It would be more accurate to say, “get art the F out of politics”, because politics has engulfed art and not the other way around, but then it sounds more like art is meddling in politics, which it is, but that’s a lesser problem for me. I want to free art from the constraints of the more extreme forms of politics, which on either side advocate censorship and otherwise attack art, artists, art history, and artistic freedom.
When it comes to education I’m confident most people would prefer that religion, as in proselytizing and conversion, be left out of the classroom. You can teach religion as a subject, but you can’t try to convert students. And even if you are comfortable with YOUR religion being promoted in non-religion classes, you are then extremely unlikely to be cool with any OTHER religion being taught.
And so it should go with politics in art school, or the art institution, or the art world. When you go to art school you don’t want your graduate seminars to be all about social and political issues. You don’t want critiques to be all about politics. You don’t want to have to be a cadre in someone elses revolution, for someone elses cause. And even if you do approve of students being indoctrinated into YOUR political agenda, than you are definitely not OK with students being indoctrinated into the opposing political agenda (ex., even if you applaud anti-Trump seminars, you wouldn’t appreciate pro-Trump ones).
Politics can and should be taught as a subject, so that students are able to better understand it and make their own informed decisions. Students should be taught critical reasoning so that they can evaluate arguments for themselves. And I would probably add an ethics class so they are familiarized with ongoing moral quandaries. All of this would prepare students to be resistant to any indoctrination, and to be strong, independent thinkers. Instead of getting those courses, students are shuttled directly through courses in which teachers try to persuade them of the validity of a particular implementation of politics, and the students grades are connected to their allegiance to the cause.
When I went to grad school all art was political, all seminars were political, and all critiques were political. Everything was about politics. I knew I was in deep shit when I got the Xeroxed reader for my first graduate seminar, taught by the dean of the art department. It was hundreds of pages of articles about feminism, queer theory, gender, and related identity politics. If there was anything at all in there about the kind of art I was most interested in – visual art (as in there’s some imaginative and well-wrought visual image) – it was marginal, and probably a bad thing.
Y’know, if art wasn’t a part of the solution, it was part of the problem, and thus we had to invent a way that it was part of the problem when there wasn’t really anything to object to (ex., if you weren’t overtly about the feminist revolution than you were automatically upholding the patriarchy, even if you were making abstract paintings).
When I look back at this it kinda’ pisses me off. I didn’t get a graduate education in art, I got one in identity politics, or rather applied-identity-politics. I agreed with a lot of the articles we read (other seminars were about the black or Latin experience…), or parts of them, and a lot of it was interesting, but I was already pretty far left of center and didn’t need to be converted, politically speaking.
The bigger problem is that I had no interest in making art about politics. Worse still, my only viable options were to make work “deconstructing [my] white male privilege” or step aside. While my non-white-male peers made work to empower themselves, I was supposed to shoot myself down as the bad guy, take a back seat, and fight for someone else’s vision and prosperity while dissecting my own before discarding it as inherently vile.
What would these teachers teach in art school if they couldn’t hammer home their political agendas? Well, they’d have to be able to teach art, which is not the same as preaching their political beliefs. We’d have to hire teachers because of their knowledge of art, and ability to impart it, rather than because of their other qualifications, such as their biology and political allegiance.
Over time, incidentally, I’ve drifted away from being a liberal, as liberalism has become more authoritarian, and moved from opposing things like censorship to employing them.
Consider this idea which I haven’t heard anyone else say, but which is kinda’ obvious. Contemporary artists are always trying to be “radical” and “revolutionary”, and this is frequently and increasingly not just in terms of style but tied to far left politics (as in the case of my grad school). But if you go too far to the left or right you need to use force to impose your views over others – authoritarianism. We tend to think of all authoritarians as ultra-conservative, but Chairman Mao and Pol Pot were on the left (Pol Pot’s college education was in Paris). Rather than strive for perpetual radicality and ongoing revolution, it might make more sense to seek balance.
