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Are Computer Graphics A Fine Art?

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the tricky-question-even-without-the-computer dept.

Graphics 444

wduffee writes: "As a young artist and a computer geek, I am interested in converging the two fields of study. I had an art show in Little Rock, Arkansas last year of computer-generated art, but it was very poorly received. The art critics there claimed that computer-generated art was not a 'fine art' but more of a graphic design, regardless of the quality of the work. I have received the same response from art professors here in Mississippi, and from other schools (such as students from Glasgow School of Art in Scotland)." So what makes something art exactly? Does having a computer between artist and object somehow detract from the results?

"These responses come from (in my opinion) ignorance about computer graphic programs as a valid art medium, and a lack of vision as to the possibilities of computer graphics as an art form. Movies such as Shrek and Final Fantasy are bringing the medium more and more into the public eye, but not necessarily into the art world.

My question is: am I alone in believing that computer-generated work is valid field of fine arts? If not, has anyone else had similar experiences of attempting to push computer-graphics as an art form and then met with resistance? What are the slashdot community's thoughts on computer graphics as an art form in general? Is it a medium which will be forever banned from acceptance as an art form, or are there ways to push the medium into the field of art?"

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Nope. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#128440)

Well, to me,' fine arts' means you can fuck it up, and since you can always undo in a graphics program, it doesn't count. QED.

Forget the critics. (2)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 13 years ago | (#128445)

You must disregard the critics and just forge onward with your creativity. The only form of acceptance that matters, if acceptance matters at all, is that by enthusiastic fans of your work.

A creation is art if it exhibits creativity, style and can carry some kind of emotional or intellectual message that appeals to or provokes the mind at some level.

Ray tracing two spheres over a checkered plane is probably not art, but not on account of being computer rendered, but on account of the tiny amount of actual creative input. It's the computer graphic equivalent of throwing a can of paint at the canvas, or painting a few geometric figures; the idea is small, and its translation into the final work is mechanical or random.

Art lies in that region of complexity somewhere between randomness and uniformity.

If the criticism you are receiving is simply about the medium you are using, rather than the forms you are creating within that medium, then that is pure elitism. You should discount that immediately. Any criticism that is not related to what you are actually creating, but to your unorthodox method of creation, should not be considered valid criticism at all.

You have to remember that in the world of art, the value of an artwork is judged by things other than its content. A ridiculously high value is ascribed to an original paining, for instance, even though a faithful replica carries the same information.

In computer graphics, there is no such thing as an original; all copies are equivalent. I suspect that this has a lot to do with why the players in the art world are so disparaging of computer art. You can't do the same kind of wheeling and dealing! A gallery cannot say that it has the original work of some computer graphic artist. A computer file at an surreal price.

(Okay, what you could do is make a one and only print, and then destroy all the digital artifacts that went into it, but I think that digital artists regard those digital artifacts as the real work of art; who wants to destroy their work?)

Implication goes better the other way... (2)

iabervon (1971) | more than 13 years ago | (#128447)

Most graphic design these days is either to be displayed on computers or is at least done on computers. In fact, most images made on computers are probably graphic design.

This doesn't mean that computer art can't be fine art; most images hung on walls are also graphic design products.

Of course, it's possible to define fine art to specify certain traditional media, such that, for instance, only Monet originals and not prints are fine art; similarly, Bach isn't fine art, but music. Oil painting and watercolor and acrylic are different skills from computer art, as they are from mosaic or sculpture. In this sense, computer art is, well, computer art, not anything else.

That doesn't mean it is graphic design, which is an entirely different thing whose principles are often in opposition. Nor is it somehow less pure or real than painting.

Art is bunk. (1)

chrome (3506) | more than 13 years ago | (#128453)

If I can take a toilet, stick it in an "Art" museum, put a glass box around it and call it "Art", then it's "Art".

"Art" is anything that an "Artist" wants it to be.

As "Art" can be made by anyone, anyone can be an "Artist", and therefore everyone is creating "Art" every day of their lives without knowing it. Putting a box down, picking up the remote, holding it in a certain way, going to the toilet - all "Art".

Ipso facto, "Art" is bunk, and so are "Artists".

Bullcrap. (1)

Vermifax (3687) | more than 13 years ago | (#128454)

If I paint with my computer I have to mix colors and brush the virtual canvas.
If I screw something up that cannot be undone (and my file is too large to have multiple copies) I have to go with it. In any case your point that art is only fine art if you can screw it up, is arbitrary at best
So your only remaining point is the texture of the paint, well tough that is just a different medium.
Computer art is most assuredly fine art, you are just in the same class as the critics, not having realizing it yet.

ps - I would also disagree with your statement about algorythms, I have seen people who use algorythms in the same manner that fine art is made from newspaper clippings. It is just another tool, and another medium.


Art is in the person ... not in the equipment! (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 13 years ago | (#128461)

Art is in the person, the character, your creative mind, your feelings at that current time - creates - art ...

Not the paintbrush, the pencil, the type of camera or the type of paper you use nor the medium where you draw it on. The same with sounds ... music ...

If it is wood, metal, glass or on a screen and printed out or on a piano or synthesizer - if there is anything creative in it with YOUR emotions and want to express that on whatever medium - it's art.

If it looks good and can be understood by other people, then it's (nice) art that can be generally accepted.

For example, I have drawn a lot of images on cards (beercards) and scanned them in. Some of them I have enhanced with the PC - is this computer design or art?

To my opinion art, because I have put the feeling and emotions i had on that moment on that paper! The same when I enhanced it, that's finishing it...

The same with computer demos, whenever you create something out of your feelings, you can tell the PC what to do, though, it is your creative mind that tells what you want to see on the screen. If you want to create a vortex where you fly through with a spaceship - then it's computer ART .. though still ART ...

It is historically very known that "new art" is not accepted very well - look to picasso for example ... He did something completely different than "all others" ... was he accepted in the beginning? ...

People are used to certain things and some of them do not want to loose their precious "good old" thing. Same with b/w photography, same with music ...

Some people do create "very easy" stuff by just moving their mouse on the screen and pressing whatever button they want to press ... ("the any key" :o)) that might be a form of art, though if nobody is going to accept it except you .. then it could be your art project is not finished yet :o)

My 2 cents anyway ...

Freaker / TuC

Maybe it's just you. (2)

hatless (8275) | more than 13 years ago | (#128462)

I haven't seen your work, but maybe the local critics just didn't like your stuff. Or maybe they're a little behind the curve in Little Rock (and in the student ghettos of northern Michigan). Art created with computers and even art "generated" by computers has been accepted just fine for decades now.. as long as it's good art.

For instance: Wolfgang Tillmans won the recent Turner Prize, and some of his work was digitally processed. He's an artist, I'd think. More to the point, about a month ago I saw a solo show by a guy named Dan Torop. On the walls were a mix of digitally-enhanced landscape photos (trees and water, mostly) and computer-generated landscapes )(again, of trees and water). Those were half decent, but what I really liked were a couple of computer installation pieces in the middle of the main gallery. One was a navigable VR model of the show itself, including the pictures on the walls... and the computers in the midddle of the room. The other, best of all, was a Racter-like "random poetry generator" that slowly poked out line after line of random pseudotext poetry seeded heavily with David Bowie lyrics and read aloud by an old-school speech synthesizer. It was art. No doubt about it. I didn't see or hear anyone arguing that it wasn't.

Maybe you need to move to a more receptive community. Or maybe you need to ask yourself if the work you were showing meant anything and could move anyone (to laughter, tears, rage, deep thought, lust or whatever). Are your programs that generate images designed to generate images that provoke people to feel something in any of these ways? Did they succeed? That's how I figure out if something's art. Don't know about you.

Just another tool (1)

Scooter (8281) | more than 13 years ago | (#128463)

Surely art is an expression of the artists feeling about something, or view of the world (or just cos it looks nice with abstract art) so whether we use paint, clay, wood, or a CRT as long as it expresses something surely it is art.

Hell people stare for hours at my PC if I fire up winamp and activate the visualisation plugins. That to me is a fine example of computer art - its not totally random, the artists had a look in mind for each visualisation.

Perhaps the critics worry that any image looking too perfect cannot be art, but I've seen large paintings in galeries all over the place that are phot-realistic, but they are held up as examples of fine art (getting a camera would have been quicker though guys). Perhaps they get recognition for the sheer amount of manual labour involved :)

Check out the screen savers that come with most Linux distributions - some of those are fantastic.

