Monday, May 15, 2006

Art Gadgets

It’s no great secret that many of the Old Masters used projection devices and mirrors to create their incredible imagery as has been reported on CBS 60 Minutes and explained in detail in David Hockney’s book, “Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters”a> da Vinci could “really paint,” is of course a gross understatement, but the truth is he rarely finished any of his paintings, because he was always off on some tangent that was much more interesting to him as is well recorded in his famous notebooks. Some experts even think he used his own face as the model for the Mona Lisa.

Today’s news is digital art and other electronic media. In a recent visit to the San Francisco MOMA we were delighted with the innovative electronic presentations of a “media” exhibit. Did we feel like we were watching television? Never. It was innovative art at its best. And don’t forget watching the television was once not the mundane activity we now consider it. Remember the first color versions of Walt Disney on the boob tube? Art and science were melding to enthrall us with this new artistic rendering of life which included cartoons. Artists and scientists are always pushing the envelope, and thank goodness for these innovators. And that’s where art falls out of the decorative category and into the advancement of our collective knowledge.

The ability to look at something and take a paintbrush and copy it explicitly is a rare gift in deed. I know a few people who can do this. In fact I know one person that can do this with amazing capacity, but she doesn’t view herself as a gifted artist, or even an artist at all. Some people once thought photography was not art. Many extraordinary photographers, beginning with Ansel Adams and Dorthea Lange have taught us otherwise.

Now comes digital art in its many forms, a melding of technology that reaches beyond what the camera can capture or the eye can see at first glance. The artist’s imagination is still the key ingredient in this art form, and whether or not the technology is a mystery or mundane is irrelevant. Consider this image,"SRO" a digital painting, by artist Andrew Neighbour was created using Corel Painter©. Archival inkjet limited edition print on Hahnemuhle Paper.--Ruth Mitchell

(c) 2006 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved

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