Now I can look back, rather clearly, and see that it was totally inappropriate to have crammed identity politics down our throats in art school. If anything, I’d prefer that art were an escape from the cause, rather than a weapon for it. I’d rather an artist was AWOL than a cadre in political warfare.
I’m fine with people choosing to make political art if that’s their thing. But the demand that art should be political, that it should be evaluated on political grounds, and if it is not a part of the cause it is irrelevant or deplorable, is as bad saying art must be Christian or Muslim, praise Christ or Allah, be appraised by how devout it is and if it represents a correct understanding of the scriptures or not, and anything that’s outside of those parameters is blasphemy.
I think teaching politics in art classes is poisonous, and students can pursue politics, like religion, outside of school. I also think it’s toxic in art criticism and curatorial practices. This isn’t to say students or artists can’t make religious or political work – which are likely to be opposed to each other, incidentally – or that there can’t be shows of such work, but that all art should not have to be filtered through an ideological system.
Seems obvious when you pan back, especially if you want to allow art students the full range of possible political or religious expression, if that was their thing, and not just one. Apparently, however, it’s not only not obvious, we are die-hard believers that art must serve a radical left agenda.
This is why a lot of artists are jettisoning themselves from the art world. Art represents freedom to us, especially freedom of the imagination and from ideological or imposed standards of correctness. We don’t want to make propaganda, nor put down our brushes (in my case a stylus) in order to make conceptual/political, non-visual art for the cause of the greater good according to someone else.
I even think, if I had to choose, I might rather make religious than political art. At least religious art has an element of mysticism or transcendence, and then the possibility of escaping the merely quotidian and vying for power.
In reality, I wouldn’t want to do that either.
I always wanted to develop and express my own idiosyncratic vision.
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23 replies on “Get Politics the F out of Art!”
There’s a place for political art, but nowadays, the expectation is that all works have to say something about the current political climate. There’s nothing wrong with art for the sake of art. There’s nothing wrong with expressing emotions and feelings that are timeless rather than tied to a period’s headlines.
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Agreed. Some of my very favorite songs are rabidly political, by the way.
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“I’d rather an artist was AWOL than a cadre in political warfare.” Of course as you say an artist is free to do as they wish – and some people DO wanna fight a cause/join a party/join the Army but for me I think art is almost equivalent to Freedom itself . That’s why I enjoyed it as a child and why, as I’m sort of rediscovering, I enjoy it now. Almost everything I do has some real world grounding, and many pieces could be interpreted as political – fine. But to boil it down – boil everything down – to a narrow paradigm. Nonsense.
Last college I was at we had a module on social/political context, luckily the tutors for the most part were fairly open and helpful with whatever direction students wanted to take their work so I was able to make pretty much what I wanted because I was also quite adept at making the political interpretations where required by the course criteria. Another student and friend found the criteria and box-ticking constrictive from the get-go and railed against it intermittently for the whole term – I quite respect that, but it clearly upset them at times.
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What the other side on this would say is that they are not expressing a “narrow paradigm” but rather the TRUTH. And thus you find that if someone is on the extreme right or left, and you don’t agree with them – basically because their view is too one-sided and extreme – they instantly label you as the extreme other adversary, or assume you just are clueless.
So, for example, because I am critical of the more cerebral instances of conceptual art, people assume I’m a Stuckist. Meanwhile I don’t get along with the Stuckists because I believe in originality, innovation, irony, and so on. One way to think of this is that conservatives tend to want to keep things as they are and liberals want to change them. The extreme of conservativism is oppression and not allowing change, and the extreme of the left is radical revolution that wants to obliterate history and start over with a completely new system. If you are in the middle and want to maintain history but also evolve, somehow that is hard for the more extreme types to fathom. For them you have to be either/or.
Ah, well, you had one module on “social/political context”. That is survivable. I got quite a bit of it as an undergrad and it wasn’t a problem for me because there were other views and approaches. It’s only when you are in a program in which the entirety of it is sociopolitical, and sees you as necessarily the enemy, that it gets really tough. I left one school because I found the instruction too conservative, and endured the one that was too radical on the left.
