"Aesthetics of Computer Graphics"
(Unpresented Conference Paper 1987)
term Computer Art has been bandied
around in a vague fashion for many years
at Computer Graphic gatherings without
any examination of the myriad of hard
and tantalizing questions surrounding
- Where is Computer Art heading ?
- Can anybody make great Art with the aid of a computer ?
- Is the Computer the ultimate artistic medium ?
And what form should the art take ?
- Will artificial Intelligence lead to Robot Artist ?
- Is there any distinct future for Computer Graphics in Fine Art ?
we get carried away, at Ausgraph86,
Sally Pryor, raised the question,
'What is Computer Art?' This paper
attempts to answer these many
questions by examination of the
conceptual and aesthetic heritage and
understanding of the Fine Arts, to
lay some foundation for future
presentations on the Computer Art
debate. (A bibliography referencing
worthwhile text is included).
- Is a slick slide or even the program that generated it Computer Art?
first examine some of the current views
then dig deeper with some powerful
conceptual tools provided by art history
2.# WHAT A LOCAL SAYS.
computer press is fairly silent on the
subject, excepting the occasional gem.
John Bird's (Sally Pryor's former
lecturer) Ausgraph84 paper (1) provides
some brilliant insights to the teaching
of Computer Animation which apply just
as well to the broader question of
computer Art. He says;-
conceptual difficulties:EVERY GRAPHIC
MARK............IS NOT "ART"
EVERYTHING THAT MOVES.........IS NOT
"ANIMATION" Open any computer
magazine and you discover doting
parental pride.....that the computer
industry has created a baby that
can.......DRAW! and.....MOVE !!!!! Let's
not mistake "potentiality" for
"actuality". This baby may be
smart but it is no Rembrandt or Walt
this point in time, as a graphic arts
and animation tool computing technology
is about as appropriate as using a
crayon mounted on the blade of a
bulldozer, to sign your cheques.
the images, which frequently border on
the illegible, are graphically crude
imitations of previous visual media.
Conceptually they are counterfeit, like
the early electronic musical instruments
which tried to emulate their acoustic
like hanging the draftsman's blueprints
in a gallery as works of Art. The
architect's, draftsman's or engineer's
drawings are merely an intermediate
phase in the realisation of the final
production of a building, a circuit, or
for the visual arts, the
"drawings" are not the
means-to-an-end, but the end itself.'
we have some sort of motivation and
context to tackle the question 'What is
Computer Art?' Let's break it down and
examine 'What is ART ?' first.
Art as defined by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is,
ART;... THE APPLICATION
OF SKILL TO THE SUBJECT OF TASTE: SKILL
APPLIED TO THE ARTS OF IMITATION AND
DESIGN, THE CULTIVATION OF THESE
PRINCIPLES, PRACTICE AND RESULTS. *
ANYTHING WHERE SKILL MAY BE ATTAINED
AN OCCUPATION IN WHICH SKILL IS EMPLOYED
TO GRATIFY TASTE OR PRODUCE WHAT IS
BEAUTIFUL; AN ACQUIRED FACULTY OF ANY
KIND; A KNACK ! (1637)
definition is too broad for our concern,
another way is to draw on the work of
Douglas Davis (2) and Ernst Fisher (3),
to define Art as being a combination of
three concerns or attributes.
MESSAGE + MEDIUM + MAGIC = ART !
An unequal balance of these primary concerns is something else, but not ART.
MAGIC + MESSAGE = Advertising &/or Propaganda
MAGIC + MEDIUM = Design &/or Decoration.
MEDIUM + MESSAGE = Craft
is obvious from the above that a
combination of disciplines eg. the craft
of woodblock printing and the message of
Historical reporting can combine to
create works of Art, as in Traditional
Japanese Woodcuts .
4#. MAGIC +.
definitions reveal more on closer
examination. Starting with Magic of
which Douglas Davis says;-
" 'Fischer traces the origins of art back to magic:
the earliest amulets, charms, and cave paintings were means of
controlling nature. Art, in Fischer's eyes, is therefore a tool an
instrument of power like any other, corrupted into its present
decorative commodity status by the onset of capitalism.'
Ernst Fischer makes a great insight when he states :-
'We are inclined to take an astonishing phenomenon too much for
granted. And it is certainly astonishing; countless millions read
books, listen to music, watch the theatre, go to the cinema. Why?