Everything is an art. (1)

Axe (11122) | more than 13 years ago | (#128476)

It just depends on your approach and your talent. Sweeping your yard can be an art.

Re:It's not about the tools... (1)

PsychoSpunk (11534) | more than 13 years ago | (#128478)

...even modern digital images show too much of the medium.

And this is why art critics always complain about texture and brush lines and whatnot when they look at what should otherwise be considered a beautiful painting? That's bullshit, and you know it. The medium chosen for a particular piece is considered as important as the piece itself. Warhol would not be Warhol without silkscreening. Pollack (though I despise his work on my own objections) would not be considered the artist he was without the texture inherent in the bubbles of paint smattered across the canvas.

I doubt you've ever really looked beyond the forest when considering art and thus do not fully enjoy the beauty of the trees that is created by layers of oil that create more than the two-dimensional image your mind can barely wrap around.

The medium is to be used as the vehicle of your art, while not betraying its integrity. Admittedly, many digital images do fail this requirement, but then again, there are a lot of starving artists out there using traditional media as well. And that would suggest that they too must be doing something wrong.

It *could* be your art (2)

Hanno (11981) | more than 13 years ago | (#128480)

Too bad you did not give a link to your work, I'd love to have a look at it.

It is possible that your art was poorly reviewed not because it was computer-generated but because it was - well, sorry - not up to their standards.


You are probably on the right track. (1)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 13 years ago | (#128482)

I studied fine art in college (hey, easy credit!) and, when I covered the simester dealing with modern art, I must admit I was shocked. Most of the works require some level of justification now. Newer "advanced" forms of art (Such as "Voice of Fire" at the Canadian National Art Museum) don't look like all that much compared to, say a Tamara De Lempika (my personal, biased opinon...)

However, all the new styles, cubisim, dadaism, what have you were ridiculed most of the time - or wildly celebrated - but when the introduction of a new style came along it was rarely ignored.

Perhaps the composition of art via a computer is the inverse of dadaism. Dada, being completely random - computers being (mostly ;) logical. It will eventually become an accepted medium, it has to IMO.

If people can fawn over Voice of Fire, and then decry computer generated art, these critics are fools.

Sadly, it is all more or less covered by this common blanket statement: "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like." And that is the crux of the issue. If the critics don't like it, then they don't deem it art.

Yes...and no (2)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 13 years ago | (#128486)

I'm going to say that it depends.

As a professional artist who is plenty familiar with computers, I confess that I have seen darn few computer works that I would consider much more than graphic design or technical exercises, so your professors and critics aren't coming out of left field.

Wholly computer-generated works that rise to the level of fine art could probably be counted on a few fingers (though I can't think of any of the top of my head).

Works of fine art with computers which are NOT wholly computer-generated, however, are more abundant. Montage and collage have entered a whole new era thanks to the flexibility in computers that the physical materials don't have.

"The art critics ... the same response from art professors ... and from other schools"

This quote could have come from practically any time before a new art movement took place. So be heartened that you may be the lucky one to prove them all fools and secure your spot in history -- not many have the opportunity to do so, and since computers aren't disappearing anytime soon, I would consider it inevitable that SOMEONE will indeed take advantage of the tools to create new works that we consider fine art.

The bad news is that this isn't a medium, its a tool much more general than that. So first you'll have to figure out *something* more specific than just "computer-generated" to begin a meaningful search.

It would be as if flat surfaces were invented for the first time, you would still have the option of all your mediums, all your surfaces, all your techniques. You couldn't call cave-painting "THE way of making art on a flat surface" any more than you could say duck canvas cloth is defined by oil painting (or vice-versa).

Computers don't impose any limitation analogous to those you see in "normal" fine arts -- not in technique, or method, or time or space or even which sense(s) you appeal to. So there's a heck of a lot of decisions you'll have to make to even start experimenting.

And there's a heck of a lot of learning and experiencing we'll have to do to get to the point where people can recognize that what is being created isn't merely a program or a mathematical equation, but has the requisite creativity and emotive content to be admitted to the club of "fine art".

It took several decades for the fine art world to accept the notion of using acrylic paints instead of oil -- you might be overly optimistic to anticipate them embracing an entirely new way of doing EVERYTHING in the short few years that it has even been possible.

And we'll long have to fight the notion that somehow the computer is doing the real "creating".

So yes, you're right, but you better have some damn good work to back it up if you want to change the world and convince everyone else of it :P

(Why do I have a terrible suspicion that this story will inspire links to the most horrid examples of amateurish CGI and filter-abused GIMP work imaginable?)



Checkered Daemon (20214) | more than 13 years ago | (#128493)

Here we go. (2)

Matt2000 (29624) | more than 13 years ago | (#128502)

Just another day of casual Slashdot punditry on issues that people have been arguing about for centuries. Surely, the top moderated posts will have a definitive answer for us?

While we're looking into the small matter of what constitutes art, we will surely have some time to look back on previous debates settled by this forum:

What is the definition of life? ("I can't believe that [insert name] is such a [big company] whore.").
Are humans rational beings? ("First post! My whang is a laser that will illuminate all of the world with justice!").
Does God exist? ("I haven't read the article, but check out my homepage with pictures of lego boobies").

We really tackle the tough ones here, and we win.

Of course! (2)

cr0sh (43134) | more than 13 years ago | (#128517)

What you are facing is probably not only ignorance, but a common reaction against a new form/medium that all new "art forms" have experienced in their times. It is akin to the mocking photography received in its early days before it too became "fine art".

Tragically, you will probably end up dead before such recognition takes place, but perhaps you won't, given the rate at which computers (and the graphics they can show) are pervading society at an ever increasing rate.

Computers provide something not many other "fine arts" can - interactivity. Especially in the graphics arena. Simply creating a graphic, sending it to a printer, or photo print system, or projecting it as a still, or similar - is fine, but it doesn't truely allow for what the computer excels at. If you use the machine as a tool, find out how to interact with it differently, so that the creation of the final art, while computer generated, also has that "touch" of the artist (here is an idea - create a system by which you control a CNC milling machine on a block of steel with a computer, through which you interact and guide the system via a funky Theremin-like interface - even the act of creation could be viewed as performance art). Or, allow the audience "viewing" the "work" to cause the work to change over time, given guidelines by you, the artist (hmm - how about this, think of an audience surrounding a large, deep box, which has sand, or some other material in it, a grid of tubes, and a computer controlled pneumatic system, that would cause the sand to "bubble" and such based on audience "sound" and "motion" input - perhaps taken via video feeds).

Artists have done this kind of art before with computers - I don't think you will get very far though with straight graphic designs, but I wouldn't consider it impossible. Perhaps you could back project the images onto a dome, or somehow immerse the audience in the work (the presentation of the art can be as important as the art itself - sometimes the presentation is the art!)...

Maybe I should have become an artist...

Then again, maybe I don't know jack about art, and you should ignore me?

Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!

It's going to take a while.. (4)

bravehamster (44836) | more than 13 years ago | (#128519)

Humans using computers to create art will take a very long time to be accepted as a fine art form. The reason for this are numbers. Because numbers are involved, because they are exact, because they lack the ambiguity that makes art human, it will be a long time before full acceptance into the art community. Most art instructors that I've dealt with see computer art as a form of Paint-by-the-Numbers. No room for individual artistic talent (in their minds) because you can do something exactly the same, over and over, and another person can sit down and make the exact same thing, in every way identical.

There is something about this that is abhorrent to the average art instructors mind that they fail to see the multitude of possibilities inherent in computer art. _They_ will never accept it because someone "untalented" can create something to be proud of with little or no training. What they don't realize is how hard it is to move from that stage to the truly artistic level.

That being said, I personally feel that it is art, and even a fine art. Of course my definition of art also includes architecture, code, etc. Anything involving a human mind and a medium in which to work can become art. All you need is an artist.

I find it hard to imagine.. (2)

jcr (53032) | more than 13 years ago | (#128523)

..why anyone, much less an artist, should care about the opinion of the art critics in Little Rock, Arkansas has to say about your work.

Remember, Art Critics are the kind of cretins who fawn all over any asshole in a beret who pelts his audience with raw liver and screeches about how he's being oppressed by not receiving public funding for pissing on a picture of Elenor Roosevelt.

Keep copies of those reviews, and bring them out in twenty years or so. Those clowns will sound just like the idiots in the 1860s who claimed that photography wasn't a Fine Art.


It can be a form of fine art: (1)

wolf- (54587) | more than 13 years ago | (#128525)

If we say that the computer, between the artist and his work, seperates the work from fine art, then the brush for a painter, or the knife for a sculptor seperates those artists works from fine art.