Now I’m AWOL and a dreamer.
Yeah, as I say I’m lucky in that regard. Perhaps there would’ve been more of that sort of guff if I’d gone to a bigger/more prestigious establishment, who knows. I admit I now generally try to stay kind of simultaneously aware but ignorant of “the world of politics” the “art world” and all the extremist back and forth – even as an onlooker it’s easy to get sucked in because it is fascinating in its own way but the more I see the less it seems to reflect any sort of reality I experience day to day.
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Sounds like a good approach. I actually liked my community college classes the best. I probably learned everything I needed to know from them, and could have skipped the much more expensive university courses.
Nowadays, with the internet, I think people can self-educate. In fact, for me, going to college was just self-educating in relation to their curriculum. Even at the time I just though they provided me with deadlines and I did the rest.
Come to think of it, I’ve taught myself three Asian languages as well. I’m really a self-taught sort of individual, and the self-teaching just keeps on going.
Teachers COULD be very helpful if they share your basic interests and especially if they can help you with the technical aspects of the work. But if they are interested in something else and can’t help you with technique, than, as I said of my grad school while I was in it, it’s a “hiatus from making art”. I knew for sure I couldn’t make any of the kind of art I was interested in, which was also largely true as an undergrad.
I know this because the work I do know would not be allowable.
Likewise college for me has been a great place to facilitate a lot of self-teaching, as well as develop my confidence and interpersonal skills. The past six months I’ve been out of education, working on art at my own pace, doing a handful of paid commissions and giving myself room to do as many other things that interest me as well. I’m one year off of my degree and still weighing up the pros and cons of the decision to do my final top-up year to achieve the qualification – most of the pros are irrelevant to the course itself because in that regard I trust that I’ll just kind of do my own thing. Being in academia has got such a weird mix of freedoms and limitations that even after all this time it’s still hard to pick apart what’s worth doing.
“I’m AWOL and a dreamer” another great phrase, and made think of this song I’ve been playing fairly relentlessly the past few weeks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKdTx0kdN6o
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If it’s just a year, and they have a strong painting program, you can’t go too wrong, unless it’s incredibly expensive. My grad school was way into identity politics, and I’m hoping that’s a bit of an anomaly. I don’t see why there couldn’t be perfectly good art schools.
My UCLA experience was good because they had, at the time, all sorts of teachers, in which case no one perspective dominated or could dominate. There, I even liked some of the more political teachers, come to think of it, because it was not overwhelming.
From what I’ve seen of your art I’d find someplace that will not only let you paint, but help you improve both in terms of technical skill and content. You’d think that wouldn’t be too much to ask, as it is the obvious reason to further your art education (otherwise, why bother?).
Eric that is such a sad story. As this whole post is well articulated I think you have done your readers (as well as yourself) a disservice by commencing with a “RANT ALERT!”, rants typically do not contain much structure nor sequential logic as this hindsight so clearly display. Needless to say I in full agreement with your desire that art teaching should be free of obligation for political content or interpretations. Fortunately my own five years of formal art education was devoid of any such prescribed indoctrination & distraction
But coming from that non-politicised art background, in a purely aesthetic theoretical sense did they ever talk about the differences between art versus propaganda? Dismissing some works as merrily propaganda thus less than acceptable or expected standards of art students??
Another of Ernst Fischer’s books worth reading (if you ever stumble on it) “Art Against Ideology” (copyrighted in the mid-1960s it is well out of print now).
All the best. Keep up the great work.
They would say it’s propaganda if they don’t agree with it. If they agreed with it than it was radical art. Just look at Sonia Boyce’s piece.
But Stuckists do believe in originality, innovation, irony, just not at the expense of all other values. They also believe in maintaining history, yet evolving. Welcome to Stuckism.
Good to hear from you Charles.
