What is Computer Generated Art?

Are you a photographer? Are you an illustrator? Are you a painter? Are you or did you follow one of these professions before starting to use the computer?

I have met many people over the internet through my articles and tutorials. Many are "old timers" like me who started to work before computers were easily available. I have observed that most "old timers" bring their former artistic profession or hobby into his art work. I have noticed that artists who work mainly in the 2 dimension realm, use either Painter or Photoshop as their primary program. A number have added Deep Paint as a bridge since it can be used as a Photoshop plugin.

I was reading an article in a 3D magazine the other day that discussed the present state of 3D art. This article got me thinking that too many people use the computer to create technical masterpieces that say nothing. Yes, I know this statement will annoy people, but all one has to do is thumb through a graphic magazine and count the number of clocks ticking in someone's brain. No, I do not appreciate some of the art in the Guggenheim or Museum of Modern Art in New York City where I grew up. A "white on white" canvas still says to me white.

If one looks at Ansel Adams, one will see an artist who created beautiful and balanced photographs that are wonderful to look at. They don't need titles. If one looks at William Eugene Smith's work they will also see photographs that don't need titles for his photojournalistic pictures tell their own stories. While I believe that Ansel Adam's pictures are technically perfect, the technique does not over shadow the beauty of the work.

I met someone at a meeting a few months ago who was demonstrating airbrushing; he asked if any body in the audience was an artist. When I said I was he asked me what medium. When I said the computer, he replied "I only use it for illustrations." SNEER, SNEER, SNEER. I sort of understand his perspective because too many magazines show only "techno-art"

Art generated on a computer is as individual as is the artist. Or at least should be. However, I see the same types of pictures reproduced time and again. Technically these pictures are usually good. In my way of thinking, the computer should be the same type of tool as a brush or a sculpturing chisel. The artist is who determines the work, not the computer. If one says one sculpts with a chisel, one does not expect any certain type of work. It could be abstract, or realistic. It could be a representation of an animate or inanimate object. But when someone mentions that they are a 2D or 3D artist who works on the computer, definite stereotypes come to mind.

Getting back to my first question. What background did you bring to the computer? Soon this question might not have meaning because children are developing computer skills without the need, knowledge, or desire to experience other artistic media. Schools in some parts of the country do not have art classes. When they do, too many are of the "paint-by-number type."

Computer generated art, be it 2D or 3D, is still in its infancy. I think the directions it will take are basically up to all of us.

©Paula Sanders 2002
from my Renderosity column February 18, 2002