To say that they seek distraction, relaxation, entertainment is to
beg the question. Why is it distracting, relaxing ,entertaining to
sink oneself in someone else's life and problems, to identify oneself
with a painting or with a piece of music or with the characters in a
novel, play or film? Why do we respond to such "unreality" as
though it were reality intensified? What strange mysterious
entertainment is this?' "
was ancient man's protection from, and
way of dealing with, his outside
environment and its hostile elements. It
was a mixture of religion, philosophy,
art & science.
power to deal with one's environment, in
these days of specialization, has been
partitioned off in various disciplines
leaving Fine Art with the role of
relating man to his environment in a
non-verbal a-rational manner; philosophy
doing the same task in a rational &
verbal way. It is important to note here
that this 'magic', 'the extra
something', 'the power to deal with ones
environment', is not something that can
be distilled in a verbal description. If
what you are analysing in a work can be
verbalized it is the message, not the
magic of the work.
5.# MESSAGE +.
is what is communicated. All true art
communicates something, whether that be
a great philosophical idea, or something
as simple as 'take a look at this!'.
Neither of these statements can be
regarded as more important than the
other, they both have important places
in the total scheme of things.
you have something which is only
decorative or illustrative it lacks the
magic to make it art. Photography
released painting from the trap of just
recording and illustrating the world and
its events, photographers sadly fall in
the same trap many times. The easiest
way to separate illustration from fine
art is to ask, 'What is the designer's
intent, their major consideration in the
work?' If the answer is to EXPLAIN
something (how, why, what or where)
about something the work is usually
illustrative. If, however, the answer is
to make you FEEL something, you are
looking at art, propaganda, or kitsch.
Thus when you come to something like
James Blinn's work of 'The Voyager
Flypast' film done at the N.A.S.A
Jet-propulsion Laboratory you can say
that the total work is not art, as it's
primary consideration is simulation and
communication. However when a still or a
specific sequence is edited out of the
total work, for reasons of its' beauty,
or emotive impact, that selected piece
may be a work of Art.
6.# MEDIUM HOW.
our trilogy, Magic, Message & Medium
we still have to deal with MEDIUM, this
breaks down further into, Technical
Aspects, Theoretical Aspects (Design
constructs ect.) and
ASPECTS are the nitty gritty concerns
when creating an artwork. Questions
like, 'Why doesn't this paint stick?',
'Why does this subroutine hang the
job?', 'Why does this colour look redder
in the print, than on the monitor?' A
work of art should be the highest
quality possible within the
Ethical/Philosophical paradigm of the
medium and situation that the creator is
of the major stumbling blocks in
Computer Art is, as the technical
problems are often so immense to obtain
a particular result, the temptation is
to put up any pretty picture that
results as Computer Art. Irrespective of
how technically sophisticated a picture
is, it doesn't at some point of
polishing became Art. It is
disappointing to note that paradoxically
as the interfaces have become more
accessible and the software has become
more flash, the artistic value of
so-called pieces of computer art have
receded at a horrifying rate. This
deterioration in quality has been
signified by a famine of curatorial
interest in the machination of
programmers playing artist. There have
not been any major shows (of Computer
Art) since the late 60's high tide mark
of: (See 4 & 5 )
- "Cybernetic Serendipity"(1968) Inst. of Contemporary Art in London;
- "Information"(1970) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York;
- "Software"(1970) at the Jewish Museum in New York.
7.# MEDIUM WHAT.
ASPECTS, are the first aesthetic
considerations by which any work of art
is judged. This area is too broad to be
dealt with adequately here. Good texts
on the subject are sighted in the
bibliography (6-10). Suffice to say we
are talking about,
ELEMENTS OF DESIGN
(things you work with)
- Direction [Planes]
- Shape [Mass]
- Picture Plan & Focal Point
- Compositional Models
- Spatial Queues
- Viewpoint/Point of View
- Tonal Key Theory
- Colour Theory
- Content/Subject Matter
- Dynamic Time Structure}
PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN
(the way you work them)
- Rhythm/Repetition!! Alternation
- Relationship/Gradation !! Radiation
[Tension !! Compression]
- Harmony [Proportion]
- Contrast/Opposition, Conflict
- Balance/Mass!! Density
- Portrait Format
- Figure/Ground Relationship
- Landscape Format
- Open & Closed Composition
- Georgian Window
- Classical/Baroque Renditions
number of computer graphics that put the
focal point of the image in the center
of the field of view, defies
imagination. How can people get access
to things like CRAYS who have an
understanding of composition less than
is expected in Junior High School !
