody a set of selective choices that are to some extent artisitic.

    The words that go to make up War and Piece do not physically look like Tolstoy, for example.

    This ultimately goes back to the arguments of expression that make up the DeCSS legal cases.

    Is Code Art? Is it Expressive?

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  •'s about the artist. The computer is just a different kind of brush.

    New tools have always been met with controversy. The organ caused as much of an uproar as the Moog synthesizer; both are now celebrated. Photography wasn't considered an art until after people realized that it truly is an artistic medium.

    Real Artists(tm) will understand that what you do with/on the computer needs to be evaluated based on its artistic merits, without prejudice based upon the tools you used to create it.


  • Real artists don't ask other people if their art is really art. Maybe if you left the South you'd find that you don't really care about what people think in a place where re-enacting Civil War battles is considered an interesting pasttime.
  • by Nyktos ( 198946 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @02:54PM (#128685)
    I take pictures nude pictures of myself and then use photoshop to digitally "enhance" my penis. Is this considered "art".
  • Let me just put in my $0.02

    Vermeer and other artists used a "camera obscura" to get the draftsmanship on the drawings they used for their paintings as perfect as possible. In fact, Durer and others used grids of strings between themselves and subject, and a gridded canvas, to simplify the drawing and make it work better. (Easier to trace a little square of a little square, rather than draft the entire thing). I've heard, but am not sure who so won't name names, that some very famous realist artists of the modern day project slides onto their canvases, and "fill in the paint by numbers". Is this cheating? Yes or no?

    I'd say that given that artists used grey scale value tabs, drawing tools (plumb lines/straight edges), grids, controlled palettes and any other technology they could get their hands on to either get the draftsmanship better or work easier (consider that oil surpassed egg tempera - new technology overtaking old - just as alkyd may supercede oils...) anyone who says that technology X can't be used for art is deluded and ignorant of art history.

    Art is what it is, most often than not in the eye of the beholder. The viewer isn't a passive consumer but must, as in any other media, inflict some kind of mental transform on blotches of paint and arrangements of tone and line, or whatever. If a slash of white acrylic across a black canvas evokes more from me than a Flemish painting of fruit in a silver bowl, then hey. To ME, that's art. If I can't stand Jackson Pollock and gaze with wonderment on Caravaggio, Delacroix or Courbet, that's my perogative.

    If people in MS can't understand why a computer screen isn't art - or anywhere else, to hell with em. And ditto for the sarcastic remarks about 80s hairdos and bull sperm. Dilletantism and posing exists in every scene - witness any open source posedown either here or real life.
  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @03:27PM (#128689)
    Sculpture, paintings, and the like all have one thing in common: they are each completely unique. When you buy a work of those arts, you know you have something that is one-of-a-kind. It was created at one time by the artist's hand, and no copy or duplicate will ever be just like it.

    A rung below these "fine arts" you have lithographs and woodcuts, media which aren't unique but aren't infinitely recreatable, either. A lithograph by M.C. Escher will exist as part of a limited run, each print numbered uniquely with the collector knowing that lower numbers equal higher quality. These are never as valuable as one-of-a-kind artworks, but are still considered "art" because of the above.

    Rare posters and collectibles are a rung lower yet. These are certainly not one-of-a-kind, but they are also "limited", although each instance of the art was identical when it was new. Value is based on grade and "newness" of the item. Rare World's Fair posters or Hummel figurines may still be considered "art" because of this, but the term "collectible" is more accurate. This is no longer "fine" art, it is mass-produced and manufactured.

    Computer-generated art falls into this category as well, then. While it is without question artistic and creative, it is not unique. Existing in digital form, it can be reproduced ad infinitum as long as the digital data exists. If you were to print it in a limited run and then destroy the original data, you might have a collectible. If you were to print it exactly onceand then destroy the file, you might have "fine art".

    Pixels on a monitor, however, will never qualify as "art" to those who discuss the meaning of the term. Art, like people, needs to have a uniqueness to it in order to be appreciable.

  • It depends on what you want. There are really two questions in there. "Will computer generated art ever be accepted as a 'fine art'?", and "Will computer generated art ever enjoy the same status as triditional art?"

