Tuesday, 7 May 2013


Types and artists

In the previous section I mentioned a lot of forms of digital art, so now in this one I am going to explain the different categories. In addition, I am going to present a few newly appeared artists who are making digital art more popular and known.

Art that uses digital technologies can be categorised by many aspects and because of this all of them are aesthetically very different. It is almost impossible to distinguish the certain types. If one would ask a group of people about their opinion on the meaning of digital art, the answers would probably differ.

The first point of view we have to consider is drawing a distinction between work that uses digital technology as a tool to produce traditional forms, and the other work that uses it as a medium. The difference however, is very blurred.

Christiane Paul, author of the book Digital Art (2008), supports this view. She observed that over the decades digital art has taken many forms and even today the question of how exactly it can be defined is still being debated.

According to the second aspect, we can distinguish new media art by its dimensions: 2D, 3D, animation and sound.

In case of computer-generated visual 2D imagery the image is on the screen and the instrument you draw with can be a tablet stylus or a mouse.
The artefacts are produced with a stage of manipulation using computer software. The end product can be a digital painting or a photo manipulation.
This technology is used by photographers, the advertising industry, web designers, graphic designers and it is available to fine artists too.

Museum quality prints are also considered digital art. The prints can be made by the enhanced Giclée or other processes.
Briggs and Blythe (2012) defined Giclée as the reproduction process that combines the convenience, ease and speed of the digital printer with, arguably, some of the sensory qualities of traditional fine art printmaking. This process uses pigment-based inks which are less likely to fade and discolour than inkjet dyes; it enables images to be copied retaining a level of conservational permanence at modest cost. The two authors agree that it facilitates instantaneous duplication and widespread sharing of artefacts without degradation; though it also raises concerns of authenticity, originality, ownership and value.

2D and 3D imagery can also be generated through the execution of algorithms coded into computer programs and could be considered the native art form of the computer.
Algorithmic art, fractal art (which opened up a whole new world of aesthetics, an unseen world of mathematical beauty), datamoshing and real-time generative art are good examples for it.

The reason why I looked so in-depth into this field is, because my area of specialisation is 2D design.
The third category is computer generated animated imagery. According to Miller (2008) contemporary art is characterized by an increase use of technological media, such as videos, television and computers. Computer-generated graphics are used by the film industry as digital video effects (FX) or CGI and by the game industry.

In my opinion, the fourth category can include digital poetry and music visualisation.

Digital poetry is a form of electronic literature which displays a wide range of approaches to poetry. It can be available in different forms, such as CD-ROM, DVD, as installations in art galleries, in certain cases as digital video or films, as digital holograms and on the Internet.

Music visualisation is a feature found in some media player software which generates animated imagery based on a piece of recorded music.

Apart from the types I mentioned, Miller (2008) suggests that digital art also includes software writing, hypermedia, gaming environments, hypertext, novel visualization environments, interactive fiction, distance learning, product design, net art works, information arts, telepresence, telerobotics, collaborative work environments, active learning simulations, medical applications, virtual reality.

There is also a Web-based art that has become a broad umbrella for multiple forms of artistic expression. An example for it are the visuals which are created for window browsers, they are called browser art. Then there are performance and time-based projects that take place as actions within a specific time frame during which they can be experienced by Web visitors.

Paul (2008) suggest that although all of these forms are aesthetically very different, there are certain prominent themes and narratives within new media, among them data visualisation and mapping, database aesthetics, gaming paradigms, agent technology etc.
She believes currently more and more works are being developed for hand devices, such as PDAs or mobile phones; and this art will experiment more with network structures that will go beyond the static set-up of the CPU, monitor and keyboard.

In their work Briggs and Blythe (2012) support Paul’s view, they agree that in the field of digital art many practitioners have experimented with current and emerging digital devices for artistic production and display.
There is even an association for the practitioners of iArt, the IAMDA.

Briggs and Blythe (2012) named British artist David Hockney as an example for this type of art.
David Hockney is one of Britain's most celebrated artists who embraced most art forms.
He also received much attention for the drawings he has made using his thumb and the touchscreen of his iPhone to create mini-masterpieces. Hockney turned his smartphone into a hi-tech canvas.

(From the presentation by Debs Wilson, 2012)

Briggs and Blythe (2012) observed that as successive painting apps have appeared, a new genre of Youtube video has also developed. “These utilise a form of stop-motion to show speeded up portrait painting or constitute playbacks of apps like Brushes, which records individual marks as they are made.”

For this, the two authors named David Kassan as an example. David is a New York artist who paints his life models using the simple £5 app, Brushes. Although his portraits look like an oil painting you would see in an art gallery, they are in fact finger paintings.

(From the presentation by Debs Wilson, 2012)

Daniel Mackie is a good example for how an artist can set up a successful business selling his work. He created his own collection of cards and prints and screen prints and started a company, The DM collection. Daniel currently uses a mixture of hand drawn elements, watercolour, and Photoshop to create a fresh and original style.

“The designs are mostly all animals with their habitat depicted within them, they are watercolour paintings but a lot of people are surprised that they are because my unconventional use of the medium.” (Mackie, 2013)

Daniel has worked with different clients worldwide like Adobe, British Airways, BT, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Observer, Random House, Samsung, The Sunday Times, The Times, and Virgin.

Sailor with tattoos

(Example of Daniel Mackie’s work from his LinkedIn)

In this section I have demonstrated how digital art, as a contemporary digital practice for artists, can be used for all sorts of projects. Whether it is 2D, 3D or an animation, there are countless possibilities to explore.

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