Unless someone attempting computer art
can get these Theoretical aspects right
they might as well give up now, and try
something else, as it gets harder.
8.# MEDIUM WHY.
Aspects, are the second major set of
aesthetic considerations of any work of
It covers such questions as ;-
- Truth TO the medium !
- Honesty TO the medium !
- Appropriateness OF the medium !
- Honesty OF the medium !
- Historical tradition & context of the medium !
- Language & syntax of the medium !
* TRUTH TO THE MEDIUM
about exploiting the innate qualities of
the medium, and bringing out the
medium's full potential for expression.
Computer- graphics provides the best
example of this;-
some 3D modelling process is used for
the production of a still , yet the
final 2D rendition gives no clue to the
use of 3D data, the medium potential has
been drastically undersold in the work.
There is really no point in the
technical feat (see Honesty to the
Medium below ). One way out of the above
dilemma of 3D work on a 2D surface,
would be a series showing different
lighting &/or views of the object
highlighting its 3 dimensionality,
alternatively a series featuring its
process of construction.
* HONESTY TO THE MEDIUM
is the corollary of Truth to the Medium
(this closeness in concept often leads
to a muddying of the distinction in
conversation). It is about not being
clever & smart just for the sake of
being clever and smart. A very skilful
craftsman can paint in oils to make it
appear that the painting was done in
watercolours, overcoming some immense
technical problems of pigment to medium
ratios and surface quality, but the
technical feat adds nothing to the Art
of the work. If anything the extra
effort required in working against the
medium's innate qualities distracts the
artist from other considerations of
Magic, Message & Medium in the work.
* APPROPRIATENESS OF THE MEDIUM
This closely couples with the
concept of honesty to the Medium. It is
about choosing the most suitable medium
for the work at hand. You would not
immortalise a local hero for future
generations by setting up a statue in
the middle of an Australian town in
summer made out of snow? That example
sounds a bit silly, but it is only a
short step to the stupidity of trying to
do drawings on a computer-paint- system
to look like they have been done
freehand with pen & ink, scratch
board or pencil.
* HONESTY OF THE MEDIUM
Brings us to the work of Marshall McLuhan (11)
"The medium is the message."
subject is too complex to be dealt with
here. Suffice to say, it is about how a
medium like photography can be organised
by context to convey a deliberate lie,
or to twist the viewer's reading and
response to an image. Post-Modernism has
been a great asset here with the
development of semiotics. See the
bibliography (12,13) for sources of
examples and theory.
* HISTORICAL TRADITION & CONTEXT : LANGUAGE & SYNTAX OF THE MEDIUM
With your now more finely tuned
insight you have probably guessed this
is a large messy area, that should be
left till later, so we can get back to
our slick slide question.
9.# THE SLICK SLIDE ?
'Is a slick slide or even the program that generated it Computer Art ?'
now you will have realised from the
above definitions that the vast majority
of slick-slides are not Art. Yes they
may be very good Business Graphics,
Advertising Promos, T.V. Graphics or
even Art-like experiments with a new
medium, but experiments with a new
medium are not automatically Art. Most
slick-slides come off PAINTBOX systems
so what of them? Paint-systems offer
undeniable advantages in speed and
utility in situations like T.V. studios,
but their ease of use does not
necessarily make them ideal tools for
the production of Art works. Going back
to 'Appropriateness of the Medium' the
artist and the viewer must ask
themselves, 'Could this image have been
done more successfully with a more
traditional medium ? oils ? water
colours? If the answer is Yes, the
paintbox image has failed the test. You
may think that a little tough but lets
us look at it another way. A very
important ingredient in the creative
process is the feedback the material
gives the artist during the development
of the work. The main reason why an
artist style will vary across different
mediums is that the artist when using a
given medium will explore it's FULLEST
POSSIBILITIES TO EXPRESS their artistic
intent in producing that work. Now if
this 'Exploration of the full set of
possibilities' is undertaken when using
a paintbox, the result can not look like
an oil or watercolour, because both
these styles of representation along
with sampling, zooms, pattern
generation, repeats will come into play
in the one work, resulting in a work
that could not have been done more
successfully in another medium.