Now, what do "I" personally consider to be a fine piece of computer work?

Two things determine that for me.

Is the work something I could have done using a better piece of software? IE: is it the quality of the tools that helped to produce the work, or is it the artists skill?

Is the work something I've thought about before? Or, is it "WOW! I could never have thought of that!"?

Whether 2d graphics, or 3d scenes or animations, or mathematically created fractals, I consider them to be an art form.

If some of your work is available online, post a url.

Re:Nope. (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 13 years ago | (#128528)

The biggest problem with computer graphics being fine art is that its such a rapidly evolving technology, works quickly show their age in bad ways. CG "art" from just a few years ago looks really plastic and cheasy compared to modern graphics, an effect that the artist probably didn't intend. I think the medium will have to stabilize for a few years before it can be viewed as legitimate art.

Re:Unfortunately, yes (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 13 years ago | (#128529)

Yes, but it SEEMS easier. It's a lot easier to create something that looks like artwork ("hey I'll just take this photograph and apply three random filters... wow that looks nifty!") with photoshop than it is to do the same with paint.

Actually, that's not entirely correct. There are some people out there who just throw paint randomly on a canvas to hide their lack of skill and put some label on top of it. I'm not critisizing abstract or modern art here: there are some truly great artists who have worked in the field of non-representational images in the past 70 years or so, but more snotty art school kids who think that they can get around learning how to draw.

Anyway, I'm afraid CGI art is somewhat burdened by those who think discovering a new combination of filters qualifies as art. Real works of skill will emerge and prove the critics wrong.

Re:It's not about the tools... (2)

colmore (56499) | more than 13 years ago | (#128530)

I've posted something similar above so mod me as you will...

I think digital art forms age quite differently than others. While old photographs have a very cool appearance, old digital images (old video games, images, what have you) have a way of just looking tacky.

It's a bit like Comic Books as art. Looking back on old comics, it's hard to see real "Art" as opposed to nifty cultural artifacts. Anyone arguing that comic books could be art back in the 1940s wouldn't have had much to support themselves on. But now there is a (small) number of artists producing really great things with that medium, check out the work of Chris Ware and Dan Clowes to see what I'm talking about.

Also even modern digital images show too much of the medium. They are very identifiably digital and seem to be making statements about technology regardless of what they portray. Hmmmm... maybe a better analogy: digital art today is painting in pre-reniassance Europe, the form has to evolve some before the art can escape the trappings of the medium.

Re:Art defined? (1)

ptevis (56920) | more than 13 years ago | (#128531)

I prefer Scott McCloud's definition. Art is anything not purely motivated by survival or reproduction.

Technology and "fine art" (1)

tolly (73415) | more than 13 years ago | (#128540)

I agree, the impression I get from the ndustry to day is that artwork done with computers are not considered "fine art." Ineed it that term itself "fine art" that is vague and difficult to define. i.e. what does "fine art" mean to you and what does it mean to somone else.

I believe, that the issue of technology and where that is incorporated into the definition does not sit well with most people and how much technology must the be (or not be) before it is no longer a "fine art".

I have met people that argue photography is not a "fine art" because the medium is not tanigble and not maleiable by hand. Thus, sculpting and painting is considered "fine art".

At the othe end of the spectrum, is Shrek considered "fine art"? Most peop would probably say no, from a gut reaction but can't provide a satisfactory explaination when asked why. My guess is that people look poorly upon the commericalism and the technology behind the production.

Since clasisscal critics of art do not know how to catagorize computer aided artwork, many have create a new genre of work called "digial media", which includes interactive, still, and animated artwork.

Ken Knowlton (2)

selectspec (74651) | more than 13 years ago | (#128541)

I used to work with Dr. Ken Knowlton. He was a pioneer in computer generated art in the 60's and 70's.

a bit on academics and technology (1)

tcyun (80828) | more than 13 years ago | (#128543)

First off, I think it is fairly difficult for someone to say that something is or is not art. Today's NYT's [] has an interesting article [] on that subject. However, I am not sure that saying that everything can be art, or that nothing is art really helps anyone.

I know that there are a number of people working on digital art projects in the academic realm as well as in the commercial field. (MIT's [] media lab is a neat place, prob not the artistic ammunition you need) (something is wrong with RISD's [] site, I suspect they could provide good academic support.)

The first thing to say to defend the belief that digital works can be art is to draw the analogy to the initial receptions of impressionism (a la Monet Pissaro) and abstract impressism (a la Pollack, Kandinsky). Then, you would probably want to talk about some more examples of "art" that use technology [] as a medium. From an artistic standpoint (and I am not in any ways an artist, or an anuthroity on what it takes to be one) it seems that one would need a vision and a desire to create something that has meaning. I know that performance art is about the execution/performance. So, digital art could include things like video games, which has been discussed on slashdot before.

Overall, I must say that to make the sweeping generalization that digital "things" can not be art is a bit shortsighted. The evolution of technology has always had an effect on the ability to create art (most modern artists do not need to "learn" alchemy in order to make paint...).

Heck YES! (1)

Moonshadow (84117) | more than 13 years ago | (#128545)

I'm an artist. I work in traditional media, as well as digital. I create 3D renderings, I paint digitally, and I color scanned drawings on the computer.

Does that make it less art? NO!

Art is the expression of creativity. If it's expressed through a pencil or a mouse, I don't care. The point is that someone is sharing a piece of their world with the rest of us.

Take one of those critics to see Final Fantasy and tell me what they think.

Re:Nope. (2)

Moonshadow (84117) | more than 13 years ago | (#128546)

Wow, I guess that means using an eraser is out of the question, then?

Artists don't create something perfectly the first time around. It take a sketch, and then many refinings of that sketch to even begin a decent drawing.

Edit/undo is a tool. Just a particularly powerful one.

Amazing (5)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 13 years ago | (#128549)

Elephant feces are a valid medium for fine art, but computer graphics aren't? Hmph!

I think you're just running into resistance against a new medium. New media, and the new art forms that inevitably accompany it, always encounter resistance from the art establishment.

Salvador Dali once said something like, "Whatever you do, begin by painting like the old masters. After that, no one will ever question what you do." An astute observation (and an approach that worked for him; he began his career as an Impressionist) but like any brilliant insight it's obvious in retrospect. If computer graphics are not yet a medium for fine art, it's mostly because there are no established artists who say it is. It's easy for critics to dismiss any new movement composed soley of newcomers to the art world; it's more difficult to do so when it's participated in by artists who are more well-known and respected. I think you will need to gain acceptance for yourself first, by working in more traditional media. Once you're already known for your fine art, it will be presumed that anything you create is also fine art. That will be the time to introduce computer graphics into your corpus of work.

Definition of a Fine Art read it here first (1)

Fyndlorn (88381) | more than 13 years ago | (#128555)

If you can't screw up royally while doing it, its not a fine art. Whether that means painting (who bumped into me?!) sculpture (damn! there goes the nose!), stage acting (ummm, umm, line!), or live music performance (*screeeech*, damnit!)

I would say so (1)

JohnG (93975) | more than 13 years ago | (#128561)

I would definetly call computer graphics fine art. I'm always amazed at the relative beauty that a simpleton like me can create with a program like blender. But relative is...well.. relative. Just looking at some of the awe-inspiring work that other blender users have done makes me look like a little child doodling in kindergarden art class.
I would certainly consider what they do as art. 3d Modelling is alot like sculpting, the more detail you put into it, the better it looks. The more detail you want to put the better your artistic vision and "eye" has to be. The only difference is that in 3d modelling you can't just sculpt the object, you also have to place the camera in the perfect position to get the best quality "photograph". And possibly the biggest hangup I've had in modelling is position of lights (and indeed the objects themselves). All of these things are things which affect "real" artists, be they still life arrangers/painters, sculptors or photographers.

I've used an old IBM terminal as a boat anchor... (1)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 13 years ago | (#128562)

I don't see why you can't use it as the base of a welding sculpture or something.

What is art? (2)

Lish (95509) | more than 13 years ago | (#128563)

What do we, or they, or anyone, consider to be art? To me, "fine art" (in this sense) is any creative expression through a visual medium. You may hold a different personal definition. Is a bunch of paint splatters art? To some people yes, to some no. Is a cartoon art? Again, some would say no, though many would say yes. I happen to prefer Monet paintings to Navajo blankets, but that does not make either one more or less worthy of the moniker "art." Art is in the eye of the beholder. Unfortunately, many of those in the art world have a vested interest in keeping art defined in a very narrow way that suits them.