While virtually all Stuckists are visual artists, not all visual artists are Stuckists (or Re-modernists). Well, I’ll have to look at your current literature and manifesto, if it’s changed, to see what you guys say you are about presently.
I’m sure we have some common ground, and your articles on Hirst’s wholesale expropriation (OK, theft) of the work of other artists are a benchmark in contemporary art history.
However, we had that sticky little disagreement (you may not have realized who I am) about whether or not my digital paintings were art at all, and you said they were “conceptually art”. This struck me as a critical error on your part, reducing art to necessarily a physical object (which it could be by hitting ctrl+p), and not seeing it as a manifestation of human visual imagination and intelligence. This is rather missing the point of visual art in a very big way.
If you no longer maintain the position that digitally-created painting is merely “conceptually art”, than you have caught up a bit. And thus I would ask myself why I would see myself under the umbrella of a movement which 1) Rejected my work as even constituting art. 2) Was critically behind me in its conception of art. 3) Missed what I consider the fundamental point or object of art.
Beyond those things, there’s the question of movements and manifestos as all. The artists I like the most have individual styles and express their idiosyncratic vision which is, not surprisingly, based on their own particular understanding and orientation to reality. For example, you can look at Van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat, and Cezanne as “Post-Impressionists”, and this works in that the title merely signifies a period after Impressionism.
But we know Van Gogh and Gauguin infamously clashed, and it’s no surprise looking at their art. Both have highly developed styles, but neither could be subsumed by the other. Neither style nor vantage could take over the other. Thus you have two artists each with their own individual style and convictions, yearnings, and so on.
Compare this to Seurat and Paul Signac. Ah, both of those guys are Pointillists with a lot of overlap. I tend to think Seurat was the main innovator there. In any case, those two can legitimately be lumped under the same “ism”, but I think that’s rather a rarety among what I would consider the best artists, or at least my favorites.
Well, again, I’ll have to revisit your literature and see where you guys are at. I’m too much my own idosyncratic beast – an art army of one – to be a part of anyone else’s movement (would you call Giger or Alex Grey a “Stuckist”?). In short, I don’t really believe in movements (isms). Rather I believe in individual artists. If you are a part of an ism, than you are probably a genre artist, and I would almost wonder why bother making art if you are not expressing your own, unique vision. This is not to say Stuckists are genre artists, but merely that isms suggest that.
Finally, I don’t quite understand the Stuckist’s or Re-modernist’s drive to name an ism, write a manifesto, or incorporate other artists under their own heading. I don’t presume to speak for anyone else, nor incorporate anyone else.
My position hasn’t changed since the start of Stuckism. I can’t find the Facebook posts you’re talking about. Can you link? “Conceptually art” doesn’t feel like anything I’ve said! Out of context also…. Stuckist art is ethos-based, not stylistically based. Like Surrealism – an underlying philosophy.
Do you really not remember? Honestly, I find myself in the awkward position of making excuses for you because of your age (I’m 52 and forget stuff on a regular basis), when I’d think you’d remember an exchange about critical art ideas. You wouldn’t consciouslly deny your prior stance, would you? I’d prefer to give you the benefit of the doubt.
I’d have to join your FB group to search for our little debate, and I am skeptical that FB’s search function will work that well. If I could search it I’d search for “conceptually art” because that word-pair isn’t going to occur a lot. You were being clever. And I’m assuming you wouldn’t have gone back and edited or deleted material on the page. So, you could try doing a search for that.
I will be impressed if you find the exchange and admit to the error of your former position, but I won’t hold my breath. And perhaps my memory is wrong – that’s possible – but one tends to notice things clearly and remember them when someone condemns ones art as not even art.
Here, look at the image in question and perhaps this will job your memory (assuming you really forgot):
Your argument was that it wasn’t really art because it wasn’t a physical painting. It was merely conceptually art, and those are your exact words. You further argued that even if a print were made, CMYK doesn’t reproduce greens well. I probably mentioned at that point that there were 6-color printers, and anyways digital paintings can be printed as photographs on photo paper with photographic emulsion.