    The answer to the second question is is probably no. But this needs to be qualified. The assumption is you want to be able to display your art in a mesume, have art critics poke and fawn over it, and hopefully take it seriously. That's not going to happen. Computer art is'nt a new genre that we are going to have to wait decades for the art world to catch up with--because computer generated art is'nt so much a new genre, it's a new medium.

    Computer generated art is a different medium in the same way that music, books, or movies are different mediums for art. And, like these other mediums, it will be eventually be delt with on it's own merets. A lot of this has to do with the distribution: A book will never hang in a mesume because, as a general rule, any copy of the book holds the same artistic value as the orginal manuscript. A movie is a medium desiged exclusivly to be projected on a screen, the experience only varied by the quality of the technology displaying it. Music can only be enjoyed in the first person as a performance art only once, as it is different each time it's performed, or as a replication of that performance (in an audio recording). We are faced with a few questions about the distribution and experience with computer generated art, because it is so new, the prefered methods of distribution have'nt been determined.

    Triditional 'art' is static, and for the most part, rare. And so a world has grown around it to try to explain it, display it, and criticize it. So, if your asking if computer art is going to be a part of that world, the answer is no. But neither will films, music, or lititature, because the expression of that art is so different, and as a consiquence, entirly different worlds have grown around them.

    Nobody is expecting triditional art critics to begin pontificating on the artistic merit of film. We should'nt expect them to start doing the same for computer generated art; in fact, we should'nt want them to. If we ever want computer generated art to be taken seriously, we have to allow a world to grow around it on it's own terms. Cowtowing to the old school is a search for acceptance that will never come, and threatens to limit your artistic freedom by placing yourself into a strict set of rules and triditions.

    Which brings us to the first question, will it ever be considered a fine art? I think almost certianly yes. In the same way lititature, music, or film is. But in the world of higher education, the mistake will be made to try to lump computer generated art in with triditional art (painting and sculpture) because at first view, that's what it seems to most closley resemble.

    It will take some time, but I see eventually universitys having seperate departments in their college of fine arts for computer/electronically generated art, just as they have seperate departments for film, writing, or music. And yes, it will be taken seriously.

  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @02:53PM (#128693)
    Look, every emerging art or music form is first decried as an abominaiton, against god, trash, junk, etc. Look at Van Gogh (hell most impressionists), Picasso, Beethoven, Wagner, Miles, McCartney... it'll pass, but sadly, it'l be a generation - the people gnashing their teeth have to die first (that's a quote from Alan Kay about computer usage)
  • Fear of new media is a valid issue, but also remember that if people didn't like similar art in a traditional format, they may not like it in a new media either.

    One of my favourite artists John Paul Caponigro [] uses Paintshop effects on his photos. Similar techniques can be used in the traditional media, but the new media gives him more freedom.

    If he produced these same photos on paper, people would like them. If people would not like them in the traditional format, a new media will not make up for that.

    Art is about personal taste as well as tradition. Fine art can be produced digitally, but not all digital graphic work is fine art.

    In this particular case, also remember that the viewers of the art were in a particular geographic location, Little Rock, Arkansas. These viewers may not like the art itself, or they may not like the format. It is also mentioned that universities take the same view of this art, but the question remains in what way did they view it? was it an application for college? was it for a review of the art?

    We haven't seen a sample of this art in particular, and certain art is usually not referred to as a "fine art".

    Shrek and Final Fantasy are a type of animation, and while animation is a recognised media, it's rarely called a "fine art".

    Shrek is a beautiful peice of animation, but it isn't the same thing as the Mona Lisa. Some digital design is more technical than artistic, it's based on a lot of technical knowledge. That's not to say it's not artistic, but that it's also technical. Not everyone has that technical knowledge, so it makes a new genre of it's own.

    What the art form is going to be used for is of primary importance. If it is for display in the home, quite obviously this will be a problem since the viewer needs special equipment. Size may also be an issue, so may the lack of tactile feedback, some artforms are made to be touched.

    I wouldn't call a lot of digital art "fine art", not because it's not fine, or art, but because it is too different from the traditional genre in terms of comparison. Most critics compare, if comparison is impossible, or biased towards a traditional format, problems will occur.

    If people misunderstand your art, and you believe it is of fine art quality, call it Digital Fine Art, and see if that makes a difference.