It took many years before cartoonists were regarded as artists, and in many circles cartooning is still seen as "lesser art" than painting or sculpting. Computer-based art, art though it is, has a long road ahead before it will break through similar prejudices in the art community.


Re:No, you're not alone. Gladly condur on this one (3)

Winged Cat (101773) | more than 13 years ago | (#128569)

Aye. "I'll know art when I see it" is so often used as an excuse to disguise the subjective as objecive. It may not take a generation any longer for most people to recognize a new form of art - but in this case, the problem is that those in power have a "the world is this way and it's always gonna be this way" attitude, and will project that attitude on their institution until personal death or retirement. While their replacements will have a more up to date vision of how the world is, far too often, they just ossify into the same attitude with regard to further changes.

Still, one can hope that, as the pace of change in human society speeds up, believing that the world does not change will become more and more obviously preposterous (and thus, less and less common).

Re:Nope. (1)

Caspuh (105645) | more than 13 years ago | (#128574)

Not only that, but you can duplicate it as many times as you want and it costs almost nothing and doesn't loose quality.

I work in an Art Gallery... (1)

xspatz (106693) | more than 13 years ago | (#128575)

I work in an Art Gallery, and we have "Fine Art and Design" shows. Computer generated art is art, but it's not Fine Art. It's Design. Fine Art falls under: a.Art produced or intended primarily for beauty rather than utility. b.Any of the art forms, such as sculpture, painting, or music, used to create such art. Computer generated art is still veryvery new to the Art community. Although you may bitch and moan about not being appreciated as a Fine Artist, potters get the same predjudice, as well as drawers. Is drawing really Art? Or is it just sketches? It is Art, but the Art community is full of snobs, and doesn't consider drawing as finely tuned an artform to consider. Pottery/Ceramics have the same problems, because some pottery can be used (vases/cups/bowls), but the majority of pottery is for the sole purpose of being Art. But because you can use pottery, the Art community considers them more "crafts," and not Fine Art. What you are complaining about is basic Artist bitching. You will never be appreciated as much as you want, and the schools are obviously in the wrong (Artists are clearly always right). If it bugs you so much, I advise you make your own gallery show. That's what I've done. There's nothing the Art community loves more than bitchy rebel Artists. The question of Fine Art is futile. In the Muses, painting isn't even mentioned, and yet these days we consider painting the only Art. Just have patience. Cheers, Tamr

From my vague memories of aesthetics (1)

thermostat42 (112272) | more than 13 years ago | (#128584)

The question 'what is art?' is a favoriate of aesheticians, and there are many theories. I can give my recolection of a couple of them:

Old School
Plato thought of art as representation, and as such he didn't have much respect for it. a picture of an apple is further away from the Form of an Apple than an actual apple is. In the light of Plato (or neo-Platonists) CG art probably fairs relatively well, since you probably are trying to represent something (be it concrete or abstract).

To these guys art is an open concept. Art is about breaking rules and truly creating. The problem they have, it that that can easily lead to the problem that "everything is art." So to fend against that, they have the amorphous concept of "family resemblance." Basically, if you have certain characteristic that the "art community" deems in commom with previously accepted works of art, poof! its art. CG Art probably doesn't do to well here, because as it was pointed out, CG art is tied to the decidedly non-fine art Computer design.

Those are the only two I remember, though there are many more. Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about being accepted by the artistic community -- you're not going to be. But that doesn't mean that you can't find artists out there with simmilar skills/interests, and you can certianly keep creating, which is really the most important thing.


wrong question (1)

_ska (114561) | more than 13 years ago | (#128588)

Computer graphics aren't art. But neither is canvas and oil-based paint.

It is a medium. So the real question is: Is computer graphics a valid medium for fine art?

Which begs the questions: "Can you define a "valid" medium for fine art"? and "Can you define fine art"?

Anyways, I would argue that the medium is irrelevant, but you are going to fight an uphill battle for a while. The art world can be very conservative, surprisingly enough.

it's art allright (1)

jpostel (114922) | more than 13 years ago | (#128591)

My wife has a BFA ¥bachelor of fine arts and one of the guys I work with has an MFA© They are both artists and both do lots of artwork on their computers© I was just at an exhibit in NYC of computer artwork at Parsons School of Design in NYC©

The Parsons School teaches many art and technology type of classes, because they realize that art is what you take away from it© It's a feeling and a conveyance of emotion and not just paint on canvas or pixels on a screen© Art historians will note that 'the photograph' was not considered art for quite a while©

Check out www©parsons©edu and tell me that some of the exibits are not art©

fine arts != design++ (1)

~MegamanX~ (119882) | more than 13 years ago | (#128596)

  1. Art produced or intended primarily for beauty rather than utility.
  2. Any of the art forms, such as sculpture, painting, or music, used to create such art. Often used in the plural.
And from your question: The art critics there claimed that computer-generated art was not a 'fine art' but more of a graphic design, regardless of the quality of the work.

I always thought that the main difference between fine arts and design was the purpose of the work rather than its quality. Graphic design deals with beauty and usefulness. Fine arts usefulness is beauty.

I don't know if computer generated arts can be called fine arts if the computer does it for beauty or if the programmer does it for beauty. But I think the main problem here is not knowing if it is called fine arts or graphic design, but if it can be called arts at all.

phobos% cat .sig

If it makes you feel better.... (3)

fluxrad (125130) | more than 13 years ago | (#128602)

most of that shit people slop on to canvases and take pictures of isn't even art ;-)

the problem is that people, in general, are getting too wrapped up in the medium. The dogma has become: Music = Art, Painting = Art, Drawing = Art, Photography = Art.

Art is that which enriches the soul. However that thing that gives you an introspective into yourself and helps you know you better is formed is completely irrelevant. Painting != Art. Drawing != Art.

So to answer your question: No. Computer generated graphics is not art. If you can generate something on a computer that makes people really think and come away from it a better person, then that is art.

After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network

from graphics to art (2)

small_dick (127697) | more than 13 years ago | (#128607)

Before starting, stain your printing paper liberally with urine tracks.

Next, I'd suggest adding a cross, some blood and maybe dab a bit of faeces or vomit here and there.

Before 'mounting' your 'art', get liquored up and roll around in it on your bed as you have unprotected sex with your animal(s) of choice.

Now, that will get you rave reviews and you'll be the toast of the New York, LA and San Francisco galleries!

Treatment, not tyranny. End the drug war and free our American POWs.


bjrubble (129561) | more than 13 years ago | (#128609)

SFMOMA [] currently has an exhibit with a heavy emphasis on computers. But I think it's instructive -- very few of the pieces could ever be construed as "graphic design." Without seeing the show in question, it's hard to say whether it was unfairly painted or whether it really was graphic design masquerading as art. But I think you're going to be fighting an uphill battle if your computer-generated art isn't some sort of statement about technology itself. Using a digital canvas just isn't very thought provoking in itself.

Computers can produce fine art (2)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 13 years ago | (#128612)

My question is: am I alone in believing that computer-generated work is valid field of fine arts?

You most certainly are not alone. Computer based work may be too cutting-edge for old fuddy-duddies, but it most certainly is not for Modern Art lovers. I'm a member of The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art [] and they most certainly have their share of computer based work in their exhibitions. They even have a digital gallery [] on their web site, which is part of their ongoing program of encouraging computer-based artwork. To quote:

MOCA is guided by the conviction that digital technology provides new avenues for artistic exploration, new ways to enhance experience within the museum, and a new means for artists to reach a much larger audience throughout the broader culture.

So some people in fine arts most certainly do support computer artwork.

of course not (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 13 years ago | (#128617)

If I paint an actual canvas, I have to mix colors, and brush the canvas. Plus the texture of the paint is in and of itself part of the art.
If I sculpt something, and I make a mistake I have to go with it(or pay lots of money for marble).
this goes for most art that is created and exists in 'real space'
Is computer art still creative? yes.
Is it art? yes.
is it fine art? no.
This is assuming your atually creating the piece of art. If you run a computer algorithom that generated all the art, you are no longer an artist, or being creative. Yes the creation of the algorithom MAY be a creative task, but thats another question.

Re:of course not (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 13 years ago | (#128618)

This is exactly why I posted that algoriths where for another topic.
And I said computer images are art, Just not Fine art. Just like Pollock isn't fine art.
Fine art does not mean good or bad, just a level of 'intamacy' between artist and medium.

