View Full Version : Computer Art and Modern Art

11 November 2004, 09:46 PM
Hey everyone,

I would love to get your imput on a paper I am writing for school. I am posting here what I have so far. I am trying to write about the fact that computer artwork (whether it be 2D or 3D) is a pretty modern medium/artform, yet it is highly neo-classical and representational in nature. I want to compare this to modern art or modern art practices, and I need some good examples to write about. (Some arguments about why this may be the case).

So far I have

1) The medium is brand new, meaning artists who are becoming profficient in it are just starting to find new ways of exploiting the artform.

2) A comparison to photography - photography was frist highly representational of reality. Only after a while did it start to evolve.

3) ???

Anyone have any ideas for another example/argument? What about comments on my current 2 arguments? Anything would help. Thanks alot guys.

Modern to Neo-Classical defines “Art” as the “human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.” This definition does not specify a direct implication to the process, medium, tools and techniques in which “art” should be created. Therefore, this already vague term “art” continues to become even more mysterious, especially with fresh new mediums of self expression sprouting up in the 21st century. One of these brave new mediums is the computer. Computer artwork is considered by many to be the most challenging and artistically demanding art form to date. The artist is pushed to excel not only artistically, but technically as well. This type of demand insists that the artist utilizes both the left and right side of the brain to express his or her vision. Not only is digital art a test of skill and creativity, but it is also a test of faith - a faith in the artists own work. As a digital computer artist, the artist is not physically connected to his/her work because it exists behind a monitor screen. Whether the artist is creating digital paintings in Photoshop, or modelling scenes in 3D Studio Max, it makes it more difficult for a computer artist to achieve greatness and to believe that what he or she is creating is not just a pixel-pushing fantasy.

It can be said that because of the complexity of computer artwork, artists should strive to create works which emphasize meaning and emotion, much like modern art, rather than focus on the technical and “artistically beautiful” representations of life and nature. Ironically, this is not the case. One visit to the largest computer graphics community on the internet ( ( reveals to you the direction in which computer art has been heading for the past decade. The computer is a relatively modern medium, yet the majority of computer art reads as highly neo-classical. The focus of most computer art is representational, illusionist or realistic. Rarely can you find any work being done that is impressionistic or abstract, and most recognized computer art is naturalistic in nature. It can be stated that this is the case because computer artwork was born out of the special effects industry, where realism is desired, and that most aspiring computer artists are still in that industry or are looking to enter it. Therefore, these folks have and will continue to strive towards realism. This makes computer artwork an extremely commercial art form.

As a digital computer artist myself, I am well aware of the direction this medium is headed in. As a modern medium, the computer has been utilized to create various new art forms such as film and games. It is interesting to discuss the reasons why these new art forms, utilizing this new medium, have largely been based around neo-classical representation of what is real. Is it because this new medium has not yet been fully exposed? Perhaps. However, I believe there exist more specific explanations of computer artwork and its place in modern society as a highly neo-classical art form. First, this medium is brand new, meaning artists who are becoming proficient in it are just starting to find new ways of exploiting the digital realm to find new forms of expression. Secondly, this new art form can be compared to that of photography. Photography was at first largely neoclassical in nature. Only in later years, when photographers realized the possibilities of the camera, it evolved to become more abstract.

12 December 2004, 01:27 AM
Thats a pretty good start to a very interesting topic. I would dissagre with this part though:

It can be said that because of the complexity of computer artwork, artists should strive to create works which emphasize meaning and emotion, much like modern art, rather than focus on the technical and “artistically beautiful” representations of life and nature. Ironically, this is not the case.
I think that is precisly because of the complexity of the process of creation that much of the work produced revolves around developing an image of beauty and realism.

A good comparison could be drawn to the rennaisance, both in the content of the work and the economic structures that exist to facilitate its production. 3D Studios these days are much like Patrons during the 15 century. They pay you be creative, but they ultimately decide what it is that you create.

so i guess we will have to wait for the CG matisse and monet before CG actually get interesting to look at AND think about.

anyway, i'd like to see what you end up with.

12 December 2004, 03:04 AM
yes... a good majority of the works you see here are neoclassical in intent and purpose... However, there's a whole other class of work that goes as far away from neoclassical influences as possible... photorealism, classical sculpture, illustration and photographicly perfect 3d renders are not all that there is out there ... the other(s) are more rooted in abstract painting... think screen savers, etc. There's another variety more painterly... and at least one other style that sort of has some inspirations in artists like anslem keifer... and uh, there's another whole class of crass in your face art out there that's somewhat rooted in mtv type influences.... oh yeah, and another genra that is more pinup type that loves poser.

12 December 2004, 08:10 PM
Good Going my friend!

I wish you all the best.:thumbsup:

You may want to read my reply to another thread here...

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12 December 2005, 01:13 AM
i think an interesting question/debate could be to look at it from a slightly different angle. simplify. what you have got is good it is a bit hazy, it doesnt really have a solid core of what the question is.

i would present computer graphics, mainly cg as an over complecated unintuitive ,illogical tool for creating modern art, but serves its purpose for creating realism, hence it is used mainly in a classical realistic way. It makes sense. the question is will this always be the case?

consider this, ive split it into vague chapters.