are another feature of most
paint-systems. This feature comes with a
couple of problems, beside the copyright
problem. (Which is far from
satisfactory. Most artist receive little
or no protection for the majority of
their work, as the second-hand user has
only to change over 15% to legally rip
it off. Not to mention zero protection
for the concept, a situation that would
be intolerable in software or music
copyrights). The use of frame-grabs to
incorporate existing images into a new
image opens a can of aesthetic worms;-
Origin, Code, Pastiche, Quotation,
Authenticity, Plagiarism, Authorship,
Originality. These issues are the crux
of the current heated debated in the Art
world, and there would be no better
place to start than the catalogue for
'The Sixth Biennial of Sydney 1986'.
In this work Rosalind Krass (14) touches the heart of the matter.
"............. we can see that modernism and the avant garde are
functions of what we could call the discourse of originality, and that
discourse serves much wider interests - and is thus fuelled by more
diverse institutions- than the restricted circle of professional art-
making. The theme of originality, encompassing as it does the
notions of authenticity, originals, and origins, is the shared
discursive practice of the museum, the historian, and the maker of
art......the discourse of originality in which impressionism
participates represses and discredits the complementary discourse
of the copy. Both the avant garde and modernism depend on this
debate about the need for a 'unique
original object' has been seen in the
computer art world as a major deterrent
to the acceptance of Computer Art by the
Mainstream Art World. In the Post-
Modernist world to quote is now more
acceptable than it was, but you still
have a unique object. Conceptual and
Post-Object Art were ever in a hungry,
hand to mouth situation because of the
lack of a 'unique original object'.
Computer Art has similar problems;- Is
the artwork the image on the screen? or
the data on the disk? (sounds a bit like
a certain copyright case!), or even the
program that generated the data ? ?
10.# EVEN THE PROGRAMME ?
solve this question we need to look a
bit closer at the Art making process. To
help yet another definition of Art.
"Art is the footprints in
the snow, made by a bear on his early
morning walk. Zen is what the bear had
point of the quote is Art is a process,
making works of Art is something you do,
like writing computer programs. You can
within the appropriate conceptual
context have a computer program as part
of a work of Art, as important as the
colours in a painting. A score for a
symphony is a work of art? or does the
music have to be first performed ? I
have avoided looking at specific
examples so far because of all the other
issues that any given work will inject
for one to do justice in examining that
work. But a description (as opposed to
images will allow us to focus on the
issue at hand.
by the Architecture Machine Group from
M.I.T. show us such use of a program
particularly well. It consisted of a
large glass box opened at the top. In
the box was a colony of gerbils (a small
rodent) who were making their homes out
of little metal cubes, while above a
computer controlled grabclaw was
intently trying to stack those same
blocks in an orderly fashion. The
computer was unaware that it was
destroying the gerbils homes each time
it retrieved the next block, but it was
equally at a loss why it's neatly
stacked blocks walked away when the
mysterious gerbil whipped a block out to
repair it's home.
Cohen's work (5) uses a program AARON to
control a turtle that does line drawings
on a large sheets of paper on the floor.
The whole-piece i.e. Artist + Program +
Results is Art. But the resulting
drawings (which Cohen sells by the
foot.) are not automatically Art, but
depend on the judgement made on them
during any selection or editing process.
Cohen's work is often seen as the future
direction for Computer Art, what with
A.I. and expert-systems, is it possible
we may see Robot Artist ?
ROBOT ARTIST ? or FROM WHENCE CREATIVITY
answer this question, and the other one
of, 'Can anybody with the help of a
computer make great art ?', we have to
delve more deeply into creative process.
We need also examine the nature of
thinking in general as modelled to
varying degrees of success by Artificial
in the plastic arts there has been two
main streams, which are distinguished by
their approach to creative endeavour,
more than by stylistic considerations
and trends of the resulting work.
streams are CLASSICISM on one hand, and
ROMANTICISM and EXPRESSIONISM on the
other. The output of each can appear
quite contradictory to relate to same.
