Digital Art, the next revolution in art?

17 Nov 2015


Digital art is an artistic work or practice that uses digital technology as an essential part of the creative or presentation process. Since the 1970s, various names have been used to describe the process including computer art and multimedia art, and digital art is itself placed under the larger umbrella term new media art.

After some initial resistance, the impact of digital technology has transformed activities such as painting, drawing, sculpture and music/sound art, while new forms, such as net art, digital installation art, and virtual reality, have become recognized artistic practices. 

- Wikipedia


Before the invention of the camera, people relied on artists to depict and document the world around them. After the invention of the camera as a new technology, however, the need to simply represent what we see around us became less important and artists were able to explore different possibilities. Art could be redefined and the tools at artists' disposal could be used to express imagination, emotions and experiences that could not necessarily be captured in a photographs. Impressionist art, abstract art, Surrealism and Conceptual Art all developed as a natural consequence to the new technologies available at the time.

More and more artists are using the extensive technologies available today as a means to create their art and define their experience of the world.  There is a revolution in the way that we interact with our world - we spend hours of our days on computers and phones, and share our thoughts, fears, motivations and photographs through social media. Art can often be seen as a reflection of society and the current zeitgeist.  Artists use the tools available to them to express their experiences or their resistance to society and the current state of the world. And the tools available currently offer so many possibilities - for exploration, experimentation and transformation. A revolution in art...



 

Original Digital Fine Art Prints

Looking at the above diagram, the New Media art that are most relevant to the work available on StateoftheArt Gallery is digital printing. Digital, inkjet or giclee prints can be divided into five basic categories:

  1. Original digital works of art:
    Computer-generated images that exist only as digital files until they're printed out. 

  2. Original digital photographs:
    Digitally printed photographs from the original digital file or original negative. Like the work of Damien SchumannBettie Coetzee-Lambrecht

  3. Digital reproductions of original works of art:
    Existing artworks are scanned and then printed out to look exactly the same as the originals. A great example is Lizelle Kruger's Giclee print on fine art paper, of her exquisite oil painting 'Oupa Kallie se Leeukraal'

  4. Digitally-manipulated reproductions or digital works
    Digital photographs or scanned images that are manipulated, enhanced, reworked or otherwise altered by digital processes (using programs like Photoshop, for example) BEFORE they're printed out. These can sometimes be more like reproductions and sometimes more like original digital works of art, depending on the extent and degree of the manipulation.

  5. Hand-manipulated reproductions or digital works
    Giclee or digital images of any kind that are enhanced, reworked, or altered AFTER they're printed out-- like hand-embellished with paint, watercolor, collage or some other medium. These can sometimes be more like reproductions and sometimes more like original digital works of art, depending on the extent and degree of the manipulation.

Prints such as the Nuances series by Janet Botes are usually original fine art prints (category 1), and sometimes hand-manipulated original digital works (5) when the artist adds painting, threading and collage onto the printed work. These works are not reproductions of artworks, nor are they photographic prints. Developed and produced by combining photographs, scanned textures and painting, and the addition of digital drawing (with a drawing tablet and pen), each work is created as an unique artwork with the intent of printing it in a limited edition of only 5 prints.  As stated on the website Beware of Art: "the term "original print" means that this is the intended form of the final artwork -- the artist originally set out expressly to make the print."



Cederberg Impressions: Klipbergreeks, by Janet Botes, archival print on cotton paper, W:120cm x H:60cm x D:01cm (paper size, unframed), Edition Size 5


Fine art printmaking has traditionally been based on the concept of creating a master plate - known as the matrix - from the original and using this to reproduce a predetermined number of 'editions' of the original artwork. Historically, the matrix was then destroyed by the artist, producing a set of truly limited edition prints. In Janet's work the original digital file or 'matrix' is deleted after the fifth print is made, and only a file suitable for magazine publishing is kept for publication or publicity purposes. The latter is only about 20% in printed size of the the original - insufficient for more prints due to the substantial quality loss.


"An original digital print is not based upon using original artwork outside of the computer. The artist may use elements as source materials, such as photographs, drawings or other appropriated images, but the final form of the work exists only in the computer and as the final print or as an edition of prints." 


The prints are giclée prints, on cotton acid-free paper, and archival quality. The artist works closely with the printing specialist to produce the print in the way the artist intended it, and each print is hand-signed and numbered. 

The term giclée refers to fine art prints created with a digital ink-jet printer. It is derived from the french word "gicleur" which means "nozzle" or "to spray".  These ink-jet printers used for giclée prints produce a print that is very true to the original due to printing with 6 or 8 inks rather than the normal 4 color process (besides the usual Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black inks, there are two additional inks - Light Magenta and Light Cyan or Orange and Green). Another important factor affecting the quality of the print is the resolution of the printer - usually between 600 and 1200 dots per inch. The quality of the Giclee print is said to rival traditional silver-halide and gelatin printing processes and is commonly found in museums and other art galleries.

Archival quality refers to the life expectancy of a print or number of years before noticeable fading occurs under normal indoor lighting conditions.  Certain pigment based inks can be expected to last between 70 and 200 years, whereas dye-based inks have a shorter life expectancy of 20-50 years.

New Media vs Old Media


"...using technology in art has the potential to create entirely new art forms, and therefore new experiences for us that can be thrilling, illuminating, and just plain fun.”

- Georgia Guthrie, Director of The Hacktory, Philadelphia, USA


"Both digital and traditional artists use many sources of electronic information and programs to create their work"... and ..."Andy Warhol created digital art using a Commodore Amiga where the computer was publicly introduced at the Lincoln Center, New York in July 1985. An image of Debbie Harry was captured in monochrome from a video camera and digitized into a graphics program called ProPaint. Warhol manipulated the image adding colour by using flood fills".

 -Wikipedia


When looking at the amount of new media work, 2D and 3D art, "real-time" contemporary art and interdisciplinary creations at art festivals, biennales and online, the art world is embracing new technologies in the same way that our five year olds are embracing the use of cellphones and tablets.  Just have a look at this great compilation of ground-breaking work featured on the Smithsonian website:  7 Ways Technology is Changing How Art is Made, By Randy Rieland.

Many universities and art schools internationally now offer courses in New Media or 'New Genres'. And even though we cannot necessarily offer a platform for many of these digital art forms on StateoftheART Gallery yet, as a leading online gallery for contemporary art we are eager to see what the future will bring and welcome the new revolution in art.





Sources:

  • Digital Art on Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_art]
  • Art + Technology = New Art Forms, Not Just New Art, By Georgia Guthrie, November 15th, 2013 [http://makezine.com/2013/11/15/art-technology-new-art-forms-not-just-new-art/]
  • Art Prints on Beware of Art [http://www.beware-of-art.com/images/gallery/digitalprints/artprints.html]
  • Art Prints on Art Business.com [http://www.artbusiness.com/aprtprm.html]
  • 'What is Digital Art' [http://www.digitalartforall.com/15/what-is-digital-art/]
  • Repro Prints on Art Business.com [http://www.artbusiness.com/reproprints.html]
  • Explanation on Art From the Well [http://www.artfromthewell.com/explain.html]
  • Limited Edition on With Digital Eyes [http://withdigitaleyes.com/index.php/en/limited-edition]
  • Giclée Explained [http://www.limitededitionprints.info/gicleeexplained.html]
  • New Media Art on Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_media_art]



Article written & compiled  11 November 2015, published on 17 November 2015.
Above websites accessed 22 October 2015.
Copyright 2015 StateoftheART GAllery.