Tuesday, April 03, 2007

digital art and the return to a pre-modern notion of art

by Arseny Gutov

This is an in-progress ramble I'm still rambling on.

From what I've seen the digital art communities like CGtalk.com and Conceptart.org, the digital art movement seems to return a return to 4 things that the 20th century art left to the past:

Story, Work, Science, and Realism

A return to art as primarily storytelling. Through-out history artist were visual storytellers, they illustrated stories from sacred texts, mythology, history and literature. Then suddenly in the 20th century, artist who continued this tradition were named, in a diminutive tone, mere illustrators. (As if Michaelangelo and Rembrandt were not) This is related to the 20th century notion that of Art with a capital A, and the Artist who was someone above the tasteless masses, and who somehow didn't take commissions. In the digital art world (partly because of it's close ties to illustration, concept art for the entertainment industry, and film) we see a return to storytelling. The images that fill books like Expose and win awards at CGtalk are almost always telling a story and usually doing an excellent job of it. This is related to the return to realism, we live in the world of history, the story of stories.

-Work/art/ craft

In the 20th century, art was elevated to Art, and so became something different then it really is, it was puffed up, self-serving, and introspective. It was too important to humble itself to tell a story, it refused to submit to the limits of visual reality. The artist was someone semi-divine, a Creator, not tolkien's sub-creator who must work with the already existing creation (story, nature, and annoying neighbors). And so the endless quest for originality. Artist of previous generations copied their masters and sought fidelity to the visual universe around them. Before the 20th century the artist was a workman, a craftsman, a paid laborer. True originality comes through limitation, true leadership is servanthood.

Digital art is a return to this. Jonathan Hardesty, now a classical non-digital painter, started his education in this atmosphere at conceptart.org. After studying under some tradition classical painters he can trace his artistic heritage back to Leonardo da Vince. This isn't arrogance, it's true humility.

A return to acknowledging the scientific side of art, and using art to advance science,
-Topology Research
-medical illustration

the empirical world, which leads to realism



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