Of course it was poorly received... (1)

KidLink (136594) | more than 13 years ago | (#128620)

Go read an art history book. Most new art forms are poorly received in their own era.

of course it's art (4)

startled (144833) | more than 13 years ago | (#128628)

Art critics are often much more closed-minded than they'd like to admit. There are one or two with vision, and the rest of them follow along with the current "scene". Maybe crosses dipped in piss are popular this year; next year they're passe; the year before they weren't art.

Where a lot of the resistance is coming from, however, is the fact that art involving computers is often commercial. You'll see the same disdain towards commercial art-- people who paint pretty, inoffensive scenes for people to put in their homes. You see it in a lot of bigotry towards movies as an art form-- some justified, some not, but a lot of art critics display some degree of prejudice toward their movie critic counterparts. It's the commercial pressures-- obviously a starving painter isn't in it for the money, whereas Ridley Scott is fairly well off. (Side note: Scott's Bladerunner was actually showing on a television in the middle of an art exhibit at the Louisiana museum in Denmark. Very cool.)

Are people doing things about it? Yes. A friend of mine was originally an art major at Stanford (one of, say, a couple dozen-- not exactly the usual track there), but changed to an individually designed major called Visual Studies in Computer Animation. She and a staff member or two worked fairly hard to squeeze a few bucks worth of computer equipment out of the school (while quad-proc machines were sitting unused in the Gates Building basement, but that's another story). Now there are several classes involving digital art and computer animation. There's also a building/room for SUDAC, Stanford University Digital Art Center. It's fairly tiny and not too well-funded, but it's a start.

For a while, the art department didn't want anything to do with them. I'm not sure what their stance is now, though, since a lot of art students take digital art classes.

Back to the original question, anything can be art if it offers sufficient revelation. It's often difficult to understand why artists, supposedly in pursuit of new insight, are so quick to dismiss a new medium. My guess is that it's because a lot of the early stuff is crap-- using computers for the sake of using computers, and not as a powerful tool for art. A few great things are starting to pop up here and there; I found a few nuggets at the SFMOMA digital art exhibit. A few years from now, I think the evidence will be irrefutable-- digital tools will powerfully change the way we experience art.

What constitutes art? (1)

Cryptnotic (154382) | more than 13 years ago | (#128638)

Well, according to this article [] at the world's most respected news source, The Onion [] , a work needs to be sacriligous and smeard with feces in order to be considered art. Since it is rather difficult to smear a computer generated work with feces, it is thus difficult to make computer generated art. Perhaps if you smeared your computer with feces and images of Jesus or Budda, then your work could be considered art. But as I am not an art expert, I cannot comment further without speculating.



partingshot (156813) | more than 13 years ago | (#128643)


Age old philosophical debate finally put to rest!

Interesting that you should ask us, of all people. (3)

Morbid Curiosity (156888) | more than 13 years ago | (#128644)

Given the target demographic here, you're mostl likely to find people who agree with you. There's a lot of people here who live and breathe computers. They're tools we use every day, for all sorts of tasks, and so the chance that we'd see them as a legitimate tool for expression is much higher.

That said, I still do think that it's possible to create "fine art" using a computer. It's a different medium, certainly. That doesn't make it (in my eyes) any less legitimate. I've seen both purely computer generated art, and art which started as paper sketches only to be scanned and refined, that is of very high quality indeed - stuff which made me think "You did all that in Photoshop?" or something similar.

The art world - especially the world of "fine arts" tends to be a different story. Many probably see the use of computers as "cheating" - that somehow if computers make artistic effect easier to create, then it's just not the same as doing it all by hand. In photography, producing an effect by digital manipulation wouldn't received as well as the same effect produced by techniques such as double exposure.

For all that the art world seems to like to promote avante garde, new expressions, it can also be quite a paradoxically traditional and hidebound institution at times. I get the feeling that it's going to be quite a while yet before computer-created graphic art is considered a legitimate medium by the mainstream of "fine arts".

Then again, I consider quite a number of works of SF to be "literature", too...

Art Colleges (1)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | more than 13 years ago | (#128646)

Art schools like Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design & Minnesota College of Art and Design specifically separate computer art as a separate medium. Art is simply a visual expression of thoughts, emotions, or concepts, so really anything can be art. If it's received poorly, it's simply because people are stuck in tradition and don't like change. If you consider yourself an artist, do what feels right... no matter how it is received. You'll see that as more computer generated art appears in galleries and museums, art critics will accept it more. It's just a matter of time.

Bah! (3)

PopeAlien (164869) | more than 13 years ago | (#128654)

Aren't critics always a bit slow to warm up to something new? Photography, lithography and all sorts of 'technical' artforms went through phases where people were wowed by the technical side of them, but wouldn't consider it art.

Art is such a silly subjective thing. When I was in art-school, the instructors were *very* protective of their 70's era definition of art, and dismissive of a lot of art forms that came before and after.

Ah well, I suppose in 20-30 years there will be a new batch of art students creating a stir with their bio-genetic artworks as my generation adjusts it's glasses and looks back to our flatscreens saying yes yes thats all very impressive, but it's certainly *not* art.

Art is, in a very loose definition, anything you do creatively, if it inspires you, go with it.

Age Old Question (2)

danheskett (178529) | more than 13 years ago | (#128666)

If even existed an age-old question sure to turn the generations against each other, it surely involves either art or music.

"Thats not music! Music is like xyz"
"Yes it is, piss off you old bugger!"

This conversation is just a rehash of the same old question.

As for my gen-x++ (or whatever they call us) opinion:
Art is anything that isn't readily uniquely produceable in mass quanities - yes that means that pop-lollipop CD's aren't art but that the Linux kernel is. Fine art is any art that is both rare and hard to create, in any quantity. That means the Linux kernel is out, but hand-blown glass - lamp shades in the shape of a penguin are in.

Thats the distinction in my eyes - for example music that is basically the equivalent of 'Nysnc (taking pre-written pre-orchestrated songs and running them through the Music-ifier 5000) is similiar to running a seed number through a complex forumla to produce a graphic design. In the same vein, writing, producing, and recording a piece of music is art just like carefully designing, implementing, and rendering a 60-second [] movie clip or still frame is art.

Why do you care? (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 13 years ago | (#128667)

It seems to me that most of the great artists did it for the art, and not for the public acceptance. Sure, success is nice, but greatness is achieved from the message that the artist tries to convey. Of course, it should be noted that many artists are not appreciated until after they're gone.

Let me turn the question around. What are you trying to convey with your art? Does the computer give you abilities that you wouldn't otherwise have in other mediums, much like using watercolor versus oil paints?

But to answer your question, I think new art mediums are accepted when artists use them to advance the boundaries of art, not just to "make l33t pictures".


Art defined? (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#128669)

Art has several elements

1) Communication: Art is a form of communication. Therefore, does it reach the intended audience? via the medium that It is expressed in (rock music, sculpture in silly putty or stone, etc.

2) Technique: The quality of technique can have an impact completely aside from anything else.

3) Audience Response, also know as Participation of the Audience. It has to be interactive somehow on some level, emotional, philosophical, etc. This often means using the symbolism, etc of the culture and people your are intending to reach.

As an example, do a web search for the painting, the "Volga Boat Men". This was famous in pre-revolution Russia, to the extent that many revolutionaries made a pilgrimage to the painting and swore an oath on it. YOU look at it now, and the impact may be a bit less. It worked within that culture, probably less so for ours.

4)Social Agreements and the Opions of Experts - This is where a lot of bullshit lives. you often have a lot of arbitrary opinions, such as that art would have to involve a lot of hard work and effort. Therefore, something that a genius tossed off with minimum effort would be less artistic then something with alot of struggle. which is nonsense. Also, artistic expression can only be through familiar techniques. Which is another bit of junque.

For example, I consider Linux as an OS is a work of ART by Linus, which uses the bits of contributed code as the elements of the montage. It is a somewhat of a self potrait in that regard.

The important part is that familiar techniques usually communicate more easily than unfamiliar ones. 5) Art as a weapon: Comment: Art for Art's sake is nice, but tends to sabotage communication if carried to far. Because Art is also partly communication, you can use it to do something. You can use it as a weapon. Again, the Painting the "Volga Boat Men" was a weapon against the Russia of the Tsars.

Final Thought: Ultimately, Art is something that YOU breath life into. If it is not alive, it is not art. If it is alive, it will communicate, and it is ART. What kind of life it is it up to you.

and yes, in this regard a community or an OS or anything else can be a work of ART.