Intro: state that much 3d computer art is of a traditional neo classical approach, and generarly the stories it is used in are highly traditional and is rarely used for a more modern approach. describe what questions you will answering in your chapters

chapter 1: define modern and classical art. use examples irrelavant to computer arts. show tradtional paintings compared to modern paintings. this will make for good understanding of the subject as you move on

Chapter 2: outline further by using examples that computer art is generally used tradtionally. discuss reasons why this may be the case. (i believe that it follows the logic that computers because can achieve realistic representations, so it is a tool for doing that, which is why so much computer art is traditional/classical. kind of like you would use a hammer for hitting a nail, but not as a spoon.)

Chapter 3: discuss whether you believe what you have laid out is fixed and will always be the case. use examples of artists who are using computers in interesting modern ways. perhaps draw a paralel with photography as an indicator of where computer could go, i.e photos where first used in a classical representative way (i geuss) but now there is a huge variety of artists using photography in a modern art direction. Use examples. Can Cg follow this, is it already beginining to. if so why? if not why? is it limited or not?


also i see you have written 'The computer is a relatively modern medium, yet the majority of computer art reads as highly neo-classical.'

id forget about interpreting most computer art as modern, it confuses the issue. It is modern in that it is recent, but it may confuse things. avoid the word modern. say despite it being a new develoment it being used in a highly classical way. Then you can talk of modern art with a clean slate of what modern is. otherwise its computers are modern, but in a different way that modern art is modern and so on. Confusion, someone reading who doesnt know what modern is in an art sense will be perplexed

i hope this is some help,
find some relevant books, there always out there if you look hard enough. pull out a variety of quotes.

good luck

12 December 2005, 01:07 AM
It depends what you mean by 'computer art'. 3D modelled stuff as seen on this forum is often highly representational, but there are plenty of people pushing things in other directions using computers as their tools, i.e., ...

01 January 2006, 07:03 PM
I agree with brkn that you need to be careful with your definition of computer art. It feels like you are focusing the "computer art" definition by work done on this site, which is very commerical in nature (it's site for people in the CG industry; mostly I see people working for movie studios, video game companies, and illustration).

This brings up my first thought of the day: has commercial work, despite the medium, always had a strong representational feel to it? I'd say so. It'd be interesting to survey the history of commercial work.

A second overall thought: how are computers used in more truly "fine art" approaches? I've seen mounted frames of people's movements made on a map, tracked by GPS.

Notably, it's important to note that digital mediums are faster at producing something that is cheap and easy to redistribute. This is really useful for commercial work, but...

Are there other benefits to using computers? It feels like they can connect to hordes of information, like online encyclopedias, which is a resource that's usually not tapped by folks doing CG work.

What are the new mediums that exist for art solely based on computers? Video games and websites seem like two new media types. People might not think of those as "art mediums", but I would. Are there examples of video games and websites that are really "fine art", as in "art for art's sake"? I'm thinking of places like; are there any more recent sites? And do any video games exist that aren't really games as much as interactive experiences?

It's an interesting subject, you may want to "focus" the question a bit before you have an "endless paper".

01 January 2006, 09:32 PM whatevre you want to call it is sort of intangible compared to "traditional " media.

screens can vary in size color etc and they are for lack of a better term "flat" and without texture from real world lighting... in that sense it has a removed from our world kind of stigma...and printouts are similar to art prints .. in that they aren't percieved as being the same experience as seeing the original piece (like looking at a poster print of a singer sargent versus seeing the real thing)

Personally I think that is a huge hurdle for digital. It's intangibililty (or percieved inytangibility), lack of true physical presence or uniqueness (in the sense that there isn't one instance of it in the world if that makes sense)... and it's delivery can vary so much you're not sure if you are looking at it in the best way...unlike a painting cause there it is that's how you look at it.

I'd like to see digital art "outside" the monitor...similar to people that make teris games out of entire buildings by using the pc to drive light switches... something with a sense of true scale...i'm babbling sorry

01 January 2006, 05:53 AM
Computer art has a history of sorts too. The first computer art probably dates back to when some bored computer science guy had a creative streak. It is likely the first computer art was ASCII art on a teletype machine. Although it didn't really take off until the CRT screen was implemented. Again ASCII art was probably the first on-screen computer art. Then when various means of displaying shaded pixels came about, it was blocky monochrome. The first 3D rendered art is likely to be something consisting of 3D vector lines dating to the 1970s. The computer art as we know it here probably didn't really start until the late 90's when affordable PC's started getting some decent processor power behind them. But even the software in use now has much of its history in non-PC platforms from the 1980's. (If you wanted graphics back then, the choice was usually Commodore or Atari. Basically the "gamer" computer of the time. AppleII was not really any better than the PCs of the time, so they didn't count until the Mac came out.)

If you look at art in a historical sense, computers are more of a medium. What kind of art was done depends on its availability and what was going on with society as a whole. :)

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