Yes, you publicly argued that my art was not even art (though you surely would have approved of any of my early works using physical mediums). My feeling at the time was that the Stuckists were too reactionary and biased against new mediums for me to be involved with.
While our positions (mind does change) have some overlap, there are some big differences. Perhaps I’ll write an article about why I’m not a Stuckist. Note that I’m not against Stuckist art at all, but rather support it whole-heartedly. It’s the manifesto and some of your pronouncements that give me trouble.
That is incredibly rude making personal comments about my memory and age, and I trust remarks of this kind will not be forthcoming again. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that you do actually want to have a mature conversation on the topic. I do not recognise the totality of my position in the way you have cast it, so I would be grateful if you refrain from paraphrase, until either you find the original or you let me state my position for myself.
For example, you accuse the Stuckists of being biased against new mediums, but firstly the Stuckism movement was spread through the internet in the first place and was a (relatively) early user of it. Secondly I (and other Stuckists) regularly use digital technology relating to our work. I have created over 150 complete images (i.e. individual pictures) in Photoshop that, as yet, exist only in digital form, though I may print them out one day.
You are surprised that I don’t have much recall of “an exchange about critical art ideas”. That is because it was not of great interest nor of great importance to me. Stuckism is not the dogma you view it as. It was started as a group for contemporary figurative painting with ideas and emotions, truth to self and experience, but always incorporated drawing, print making and sculpture.
As soon as Michael Dickinson burst on the scene, it incorporated his collages as well. I presume it includes my digital images, and potentially could include yours. It is not the medium; it is the content that counts. That has always been the case. You should not confuse the media message with the real ethos.
I cannot find any mention of “conceptually art” or “Eric Wayne” in the Facebook group. Did you use another name?
I asked to join the FB goup to look for it. I have an idea where to look. If the search options are any good I should be able to find it (assuming it’s still there). However, I doubt they are very good.
In any case I know the truth and I remember.
I figured out why you can’t find it. I deleted the old account that I used and am now under a new account. When I deleted it (when everyone was getting super heated after the elections in the US) it erased all of my Facebook history.
Nevertheless I know what you said, and it would have been in 2014, most likely in July.
If you really don’t remember it, than there’s nothing I can do about it. But I do remember it, that was your stance, and I’m not letting you off the hook for it. You apparently also forgot when we had this same argument in the comments section of Hyperallergic, and you denied saying it, and then I copy pasted your actual comments, to which you never replied. Did you forget that as well because it was too inconsequential to remember?
If you look at the Hyperallergic article there are vestiges of our discussion, but I also deleted my Disqus account and all my comments on Hyperallergic are gone. If you wonder why, it’s because I got in a debate with the editor, he insisted on a fact, I provided evidence he was wrong, and voila, I disappeared.
If you want to deny saying that, or if you don’t remember, there’s nothing I can do to prove what happened in reality. However, there’s nothing you can to to prove to me that it never happened, or that the Earth is actually an apple fritter and I am a neon-purple frog.
Well, you shouldn’t delete things, should you, if you think they are that important. I am not accepting a paraphrase or interpretation to represent my position, which I feel is certainly gong to be more nuanced than you give me credit for. Memory plays tricks. People see what they want to see.
If you deleted your comment, does that mean everyone else’s gets deleted along with it? I think it is out of order to do that.