So a list of landmarks may help.
Helenistic (Greek) Art
Mannerism & Baroque
So what has this got to do with AI. My hypothesis is;-
"Given the materialisation of the most marvellous intelligent sane machine, only art
work of a classical tradition will ever be possible! Because Romanticism/Expressionism
is a result being human, the sort of creation that bubbles uncontrollably within the
deepest most parts of one being."
This requires the AI community to have solved how to make computers EXPERIENCE
hope, pain and love, let-alone creative longings and the muses' touch. The Classical
Robot Artist, and the ultimate do it yourself artmachine for Joe Average are a little
closer however. There have been some very interesting programs written; an expert
system that churns-out, a few more paintings in the style of Mondrian, or an E.S. that
does musical arrangements after the fashion of Bach.
But stylistic mimicking is not the same as creating. The human mind functions in the
area of feelings and intuitive knowledge during the creative process. The gap between
AI's rationalising methodology and mans' intuitive jumps is immense, as clearly
elucidated by Hubert & Stuart Dreyfus (15), in Technology Review.
" Digital computers, which are basically complicated structures
of simple on-off switches,...[A.Newell & H.Simon] saw that one could
use symbols to represent elementary facts about the world and
rules to represent relationships between the facts. Computers could
apply these rules and make logical inferences about the
facts...Newell and Simon believed that computers programmed with
such facts and rules could in principle, solve problems, recognize
patterns, understand stories, and indeed do anything that an
intelligent person could do.....
BUT! ..Experimental psychologist have shown that people
actually use images, not descriptions as computers do, to
understand and respond to some situations. Humans often think by
forming images and comparing them holistically. This process is quite
different from the logical, step-by-step operations that a
logic machine performs."
But when creating a new thing, where do the images come from, with which to think?
What is the source of inspiration understood as a mental process. Jacques Maritian (16)
describes two sides to the human intellect. One side,
"is fecundated by intelligible germs on which all the
formations of ideas depends. And it draws from them, and
produces within itself, through the most vital process, it's own
living fruits, its concepts and ideas."
He argues that this process may not always be deliberate, and that the germs
themselves are usually unrecognized.
"There can exist unconscious acts of thought and unconscious ideas.
"The other side according to Maritain is,
"the Illuminating Intellect, a spiritual sun ceaselessly
radiating, which activates everything in intelligence, and whose
light causes all our ideas to arise in us, and whose energy permeates
every operation of our mind. And this primal source of light cannot
be seen by us; it remains concealed in the unconscious of the
He argues that while we mostly know that we are thinking, we don't know how,
"..... before being formed and expressed in concepts and
judgements, intellectual knowledge is at first a beginning of insight,
still unformulated, a kind of many-eyed cloud which is born from
the impact of the Illuminating Intellect on the world of images, and
which is but a humble and trembling inchoation, yet invaluable,
tending toward and intelligible content to be grasped. "
To put it all more pointedly computers may be superb at rationalising, but stand little or
no chance of being able to imagine and create, particularly considering that most people
find it difficult to do same, let alone understand it !
So with all this promised potential in Computer Art. What ever happened to the
12.# The BABY THAT DIDN'T WALK AT BIRTH:
The main problem in leading any endeavour,
is that you may get your fingers badly burnt.
In DATAMATION Ken Sofer (5) observes
"......Conceptual artists were attracted to ... cybernetics, with its
focus on the process by which information is generated,
transmitted and assimilated. They began to apply a systems
approach to art. In their view, the exploration and rapid transfer
of information was of central. interest, and the art object itself had
become a kind of tomb for the creative spirit-a bit of congealed
culture to carry to the gallery, living room, or museum. According
to these artists, the handcrafted object served the dealer, collector,
and curator rather than the artists, art, or the public....'
'.....Where are the offspring of the more innovative art/technology
fusions featured in "Cybernetic Serendipity", "Information", and
"Software"? Why does it seem that artists have relegated the
computer to the role of an expensive electronic paintbrush? The
answers are complex. For one thing, the art/technology shows
received anything but universal critical acclaim. They were costly
to mount (approximately $125,000 for "Software"), required
engineers to set up and operate, and after all that, many pieces
never worked properly. According to Grace Glueck of the New York
Times,"Temporarily out of order' was the operative phrase... at
more, as one might expect, the idea of
uncollectable art never went over well
with dealers, collectors, and museum
curators. Conceptual artists, who
claimed that the elimination of the art
object also obviated the art critic,
didn't make many friends in that field
either. And not having anything to sell
is a hard way to make a living' (and
don't I know it!)
