On the Art of Eric Wayne, artist Eric Wayne posts things about his art, and art process, and other things. One interesting subject that Eric covers now and then is how different people value or don’t value art that is made using digital tools.
I wrote a semi-lengthy response to one of his posts recently, and then he kindly responded, and then I began writing a second, semi-lengthy response to that, and then I reminded myself that I might have some kind of social interaction problem (which I am trying to think of as a “challenge”) and should perhaps probably not keep blathering my opinions all over somebody else’s Wall (or, screen.. whatever WordPress calls the Wall) because that is what my Wall (or whatever) is for.
So, this is an opinion inspired by Eric, who is a traditional-and-also-digital artist whom I do not know but do follow and support, in the sense that I follow and support some of the things he posts, while missing other things he posts, and has posted previously (the Internet being a firehose).
Some or all of the above words were not necessary. Onward anyhow.
As I suspect Eric addresses directly or indirectly elsewhere on his blog, it shouldn’t be surprising that those who make a living selling other people’s art would find digital art a bit hard to value – there is no “original” to exclusively own and then speculate on, nor can there be – it’s information, and these days, information naturally wishes for itself to be free.
My own “business model” (if it can be called that) is based on my own assumption that art has value – and is therefore valuable as art – if it expresses something the maker is feeling and can be of use to somebody else, as an inspiration for their own feeling or reflection, and/or as material for their own creative expression (all copyrights being rightly considered).
I am no doubt not getting the definition of art correct here, but I have a weird feeling that the definition of art is something the world of Humans will never be able to fully agree on – like just about everything else. I think Art itself would find this perfectly appropriate.
Opponents of the notion of digital art being called art at all (or good art, in any case) might also be trying to say that digital work can never be physically touched or breathed upon by the artist (or consumer), and so isn’t fully real art, in that single, potentially-important-to-them sense. Where is the artifact of the maker’s effort located in space?
Maybe the objection then has some kind of spiritual notion to it: it’s lesser art because it isn’t here, with us, but in some different realm, scattered across hard drives and USB keys and Clouds, where we cannot (yet) directly go. It’s mildly uncomfortable (and also impossible) to put one’s finger on.
I guess limited, signed print runs of digital art might address this problem of non-exclusivity (inclusivity?) but now we’re talking about money and not art at all. I think. Maybe there should be a word used to refer to materials of expression and another word used to refer to marketable materials of expression. Like, art and $art, or something.
Digital art is mostly very often very flat when printed out, and so the fan of “proper” art will have a hard time leaning in and enjoying the brush strokes and such, or certainly at least looking like they know all about what they’re assessing the value of.
I suppose you could 3D-print digital art somehow, so it had some bumps and ridges and things in it. That would probably horrify some people though because now you’re looking at brush strokes conceived in the mind of the artist but then executed by an infernal machine’s metal or plastic fingers. I would suppose that if this might horrify you, then you should not consider art made with assistive devices for those in need of assistance as real or valuable either.
If you’re going to be a real artist, you should have the means to hold and move your own, physical brush (or whatever), I would expect some might conclude. No expressing oneself with voice commands and tongue-based joysticks. Painting with your feet because your hands are unavailable, I am assuming (and probably correctly), would be more than permissible. I have no art degree, so I could not tell you whether or not to consider one type of tool or technique correct for creating correct art.
What if a gallery chose to hang one or more digitally created images among one or more digital reproductions of “real” art? This is what the game designer in me wants to ask, and just has. Could the gallery make a game out of asking visitors to assess the relative artistic merit (and therefore presumably the dollar value) of the equally flattened, artificially illuminated images, side-by-side? The visitors could be given an app to vote on each, even. Or just paper, if the digital voting mechanism might render the result less real.
What might those metrics reveal, about the nature of art, and those who claim to be able to value it based on its set of properties when some or all of those properties are invisible to the critic? Which galleries would enjoy this experiment, and which experts in the field of art would dare to enjoy it too?
I assert here that you are something of a snob (and by that I mean a bit off) when it comes to art, if you believe that art is of lesser quality purely because it was created using modern tools, as opposed to less-modern ones. If you are an art speculator, operating in an environment somewhat filled with these sorts of snobs, then I will give you a full pass – everybody needs to make a living, after all.
Thank you to Eric for giving me something to write about that was not the result of my need to talk about myself. Except these are still all my own opinions, of course, and nothing more, and so I have failed once again to take my own self completely out of the picture, if that’s ever even possible.
Finally, a full disclosure: I have written these words using a laptop, and also the Internet. If you think this is real writing, then think again.