Ruben Notre has put a digital image on the Stuckism Facebook group with a great compliment from Dave Wilson (and no opposition from me): https://www.facebook.com/groups/stuckism/permalink/10157988267365648/
There is a discussion on the page which is specifically about digital art and has not been deleted:
You will see how Stuckist artists also do digital images. Here is my response, which is basically saying digital and painted images (as well as photographic and prints for that matter) have individual unique characteristics and should not be seen as the same:
“Stuckism doesn’t exclude anything. It just likes to see things for what they are and not be hoodwinked by theoretical verbiage into believing that trees are the new elephants. They both have trunks, but that’s about as far as it goes. So digital art is digital art. That’s fine. It’s a way of creating an image and it does so in a certain way with certain results – and can only be communicated in particular ways, which are – like all media – its strength and its limitation. It is obviously at its best on a screen (via digital technology). Painting is best in front of you on a canvas. They are similar in as much as both use imagery and colours, but different in the end displayable result. They are at their best in their own natural environment. There is a place for trees and elephants, but they are not the same. I work with digital images and painted ones. I prefer the physicality and hands-on (different kind of digital!) genre of pigment. I find it more compelling as a unique communication.”
First off, I just read up on some of your writing, and we do agree on quite a lot of things and you made some arguments that I thought only I’d made. You even made them first. One was pointing out that performance isn’t compared to theater, text art compared to poetry, video compared to film … I have perhaps added that they are all compared to painting and only in areas in which they excel over painting (sound sculpture is not compared to music but to deaf and mute painting).
I’ve written a detailed response because I see you’ve repeated some of the same argument where we formerly disagreed. But first a couple little things to get out of the way.
1) OK, your discussion about digital art you linked to is from 2017. Our discussion was in 2014. I can also see on your Stuckism page this bit: “The Stuckists are, therefore, opposed to the current pretensions of so-called Brit Art, Performance Art, Installation Art, Video Art, Conceptual Art, Minimal Art, Body Art, Digital Art and anything claiming to be art which incorporates dead animals or beds – mainly because they are unremarkable and boring.”
Here you quite clearly once held the position that you were “opposed to … digital art” because it is “unremarkable and boring”. True, you did soften it slightly with “the current pretensions of”. However, “the current pretensions of” could also apply to conceptual paintings (Millie Brown’s vomit canvases perhaps), and so we still have the sectioning out of digital art as something the Stuckists were historically opposed to.
2) Here’s another quote from the anti-anti-art manifesto (which I quite enjoyed overall), “Computer ‘art’ is patterns and bad graphics.” Uh, no, not in my hands it’s not.
If you no longer hold that position, than you have changed your tune, or softened it.
Now to more relevant material.
In our discussion in 2014, you also stated that digital art should do what digital art does and not imitate painting. Ring a bell? I think from what you just wrote that you still hold this view. That would rather be a criticism of digital painting, would it not? And my counter is quite simple. Using a stylus instead of a brush, a tablet instead of paper or canvas, and light instead of pigment isn’t a big difference, as they can all be used to render imagery from the visual imagination, which is the crux of the tradition of painting, not merely the physical things. Your argument was a bit like saying that a novel written in Word should not resemble one typed out on a type-writer, in which case someone who uses Word is not a novelist, but rather a “digital writer” somehow divorced from the tradition of literature.
You are confusing style with medium, and assuming one style or genre aligns with one medium. I would say that I make (among other things) drawings and paintings which I happen to create with digital mediums rather than physical ones (because there’s much more flexibility that allows much more of certain kinds of freedoms). While I am probably the worlds greatest digital impasto painter (an accolade that is so worthless – on par with being the fastest toad licker – the pretentiousness of claiming it for oneself can, I hope, be excused), my digital drawings can look more like physical mediums than my actual charcoal drawings. [Note the digital painting at the top of this blog post I created using 3D sculpting software. If anyone else has done anything like this, I haven’t seen it.]
In fact, I use roughly the same technique for some of my digital drawings as I did my charcoal ones. It might be helpful for you to look at some of the work in question, such as this post provides:
Note that it is a tribue to Emil Nolde on top of it. If you look at the art in the post (not just the featured art) the idea that it is “digital art” more or different than drawing and painting is a wilful dismissal.
You wrote; “So digital art is digital art. That’s fine. It’s a way of creating an image and it does so in a certain way with certain results – and can only be communicated in particular ways, which are – like all media – its strength and its limitation.”