13.# BACKGROUND TO THE FUTURE ?
we tackle the future, it is best to
understand a little of the roots of
modern art in general and computer
graphics in particular. Painting in the
mid. 19 century, was primarily concerned
with the capture of reality and mood.
With the invention of photography ,
painting moved into modernism driven by
an ever advancing Avant-Garde. The
developments in film from then to now is
a casebook example of the evolutionary
process of a medium;-
At first film had no aesthetics of it's
own. It was a passive eye recording the
world, a window in time to some past
performance in a musical or stage-play.
It took some twenty years for film to
develop its' own unique aesthetic. When
video arrived it inherited the aesthetic
of the cinema image, which is contrary
to the more personal nature of the video
medium, it was not till the 60's that
video began to distil its' own more
What is MODERNISM? Irving Sandler (17) states
'................... Modernism can be defined narrowly, arbitrarily
limited to a single tendency proclaimed as mainstream and avant-
garde. .......... But modernism can also be viewed broadly as
unbounded, multiple, inclusive of every tendency that seems at all
"progressive" that is, different from what has been.'......'
'..... During the sixties, such purist tendencies as stained color-field
abstraction and Minimalism- which aimed to reduce art to that
which was intrinsic to its medium and to eliminate all that was not-
were announced by critics to be modernist, avant-garde, ....'
'..... Indeed, post-modernism more often than not should be called
post-Minimalism. Or perhaps Minimalism can be considered the
latest (possibly final) stage of modernism....'
'..... Frontiers may remain, but the artist who discover them cannot
be considered avant-garde since the impulse to press to the limits
has become established as a tradition.... 'Clement Greenberg adds (18)
"The avant-garde has ceased to exist, not only because so
many limits of art have been reached, but because there now exists a
large and growing public that no longer responds in anger
to the novel, and when not eager is a least permissive. Elitists may
question the motives of the mass audience for art and the quality of
its aesthetic experiences but not its sympathy"
Rackstraw Downes (19) who was one of the first to
apply the term post-modernism sums it up
"Modernism deteriorated into a kind of pictorial narcissism- it
became a painting capable only of admiring its own nature. Post-
Modernism has seized on these failings as its raison d'et re and
announced its existence by giving the act of painting something to do"
It is no coincidence that the demise of
painting was one of the main triggers
for post-modernism. For it can be argued
that the true explorers of artistic
endeavour let us call them the New
Guard, left painting as an exhausted
corps before the commencement of World
War II. They played with sculpture till
the 70's, but their main stream moves
from Futurism and Surrealism into the
rediscovered, revitalized mediums of
environments & happenings, and the
new mediums of Abstract Film and Video.
It is to this tradition of the New Guard
we must turn to find the natural
environment of Computer Art, for
Post-Modernism's central ideology , is
the rejection of PROGRESS in the arts or
anything else, and thus its
anti-technological ethos, its'
debasement of idealism and concepts of
value and worth. A gloomy future ?
14.# AND WHAT OF THE FUTURE ?
The future for computer graphic Arts must
lie within the mainstream of
international cultural life, if it is to
be anything more than a technological
freak show. NOW! more than anytime since
the computer appearance on earth the
aesthetic debate is ripe for Computer
Art's contribution. Nick Waterlow in the
Biennial Catalogue (20) gives this
context an urgency when he concludes.
' Post-modernism is the effort to go beyond modernism, in Nietzsche's
words, via "the trans-valuation of all values". It
represents eternal nomadicism. It is dependent of the past, the
appearance rather than the substance, which is ironically re-
created and by definition synthetically. Post-modernism can not
give birth to the new, can only reiterate the old because its values
are relative not absolute and it is dependent on the return of the
past; a chimera.