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

Re:Never .. (1)

hygelic (181078) | more than 13 years ago | (#128672)

leave your workstation logged in, visit slashdot, and walk away from your desk.

It's not about the tools... (5)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 13 years ago | (#128676)'s about the artist. The computer is just a different kind of brush.

New tools have always been met with controversy. The organ caused as much of an uproar as the Moog synthesizer; both are now celebrated. Photography wasn't considered an art until after people realized that it truly is an artistic medium.

Real Artists(tm) will understand that what you do with/on the computer needs to be evaluated based on its artistic merits, without prejudice based upon the tools you used to create it.


who cares what they say (1)

jchristopher (198929) | more than 13 years ago | (#128683)

Let me just say that if you're going to be a real artist, you'd best learn to give a dump about what the critics say.

How cares what the local art snobs think about your work: either you will continue to do it regardless of whether you make money, or you will stop. The opinions of the critics have nothing to do with it.

Nudies? (3)

Nyktos (198946) | more than 13 years ago | (#128685)

I take pictures nude pictures of myself and then use photoshop to digitally "enhance" my penis. Is this considered "art".

"Art" is one-of-a-kind (4)

mblase (200735) | more than 13 years ago | (#128689)

Sculpture, paintings, and the like all have one thing in common: they are each completely unique. When you buy a work of those arts, you know you have something that is one-of-a-kind. It was created at one time by the artist's hand, and no copy or duplicate will ever be just like it.

A rung below these "fine arts" you have lithographs and woodcuts, media which aren't unique but aren't infinitely recreatable, either. A lithograph by M.C. Escher will exist as part of a limited run, each print numbered uniquely with the collector knowing that lower numbers equal higher quality. These are never as valuable as one-of-a-kind artworks, but are still considered "art" because of the above.

Rare posters and collectibles are a rung lower yet. These are certainly not one-of-a-kind, but they are also "limited", although each instance of the art was identical when it was new. Value is based on grade and "newness" of the item. Rare World's Fair posters or Hummel figurines may still be considered "art" because of this, but the term "collectible" is more accurate. This is no longer "fine" art, it is mass-produced and manufactured.

Computer-generated art falls into this category as well, then. While it is without question artistic and creative, it is not unique. Existing in digital form, it can be reproduced ad infinitum as long as the digital data exists. If you were to print it in a limited run and then destroy the original data, you might have a collectible. If you were to print it exactly onceand then destroy the file, you might have "fine art".

Pixels on a monitor, however, will never qualify as "art" to those who discuss the meaning of the term. Art, like people, needs to have a uniqueness to it in order to be appreciable.

No, you're not alone. Gladly condur on this one. (3)

jpellino (202698) | more than 13 years ago | (#128693)

Look, every emerging art or music form is first decried as an abominaiton, against god, trash, junk, etc. Look at Van Gogh (hell most impressionists), Picasso, Beethoven, Wagner, Miles, McCartney... it'll pass, but sadly, it'l be a generation - the people gnashing their teeth have to die first (that's a quote from Alan Kay about computer usage)

How to make computer art into fine art (2)

abe ferlman (205607) | more than 13 years ago | (#128696)

It sounds like what you need is a printer. Preferably one with a very fine resolution.


Don't worry - you're in good company (1)

snStarter (212765) | more than 13 years ago | (#128705)

Tune into A&E and watch the biography of the Impressionists. Their critics were just as blunt and just as wrong.

In some ways computers make it too easy - in other ways too hard: you have to learn bits and bytes and stuff which always seems to alarm the art crowd who worry about selling their souls to the machine gods.

Photography has only been recognized as an art in the last half of the 20th Century.

So keep up the work, screw the critics, and go to town! You have my respect if you can.

Answer is pretty complicated... (2)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#128707)

Art is art regardless of how it was generated; ink, oils, canvas, paper, computer, etc.

On the other hand, because it's computer generated and it's visual doesn't mean it's art, either. The definition of art is vague and left as an exercise to the reader :)

If I were to claim computer generated art as, well, art, I'd be using it to do things impossible in any other medium. Truly push the computer generated portion. Animated 3d stereograms rendered on the fly from a filtered video sequence picked up from a USB cam. Or using multiple speakers and 3d sound generated from IP traffic modifying sounds picked up from the room itself, creating a shifting, moving, living soundspace.

My own take on art is that it's an expression of your soul.

Geek dating! []

Art? yes Fine Art? maybe (1)

segfaultcoredump (226031) | more than 13 years ago | (#128721)

One minor problem is the issue of scarcity.

Anybody can get a print of a Picasso and put it on their wall. Ok, now how many folks have the original on their wall? ok, thought so.

Fine art is hard to physically get ones hands on. This rarity makes it valuable. Now, if folks can store your art work on a floppy and make a million copies, what is an individual copy worth? Its not like the original has any value since one can never prove that it is the original. Is there even an original?

Photographs are the same way. One can make as many copies as they wish with the original negatives. However, through access to the original negatives one can increase the value of any of the copies.

So, I suggest that you do the following (similar to a suggestion by another poster who said to go and get a printer):

Get a good slide printer and then go make enlargements of the resulting film. These prints (numbered and signed) have value. Only by controlling the number of original prints made can you control the value and thus the determination in the future of your works 'value' as art vs 'fine art'.

but anyway, my 0.02 worth

Yes (1)

wrinkledshirt (228541) | more than 13 years ago | (#128722)

Okay, avoiding all the usual James Joyce "if-a-guy-coughs-on-a-block-of-wood-and-it-turns-i nto-a-cow-is-it-art?" type stuff...

I think the reasons people resist the whole computer artwork as fine art comes from the fact that you need to understand certain scientific principles in order to bring the artwork into existence, whereas, to be a decent writer you only need to drink alot. Architecture probably gets a bad rep because of this too (the science part, not the drinking part).

What constitutes a fine art is an expression of something that can be taken as a metaphor for something else. The canvas is irrelevent, and the tools are irrelvent. If someone says that you can't use hard science to create art, either (a) show them the various films out there that rely on computer animation to render entire characters in their film, or (b) show them a photographer who has to measure lighting levels for a scene to work, or (c) show them any number of sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci. In pretty much the same way that a novelist can use a word processor to generate a novel (which is universally looked upon as fine art), a computer graphics artist can use Bryce or 3d Studio Max (or, heck, even C) to create a work of fine art. In both cases, the canvas starts out empty, and the artist has to fill it. It's not going to fill itself.

Also, it's important to note that for something to be considered art, it needs to be open to interpretation. As such, drawing a penguin on the screen doesn't really constitute anything artistic (not going into abstract art or photorealism or andy warhol here). If that penguin is meant to represent something that it currently is not (ie: it is not JUST a drawing of a penguin), then you've got a potential work of art, especially if it speaks to the basic human condition.

Also, there's a certain nebulous quality to art that makes it seem less permanent than, say, Michelangelo's David. Like, change one view matrix here and substitute a bitmap there and VOILA! Totally new picture. It's hard to rally behind an artistic genre that has mutability as a built-in feature. To be honest, 3d graphics have gotten to the point that it's relatively easy to make something that's on the surface far more impressive than something an artist in another genre would have to slave over to achieve. Consider how easy it would be for a painter to add extra mountains to a landscape, whereas a computer artist might only have to change their for loop, or copy and paste something.

Also, because computers seldom ARE used for art, people tend to dismiss the notion that they CAN be used for art. In much the same way that "Armageddon" drags down an entire genre into the sub-artistic, games such as "Tomb Raider" make you forget about gems like "Myst", which could probably be considered a work of art in its own right (remember, just because you don't like it doesn't mean it isn't art ;).

Of Course it is (2)

datalas (230897) | more than 13 years ago | (#128724)

Art is in the eye of the beholder... I take great pleasure in pretty pictures, whether they be gif, png or painted by a famous dead guy. I see no difference to be honest with you.

Anyone who says "it's on a computer it's not art" is basically, not worth listening to (IMHO)

on a side note, is there any site where we can take a nosey (look) at any of your pictures? I'd be interested in seeing them.


what is art? (1)

room101 (236520) | more than 13 years ago | (#128730)

I'm not really an artsy guy, and I claim no expertiese in art (or spelling), but the question of "what is art" seems absurd to me in this time in history. Many folks said that pictures of Campel's soup cans wern't art, but others disagreed.

I have never really made up my mind, but if a pile of elephant dung can be art, why not fancy graphics algorithms?