    If an art genre doesn't seem to fit, create a new one.

  • In a price evaluation it does make a difference. the real Mona Lisa is obviously worth more than a poster of the same painting.

    A lot of art assessments are made based on investment value, not just the value of the art to mankind

  • It sounds like what you need is a printer. Preferably one with a very fine resolution.

  • and tell me it's not art [].
  • I believe this [] is the slashdot article you mentioned.
    (For the goatse paranoid: l).
    I have to agree with you there. That is a fine example of computer art.
  • Art is art regardless of how it was generated; ink, oils, canvas, paper, computer, etc.

    On the other hand, because it's computer generated and it's visual doesn't mean it's art, either. The definition of art is vague and left as an exercise to the reader :)

    If I were to claim computer generated art as, well, art, I'd be using it to do things impossible in any other medium. Truly push the computer generated portion. Animated 3d stereograms rendered on the fly from a filtered video sequence picked up from a USB cam. Or using multiple speakers and 3d sound generated from IP traffic modifying sounds picked up from the room itself, creating a shifting, moving, living soundspace.

    My own take on art is that it's an expression of your soul.

    Geek dating! []
  • I always wondered why performers for the mass media of TV, Radio, Film, Music, etc. are called artists. By deffinition they produce a mass media product. There is nothing unique between my CD and your CD.
  • Art is in the eye of the beholder... I take great pleasure in pretty pictures, whether they be gif, png or painted by a famous dead guy. I see no difference to be honest with you.

    Anyone who says "it's on a computer it's not art" is basically, not worth listening to (IMHO)

    on a side note, is there any site where we can take a nosey (look) at any of your pictures? I'd be interested in seeing them.


  • by stonewolf ( 234392 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @05:41AM (#128728) Homepage
    The Critic says, "Whatever I SAY is art, is art."

    The Artist says, "Whatever I DO is art."

    I say, "Art is anything created with the intent of causing an emotional response."

    Notice the difference between the definitions. The first two cannot be tested or argued. My definition, can be used to test to see if something is "art." Although my definition may well be crap, at least it can be tested.

    So, I bet that by my definition of art, your work is ART.

    Trouble is, that MY definition is highly influenced by rational scientific thinking. On the few occasions I have tried this definition out on "real" artists the reaction was either bafflement or extreme rage. "How dare you try to quantify the eneffable! Next, you'll be trying to define God. Or the trying to understand the origin of the Universe!"

    On the other hand, a good friend of mine got through his MFA by doing paintings in which he recreated the "glowing" colors seen on computer screens. It seems that a painting of a computer screen was accepted as "art" while an image on a computer screen was not.


  • I am not sure weather these "Art Critics" are questioning the process or the result. We need to get away from the medium. I would say that Art is in "the mind of the beholder" - in other words something, anything that is designed to make the viewer think could be art.

    Cartoonists have been fighting that sort of fight for ages. Is cartooning an artform ? - heck yes! - (read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud if you think otherwise). These days a few cartoonists (including myself [] =) ) use Drawing tablets and a variety of software to create what we like to think of as "art" (as well as the traditional tools). Even Scott Adams scans and cleans up his drawings on the computer.

    If you created a piece of art on a A4 sheet is it art .. - is it emphasising the form? What about if you had it printed on a 20mx30m board - process and form? How about if you took that same image and painted in in oil on canvas - emphasising process ?.

    They will need to realise that the computer is the tool, the process, not the form.

  • If I use, say, watercolors, to paint a corporate logo, is that fine art? What if I create the logo for my company by working with watercolors? I say that this is not fine art because it is not of the spirit of fine art.

    Similarly, if I am using GIMP to develop tiles for my favorite oipen source strategy game, that is not fine art either-- it is graphic design.

    Yet, if you go to art galleries devoted to computer generated art, you see art for art's sake, NOT garphic design towards some end. The aim is to express an emotion not because a an advertisement, movie of video game demands it but rather because it is worth expressing in its own right.

  • Does having a computer between artist and object somehow detract from the results?

    Does having a paintbrush between a painter and the paper somehow detract from the results?

    No, of course not! I've seen some really good computer art; I don't see why no one appreciates it.

