Digital Art and the Miracles of High End Technology

Computers and the considerable technological benefits they offer have become an essential part of our lives. We have one computer at home and one in the office; we check our inbox first thing in the morning; we are always online on our phones, wherever we are; we send our friends photos of the cake we had for breakfast or the dress we want to purchase; and the same second a question occurs in our heads we start to surf the internet to find the answer. This is our modern world. It impacts on work – it’s almost impossible to find a job that doesn’t work with computers in some way – and even my elderly grandpa uses the internet to search for recipes for my grandma to cook him for dinner. Technology and computers have become an essential part of our lives – and naturally, artists are no exception. The result of the new technology, for artists, is to give them the ability to create artworks they would not have been able to dream of making earlier.

Digital art has increased the available variety of artworks and artistic possibilities: starting with simple digital photography, moving through images which react to the physical presence of a viewer and finally reaching virtual reality, like the CAVE. It is interesting that art came to the world of computers and not vice versa. Perhaps this is because almost all the pioneers of Digital art are primarily scientists, who dared to make science fiction real.

Benjamin Laposky, an American mathematician and artist, is widely considered the founder of Digital art. He first created a graphic image using an analog computer. In 1953 he presented his works “Oscillons” (or “Electronic Abstractions”), which were a real breakthrough in the middle of previous century. Herbert W. Franke, an Austrian scientist and science fiction writer, besides drawing images with an oscillogram, wrote the first art book about computer graphics – “Computer Graphics – Computer Art”. Emeritus professor and ex-Presidential Science Advisor A. Michael Noll was interested in aesthetic value of digital artworks; his work “Computer-Generated Ballet” was the first animation made on a digital computer.

Benjamin Laposky, Herbert W. Franke, Michael Noll and Charles Csuri, together with Manfred Mohr, Robert John Lansdown, and Frieder Nake, wiped away the borderline between science and art, widening the borders of our world.

But some people continue to say that digital art is not a real art form, and we can’t compare Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, for example, with Maurice Benayoun’s interactive installation ‘World Skin.’ Of course we cannot compare these artworks, but don’t you think that if Leonardo were alive in the 21st century he wouldn’t try at least Photoshop? And that Mozart would have a go at writing music in Abelton? What we don’t know is what impact that would have had on their masterpieces – but there’s no reason to believe it would have constrained them. On the contrary, there would have been greater options available – as there are to us today.

By Laura