Ask your profs to say why your stuff isn't art, but Andy Warhol's is. (I'm not saying it isn't, mind you)

Allan Holdsworth Example (1)

Max Entropy (239730) | more than 13 years ago | (#128735)

In an early '90s issue of Guitar World, guitar synth enthusiast Allan Holdsworth was asked to react to his detractors who decried his use of the SynthAxe, a guitar-like MIDI controller. These detractors claimed that it robbed his music of soul.

His answer was simple and elegant: "Everything man-made is the product of technology, even a string stretched across a hole."

People who similarly deride art that uses Photoshop, The GIMP, or whatever should take this to heart. The airbrush, the paintbrush, and even the simple reed used to inscribe characters in the wet clay of cuneiform tablets could be considered "technology."

Computer graphics as fine art (1)

BigLinuxGuy (241110) | more than 13 years ago | (#128737)

(donning flamesuit)

I'd ask Bill Gates if *he* considers computer graphics eligible as a category of art. :-)

IMNSHO, what you're experiencing is an offshoot of neo-Luddism, where the art snobs are desperately trying to cling to whatever control they can over what is defined as art. It took a long time for lithographs to be acknowledged as art because they could be easily reproduced. I think computer graphics fall into the same category.

IMHO, one man's objet d'art is another man's junkpile. I liken art to the Supreme Court's ruling on pornography, i.e., I can't define art but I know it when I see it. (I also recognize merde when I see it...)

I've always heard that art should speak to you. Unfortunately, bad art speaks to me as much as good art does, just in a somewhat different fashion.

Does this help or should I ramble on?

CG and fine art (1)

NoseBag (243097) | more than 13 years ago | (#128739)

"jpellino" hit it on the nose, but he left out other examples of academic narrow-mindedness, such as the Bohr theory of the atom and the theory of plate tectonics. Both were rejected by the long-hairs until a generation had died. And they were SCIENCE - which depends far less on "interpretation" and opinion than art. I'm afraid you are up against human nature and will have to tough it out until about 2020 or 2030 AD. Pity. I kinda like some of the CG stuff, such as Scott Moore's very interesting work.

Re:Art is bunk. (1)

NoseBag (243097) | more than 13 years ago | (#128740)

So....we are all involved in bunk every day of our lives? I KNEW IT!

What's Art? (1)

barfy (256323) | more than 13 years ago | (#128753)

IANAAC... However, I do have opinions... "Art" should present an asthetic that is suprising to the viewers expectation of the medium. "Art" should evoke a response beyond the mere representation of the subject. "Art" should reflect an originality and skill beyond what current "craftsmen" of the medium are doing. That said, "ART" is rarely accepted as "ART" right away, because the skill of the artist, the message of the artist, or the meaning of the artist is not understood. ART that is even "accepted" contemporarily is often controversial and scorned mearly for being contemporary. The only defense to that controversy is an unwavering exploration of the medium and the message by the artist. Whether it gets recognized, ever, is an intellectual exercise of the Critic, Historian, Public, and Scholar. That said, contemporary art, is often a matter of acceptance that SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE, felt that it was art. And that SOMEBODY has the financial wherewithal to set the price of the ART, and are well known enough to determine the acceptance of the ART. Often times this is done by selling a piece to a person that has the ability to control purchases in large private or public collections, and is often just a game of greed and ego, and little to do with "ART"

Re:It's not about the tools... (1)

Kinchie (260645) | more than 13 years ago | (#128755)

Anyone arguing that comic books could be art back in the 1940s wouldn't have had much to support themselves on. But now there is a (small) number of artists producing really great things with that medium, check out the work of Chris Ware and Dan Clowes to see what I'm talking about

Hmmm...perhaps, but then again I think both Scott McCloud and Will Eisner (Eisner in particular) would quite vehemently disagree. Certainly early German woodblock "graphic novels" (not the proper term) were considered art by people like say Goethe.

Of course I agree with your asessment of Ware and Clowes...

Re:of course it's art (1)

Kinchie (260645) | more than 13 years ago | (#128756)

Maybe crosses dipped in piss are popular this year; next year they're passe; the year before they weren't art.

No, not passe, pisse.

Re:Nudies? (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#128764)

You could possibly get an NEA grant...

Dancin Santa

Re:of course not (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#128765)

If you create an algorithm that generated dynamic images (visualizations, for example), you wouldn't consider the images art? Why not? Pollock created art by waving a paint brush over a canvas. The forms that arose from his technique are considered art. What is the difference?

Dancin Santa

Try doing something unique (2)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 13 years ago | (#128779)

I agree with all the posts about how computer art will naturally not be considered fine art at first; the establishment always rejects the new.

What I suggest is that you try to create things that cannot be created in any other medium. If you create flat pictures that can be printed on an Epson color printer then you're using the wrong medium. If you're creating 3D images that can only exist in a computer, and a printout is equivalent to a photograph of a statue (a representation, but not the same as viewing the actual item), then you're on the right track.

If you create something dynamic that is a different experience for everyone who "views" it (via interaction with a mouse or via a complex algorithym based upon a webcam image of the viewer or whatever, as long as it somehow changes with each viewer) then you're going to start impressing people.

Also, consider a sculpture where a computer and monitor and software are all components of a larger work. "Foot in the door." Feel free to reject this out of principle :-)

I think you'll also have a stronger case if you write the software yourself, and the software is unique to each work, as opposed to using a commercial off-the-shelf drawing package to create a picture on a computer. Sort of the difference between mixing your own paint and paint-by-numbers. The software, while unique, could be based upon shared libraries with code re-use; just because each work is unique doesn't mean you have to start from scratch each time. Even Picasso bought commercial, off-the-shelf paints, but he then mixed and used them himself. It's still a Picasso, even if he worked in Sherman Williams house paint on a rusty saw blade! Your work is still your work, even if you use MS Paint on an IBM PS/2.

RISD says it is... (1)

zamboni1138 (308944) | more than 13 years ago | (#128786)

My friend was just released from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a Bof Fine Arts in Graphics Design. So somebody thinks Flash is a fine art... Not me.. :-)

Art vs Technology (1)

RoninAdmin (322783) | more than 13 years ago | (#128799)

Just remember pigment mixing, stone carving, glazing, weaving, ad nauseum, were all "high tech" at one point. Does it matter, since we are tool users anyway, what tools we use? Is acrylic paint art? Or should we all use egg based tempra? If you don't mine the cobalt, is it cheating?

Of course (1)

moronga (323123) | more than 13 years ago | (#128801)

The art critics there claimed that computer-generated art was not a 'fine art' but more of a graphic design, regardless of the quality of the work.

As a graphic designer, I'm offended by this remark.

Seriously though, I don't see how the medium should be any consideration in whether or not something is art. Any sort of self-expression is art, IMO. While it may be a valid criticism that computers and the net have made it easier for random morons to create and distribute bad art, I can't imagine how any reasonable person can argue that something created on a computer isn't art at all.

The graphic design remark is just asinine. Design is about problem solving. Art is about self-expression. The distinction has nothing to do with quality, and everything to do with purpose.

Most new media go through this. It took a while for photography to be accepted as fine art. And today, very few people would argue that point. Computer art should have an easier time getting acceptance, given that it doesn't steal your soul they way photography does.

Coincidentally, there's an article on CNN today [] about digital vs cel animation. They quote Jules Engel, who worked on Bambi and Fantasia, and he seems to look down on computer animation. He seems to imply that computer animators can't draw, which is ridiculous, and even if it was true, he doesn't seem to recognize CG as a medium onto itself. ("Sure, McGwire can hit, but he sucks on clay courts." WTF?)

Ok, I've rambled enough.

Easy beatiful results (1)

HSheldon (410768) | more than 13 years ago | (#128809)

If you ask people what do they think about the making of a certain computer application they will probably say that they thing you "told" the computer what to do and it went ahead and did it.

Same goes with computer graphics. They think you say "get me a field with such and such things in it" and it does. And while in some cases that's true it certainly isn' t the general truth.

Re:of course! (1)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 13 years ago | (#128810)

Programming is a practical art, like weaving, smithing or potting, where the artistry arises from graceful and elegant execution of function. When you write programs that aren't meant to be used, but rather admired aesthetically, then it would be fine art, as the above sometimes are as well.

of course! (1)

fatum6 (413538) | more than 13 years ago | (#128815)

What about the fine art of proggraming? Maybe art or "fine arts" are in the eye of the beholder more than anything.