    Also, I just finished an "Art" class at my school; I hated it. Several of my friends agreed with me - and we all decided that we would have eagerly taken a computer art class. Oh well...

  • If you want to rate art by its commercial value, then obviously Van Gogh's work didn't become "art" until he was dead.
  • > Those who can, create. Those who can't become art critics.

    The quote is "Those who can, do, those who can't, teach." Since almost everyone who can do has learned from a teacher, how bad is that? And many of the best teachers are masters--those who can do, well, and convey the technique and sense to others.

    The other quote is "A critic is just a failed artist."

    What a canard. Criticism is itself an art. All artists are naturally critics (it's how they place themselves within their genre and justify their depressions and histrionics). All people are naturally critics, and almost all people are frustrated artists. That canard is generally blathered by hacks whose stuff just got panned, or by politically correct art-sycophants. In most cases, it's the critic who is right. For every Picasso, there are 16,000 dorks doing clowns on velvet and repeating to themselves "a critic is just a failed artist".

    Michelangelo painted the fucking Vatican. Van Gogh's works' excess value comes chiefly from the agonized life he led while painting them, and the hype-multiplier effect on collectibles. Da Vinci was persecuted by religious fixers who knew his analyses were correct but sought to suppress them as dangerous to their political and financial positions. Mozart was the 18th centry equivalent of a rock star.

    People trot out anecdotes about fringe analyses to justify demonizing all criticism in an attempt to deny the truth in negative comments on their own work. They make and promote a prejudicial determination not borne out by fact.

    "Those who can criticize, do; those who can't, pretend to artistry; those who criticize critics make their pretense public."
  • I agree with all the posts about how computer art will naturally not be considered fine art at first; the establishment always rejects the new.

    What I suggest is that you try to create things that cannot be created in any other medium. If you create flat pictures that can be printed on an Epson color printer then you're using the wrong medium. If you're creating 3D images that can only exist in a computer, and a printout is equivalent to a photograph of a statue (a representation, but not the same as viewing the actual item), then you're on the right track.

    If you create something dynamic that is a different experience for everyone who "views" it (via interaction with a mouse or via a complex algorithym based upon a webcam image of the viewer or whatever, as long as it somehow changes with each viewer) then you're going to start impressing people.

    Also, consider a sculpture where a computer and monitor and software are all components of a larger work. "Foot in the door." Feel free to reject this out of principle :-)

    I think you'll also have a stronger case if you write the software yourself, and the software is unique to each work, as opposed to using a commercial off-the-shelf drawing package to create a picture on a computer. Sort of the difference between mixing your own paint and paint-by-numbers. The software, while unique, could be based upon shared libraries with code re-use; just because each work is unique doesn't mean you have to start from scratch each time. Even Picasso bought commercial, off-the-shelf paints, but he then mixed and used them himself. It's still a Picasso, even if he worked in Sherman Williams house paint on a rusty saw blade! Your work is still your work, even if you use MS Paint on an IBM PS/2.

  • by The_Great_Satan ( 308213 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @11:27PM (#128785)
    Is this a problem? I thought we weren't fans of the "Economy of Scarcity" here?

    Personally I am OVERJOYED that I can create art without an "original." If an artist becomes famous, the work is snatched up and squirreled away by the well-to-do as yet another status symbol. Something meant to be seen, to convey a message/emotion, can then only be seen at the pleasure of an irrelevant third party.

    CG art is inherently egalitarian, and that is a beautiful thing.

    Also, the work is much less likely to be destroyed. IIRC, H.R. Geiger ended up buying back a number of his pieces out of concern that the owners wouldn't preserve them and they would be lost forever.
  • The computer is your tool. You're the artist.

    The only problem is when the lines cross, and the computer is the artist, and you're just someone pushing the buttons. But even in a case like that, it still can be art.

    Art is a very subjective thing. When people try to discuss what art is, they can never agree what qualifies. SOme people will disagree because they don't like a particular kind of art, it's ugly, or it didn't seem to require much skill. My definition is: "If the artist says it is art, it's art". Kurt Vonnegut had a somewhat stricter definition in one of his books, but I can't remember what it was, but it had something to do with putting your ass on the line.

Friction is a drag.