I completely disagree. The thing about using the computer, which I think I’ve proved more than anyone (though very few are aware of it at all), is that it is so versatile that you can use it to make drawings and paintings that look extraordinarily like their physical counterparts. So, annoys me about your argument above is that you are denying that I am a painter merely because I switched from using physical mediums to using a stylus, tablet, and computer.
If you knew my early work you’d see that my more recent work is an evolution of it to a large degree. I didn’t change my art, I just changed my tools:
The idea that all art created digitally is “digital art” and has “certain results” which can “only be communicated in particular ways” is to dismiss the art wrongly because of the medium. I say look at the result, not the tools. The computer is a tool that allows all kinds of styles and expressions, not a delimiter of one limited range.
Let’s go with an analogy. Let’s say I was a pianist/composer, and then after getting a Masters in music I decided to teach myself to use a synthesizer and a computer to make compositions (because it was more portable and flexible and affordable). I created sonatas that sounded like I used a traditional piano. Then, along comes a critic and says I make “electronic music” or “digital music”.
You wrote: “It is obviously at its best on a screen (via digital technology). Painting is best in front of you on a canvas.”
Not so fast there. I can print out one of my digital drawings and it will look better than one of my phyisical drawings. I can print it out on drawing paper if I like. I’d also argue that the level to which I can take a digital painting (and I’ve experimented with melding it with 3D sculpture) can also surpass in a quality print (or printed photo version which allows for all the rich colors of photography) my own physical paintings.
You wrote: “I work with digital images and painted ones. I prefer the physicality and hands-on (different kind of digital!) genre of pigment. I find it more compelling as a unique communication.”
That’s fine. I prefer what Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman do with a synthesizer to what they do with a piano. It depends on the artist and what they can do with the different mediums. David Hockney’s digital art blows, and so does Gerhardt Richter’s. I probably prefer your physical paintings to your digital work as well.
If you still think that an artist who uses the computer is necessarily a “digital artist” have a look at a couple videos in which (digital) painters show their technique, and then try to say that they are not painters. Note that they work in a more popular style than I do (my most obvious influences are Bacon and Van Gogh, theirs are concept art and horror/sci fi illustration):
1) (this is a sped up version of a 12-14 hour painting)
2) (this one has narration)
If you still think just because someone still mixes oils and cleans their brushes they are the real painters, than you are probably hopeless, in my considered opinion. Look at what those dudes can do and what I can do and you should realize the computer is just a tool that lets your imagination be the only real limitation (also we are now able to make 3D printed paintings, so they have texture, if one wants to go the route).
Your points 1 and 2. This is polemic and shorthand. It needs to be seen in context. It’s also been there for nearly two decades. It was at the time intended to refer to things like computer games claimed to be art. Yes, I am opposed to conceptual paintings (as opposed to paintings with concepts). No change in position.
Yes, digital art should do what digital art does (best). You are confusing style with medium. Digital painting is not painting, except in a metaphorical sense, because it doesn’t use paint. It uses light, as you say, so it should be called lighting.
Digital visual creation can exist truly only on a computer screen, just as a painting can exist truly only as a physical object. A photo of a painting is not the genuine experience of a painting. It is not the original. It is a poor version of it.
A print out of a digital image is not the genuine experience of it. Printing, however sophisticated, cannot embody the same range of colour and tone as light. It is not the original. It is a diminished version of it.
Here is an analysis of this:
You can of course say you are a print maker and in this case it is not the digital version that counts. It is the paper version. I don’t think you are saying that.
Therefore I am right in saying:
“So digital art is digital art. That’s fine. It’s a way of creating an image and it does so in a certain way with certain results – and can only be communicated in particular ways, which are – like all media – its strength and its limitation.”
You have failed to differentiate between the different ways of experiencing something. To be truly itself, digital art can only exist on a screen. Once it is printed out, it becomes something else.
Likewise, to be truly itself, a painting can only exist as a physical object. Once it is photographed or put on a screen, it also becomes something else.
That is not, despite what you say, necessarily to elevate the one or to dismiss the other. It is just to define their unique qualities.