A simple definition (1)

iamklerck (445579) | more than 13 years ago | (#128821)

This is a pretty subjective question, so I've got a pretty subjective answer.

I've always had a pretty simple on what "art" really is. If someone at all enjoys it or thinks it's nice/beautiful, then it's art. I don't think there should ever be one person or a group of people to define whether or not something is really art. If you think it's art, then that's good enough: it's art.

It should qualify as art (1)

4mn0t1337 (446316) | more than 13 years ago | (#128823)

Disclaimer: Defining art is about as easy as nailing Jell-o to a wall. That said...

Art = The creative expression of an idividual's world view or sense of life.

I think most computer-generated art would fall under this definition. Graphic Design probably wouldn't.

Aside from the issue that graphic design is less creative and more restrictive (no flames, please -- graphic designers work with a common body of elements to produce output, whereas computer-generated art starts with a "clean canvas") there is more of a sense of graphic design being restricted to an application of technical skills as opposed to purely creative skills. [Although they both have creative *and* technical skills to some degree, each one favors a different side of the fence.]

Add to that the notion that art in general is about the expression of the artist's sense of life while the graphic design is about communicating the message of,... well, what ever is being designed for, be it an ad for soap or a corp. ID.

*However* people seem to think that putting up several thousand umbrellas [] on two coasts = art and I don't think your "art critics" are going to advance the argument that Christo isn't an artist. (They would be drummed right out of the guild.)


Definition of fine arts... (1)

mrericn (446447) | more than 13 years ago | (#128826)

Generally when I run into people concerned with the "fine" arts, they are referring to an artform they believe has no room for growth or development. Stick to your ideas and maybe in a hundred years some unambitious dolt will call your work "fine" too.

That's an easy one. (2)

blang (450736) | more than 13 years ago | (#128830)

The computer is your tool. You're the artist.

The only problem is when the lines cross, and the computer is the artist, and you're just someone pushing the buttons. But even in a case like that, it still can be art.

Art is a very subjective thing. When people try to discuss what art is, they can never agree what qualifies. SOme people will disagree because they don't like a particular kind of art, it's ugly, or it didn't seem to require much skill. My definition is: "If the artist says it is art, it's art". Kurt Vonnegut had a somewhat stricter definition in one of his books, but I can't remember what it was, but it had something to do with putting your ass on the line.

yea, it's art alright (1)

theblackdeer (453464) | more than 13 years ago | (#128834)

it's just going to take time before people stop thinking of computers as one of two things (either BUSINESS USE or PLAY THING). take the new album art by radiohead [] , for example. it's the same guy who did both Kid A and Amnesiac, and it's unquestionably digital. it's also a very strong example of artwork, creative expression, and form.

by the way, if you're in a conversation with an art snob, bring up the tasty little bit about "form defines content". this includes the media used. talk more about the form of the work, and less about the computer part of it. it's art first, media second, isn't it?

They don't understand what computer art is. (1)

moncyb (456490) | more than 13 years ago | (#128838)

I think the main reason they don't accept it is because they don't understand how computer art is made. They probably think most of it is just dots/lines/circles, sections of images taken from screencaps of a TV show, cutting and pasting photos, etc.

Computer art will most likely be more accepted when more artists start using it, and the critics know enough to tell if something was "painted" or just slapped together by Joe HomeUser.

Unfortunately, yes (1)

OR_BraveHeart (456922) | more than 13 years ago | (#128841)

All those art people are afraid that more people will become artists making masterpieces with the help of their computer. I agree with you, it is not any easier to create artwork in Photoshop than on paper.

Re:Forget the critics. (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 13 years ago | (#128844)

Ray tracing two spheres over a checkered plane is probably not art, but not on account of being computer rendered, but on account of the tiny amount of actual creative input. It's the computer graphic equivalent of throwing a can of paint at the canvas, or painting a few geometric figures; the idea is small, and its translation into the final work is mechanical or random.

And yet, these are presumably the same art critics who think a blue rectangle is a masterpiece, or who give top awards to people who exhibit beds covered in condoms...

Art Mimicing (sp?) Human Nature (2)

Eric Dizkord (458194) | more than 13 years ago | (#128845)

In very few words: Should Computer Graphics Be Considered a Fine Art?
In more words:

This is the same argument people have about online journalism being a valid form of media. "You can't trust everything you read on the net" we hear. No. But you can't trust everything you read in the paper-media either.

The same goes for computer graphics. Sure, you don't spend years mastering the fine art of blending lighting using different paints and all that. Instead you may have to go to school for a few years to learn how to get that same effect by mastering how pixels work together. You're simply using a different canvas, but you may put as much time and effort (or more) into any computerized art than you will with sculpting or painting or whatever other things may be considered fine arts.

As a society we're migrating to technology, as readers of slashdot will easily vouch for. Why should we be stuck in a different age of art then? As pictoral art and poetry start to mesh, are we going to deny the genius there because it's not the same as something Van Gogh would have done? It makes no sense to deny that computerized art is a fine art simply because it's new and not established.

The medium has so much value to artists, if only those who are stuck in previous centuries would give it a chance. An artist will still work endlessly to get the desired look from something s/he creates. They'll still labor to make it perfect.
Frag the critics.
That's Beautiful.
-Eric Dizkord

An attempt to anaylize this, higly oppionated. (1)

GreyOrange (458961) | more than 13 years ago | (#128846)

I think its intersting, since I believe there are two aspects to the production of art and since they can be seperated by computers that some(maybe all but a few) art critics would consider it to be design.
1.) The idea that is dereived from inspiration, or a fellow person that is only in your mind, or a week sketch. Its the blue print. It has not been adequalitly depicted to be called anything. But it still required imanganation somewhere to come up with it.
2) The production of the art it self. Critics might not consider this stage art if you don't use your hands, since using your hands is could be considered an art in its self. Are they saying since you can tell a computer to draw a circle of some diamater, and then since you manipulated that more, its not art? I beleive thats exactly it.
Now, the only thing I would like to be seen done is that slowly and steadily as more and more of supposidlly graphics design people increase, that a new standard will be created by the critics themselves. Or if they won't do it, there will hopefully be enough people intersted in it that a whole new group will start up and create the standard themselves. As long as it has awe and can be admired, more and more people will be drawn to it and their is where the critics will come from.


Re:It's not about the tools... (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 13 years ago | (#128852)

Computer graphics are not Art. Where are the feces? Alternatively, rhino semen may appear, or the menstrual blood of a 13-year-old Guatemalan girl. But no feces? It definitely fails the Art test.

What is Art? (1)

abitkin (462096) | more than 13 years ago | (#128853)

Once again, we are challenged with the defining what art is. Not all that long ago, Photography wasn't considered art; and as a result of trying to get it defined as art, the photographers tried to make their photos look more like paintings. Do I see this happening to Digital Photos and Digital Art? The quick answer is no. I think we all can see that it does take skill to pack a great picture into that 32x32 grid for an icon. It takes just as much skill and insight as a photograph, just you get an undo button.

(Apple thinks different, creates the iMac)
Yahoo Finance--
Company: Apple

Art vs. Reality and Everything Else (1)

zangdesign (462534) | more than 13 years ago | (#128855)

Computer art will not be regarded as such until several generations have passed and the field is not so new. Traditional artists have a hard time with computer art because the field is not yet codified - there are no breakdowns of style and influence and no clear terms by which to dissect the material at hand. The same applies in just about every field of endeavor. Literature was not "literature" until somebody sat down and made a serious study of existing writings and began to codify the rules of the medium. That is not to say that these rules always have been followed (most great artists make new rules by breaking old ones). It's a young field, so don't get discouraged, but don't expect any reward in this lifetime either. Don't get too upset about being called a Graphic Designer or Graphic Artist, either. Usually, that means you get paid for your work as opposed to someone who just does art on a computer for it's own sake. At least in that manner, you won't starve.

cgi art displays (1)

helvick1 (462536) | more than 13 years ago | (#128856)

When I was traveling through Australia last summer I ran across a display of very impressive computer rendered art in Brisbane. Art is a reflection of society; computers are now a major part of that society. I just have to say don't be discouraged by what the credits say. Remember, it took a long time for that past two major changes in visual art to be excepted as such

I'm with ya (1)

laura44 (462538) | more than 13 years ago | (#128857)

Thanks for bringing up a subject which I struggle with constantly. I'm getting a cs degree concurrently with a fine arts degree, so I feel ya. It's great to see so many people out there supporting technological art. Check out: for some artists who are pushing the envelope.
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