As for using digital technology to create impasto effects: obviously it will look the same on a screen (which is the point I am making), and presumably it would be possible to create a 3D surface to print on which would actually make it have the contours of an impasto painting, so you could create the illusion of something physically painted, but what is the point of that? It is nevertheless still an illusion.
You would still lose luminosity from your original. You have to decide what your work is. Is it what is on the screen or what you print out? They are two different entities.
I would not say that a photo of one of my paintings, whether on a screen or paper, was one of my paintings. It is a reproduction of it.
You also have to decide whether something that looks like something else should be evaluated as the same as something else or differently, and what implications this has.
Good. I now have you on record saying that digital painting isn’t painting. I can quote you on that. This was where we originally parted ways. None of your arguments have changed.
You argue that digital painting isn’t painting because it doesn’t use paint. Would you then say that digital drawing isn’t drawing because it doesn’t use draw?
“Paint” is a verb, here. One paints with color.
Would you say that someone who types a novel isn’t a “writer” but a “typist”?
What do you call someone who sculpts something using software like Zbrush and then makes a life-sized 3D print of it? Since they work with light, are they also a “lighter”.
You wrote: “You have failed to differentiate between the different ways of experiencing something. To be truly itself, digital art can only exist on a screen. Once it is printed out, it becomes something else.”
This is like saying that if I type a novel on the computer, than it must be read on the computer. I can’t print it out. If I want people to read a printed version, um, I must type it on paper directly.
The content isn’t the physical thing in the novel, it’s the story and the langauge. In the case of a digital painting it’s the image, the color, composition, strokes, and so on. That image can be seen on screen, projected, printed on paper or aluminum if you want. Sure, each way it is shared it’s a bit different, but the essential imagery is the same.
You wrote: “so you could create the illusion of something physically painted, but what is the point of that? It is nevertheless still an illusion.” Try this same argument with music and you will see how it falls apart. It’s a bit like arguing that an MP3 isn’t the same as a record because the record is physical and the MP3 is just numbers. Once the music is played it’s an audio illusion. There’s nothing to hold onto. Nothing physical. It’s just an experience in your ears. And so visual art is an experience in the eyes, an illusion in the mind.
The point of digital impasto is that it can be used to create a new kind of image. Also, I think I started doing it in order to counter attacks from people like, well, you, who said it was impossible and so on.
So, you would say that I am NOT a painter coming out of the tradition of Van Gogh because I happen to use current technology. Nice one. Convincing? But not as convincing as the visual evidence above.
It you can do digital impasto, you can combine that with things like collage, and sculpting, and thus new avenues of expression for human visual imagination and intelligence are opened.
In the case above it’s a painting/sculpting hybrid that can only be done digitally, and yes, it can be printed out gorgeously. And the print is close enough to the image on screen for my satisfaction, and who better than me to be the judge of that?
Get this, you can work on the computer and envision what it will look like printed out. It’s doesn’t change what it is unless you think art is inert materials.
Is the goal of visual art to create new imagery, or to make physical objects using pigment and polymer?
Do ya’ think if Leonardo was alive today he’d say, “Well, sure, there’s all sort of visual possibilities that the computer opens up, but, I’m not interested. I’ll stick to oil paints.”?
This makes me sad. I never attended art school (obviously) but have been thru college a couple of times (music, psychology) and rarely encountered politics as a invading entity, a cultural kudzu vine. Sure, politics came up when we studied what was modern music in the early seventies. And absolutely, there were political references in my time w/psychology. But politics never threatened to absorb either’s identity. Imho, art ought to be freedom but with cool tools. If the artist has a political point of view & wants to hammer people over the head with that point of view, fine. But if artists are EXPECTED to use their work that way what’s the point? Doesn’t that make art nothing more than a marketing tool for the politically driven?
Very interesting – & troubling – post.
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Yeah, when the idea became the most important part of art, the next logical step was to say that the most important ideas were political ones.
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