....The end of the second millenium offers the hope of breaching the
cyclical pattern of action/reaction that has characterised the
tyrannical notion of progress, epitomised by the god of science with
is ruthless materialism. The fall of Icarus. Our fin de siecle is of
extreme significance as actions of the previous century are
weighted additionally by thoughts of moving out of the 500 year
span of the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment, the Industrial
Revolution, the two Great Wars and the shadow of nuclear self-destruction.....
...It is vital that the language of the artist be re-connected with the
visionary dimensions of advanced science fist intuited by the
progenitors of nonobjective art......
.....Modernism separated us from the past; post-modernism re-asserts
the past only in form. Modernism was a kind of obsession, a form
fixated on itself and its succession of new creations; we are now
dazzled by post-modernism's linguistic acrobatics.
The new future can only exist through a reconciliation, through a
deep re-experiencing of the past. "La recherche dutermps perdu is
the vehicle for future liberation." '
15.# SO WHERE TO NOW?
We need to heed McLuhan's (11) warnings
'The future of the future is the past'
'We look at the present through a rearview mirror'.
Western Culture (read political & economic
power as well,) is waning in its'
present crisis, slipping beneath an
oriental cultural awakening and economic
There was at Ausgraph86 the need expressed for
a manifesto. The Futurist Manifestos
would be the best place to start,
meet their country's need for a sense
of identity in a time of crisis,
(Italy before World War 1).
are concerned with the beauty and
challenge of technology for society
and the Arts.
of their aims were never realised in
their day because their vision
outstripped the technological means
of the era.
They are Computer Art's Aesthetic Roots.
is 'A Deep re-experiencing of the
past' to 'be re-connected with the
visionary dimension of advanced
get involved. Reason enough the
cultural needs (which must be solved
to safeguard one's market
penetration), not mentioning the
money to be made by serious
investment in the arts for arts sake,
and because High Tech. Art has
historically proven itself as fine an
engine for technological development
(and much safer) than the Space or
Australia for historical aesthetic and
geopolitical reasons is the best place
(in the whole Western World) to make
such an investment , Now! So why are you
hanging Streeton's in your board rooms ?
16.# WHERE HAVE WE BEEN ?
Before concluding lets review our question and answer so far.
Q. What is Art?
A. ART = MESSAGE & MEDIUM & MAGIC.
Q. What is Computer Art? The Slick Slide or even the program ?
A. It depends on the intent of
the work, and the process by which the
creator asses his work.
Q. Is there any distinct future for Computer Graphics in Fine Art ?
A. No only in combination with traditional concerns, film, sculpture, photography etc.
Q. Will A.I. lead to a robot Artist?
A. Maybe yes, a big maybe! But classical imitators are more likely.
Q. Is the Computer the ultimate artistic medium?
A. No. The imagination is, everything else are poor imitations.
Q. Where is computer art heading?
A. Not very far, without any patronage.
Q. Can anybody make great art with the aid of a Computer ?
If you had an inexpensive
device, that allowed the easy capture,
storage, manipulation, rendition,
retrieval of creative ideas, one would
reckon you could make endless great
artworks. Wouldn't you? Such a device
has been around for nearly 100 years. It
is called a photographic camera. Run of
the mill snap-shots are not great Art,
because the ability to create great art
whether with a pencil or a computer, is
not a function of technology, but the
creativity and imagination of the mind
of the user of the technology.
1. 'COMPUTER GRAPHICS ANIMATION AT SWINBURNE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY'
J.E.Bird Ausgraph 84 Proceedings
2. 'ART & THE FUTURE' Douglas Davis
3. 'THE NECESSITY OF ART' Ernest Fisher Pelican
'ART AGAINST IDEOLOGY' Ernest Fisher Allen Lane Penguin
4. 'CYBERNETIC. SERENDIPITY, THE COMPUTER IN THE ARTS'
Studio International, Special Issue as catalogue for same
5. 'ART? OR NOT ART?' Ken Sofer Datamation October 1981
6. 'BASIC COURSE OF THE BAUHAUS' J.Etten
7. 'THE ART OF COLOUR AND DESIGN' 1951
Maitland Graves McGraw-Hill Book Co.,
8. 'POINT AND LINE TO PLAIN' Kandinsky Dover Press
9. 'BASIC DESIGN: THE DYNAMICS OF VISUAL FORM'
Maurice de Sausmarez. Studio vista
10. 'THE PAINTERS SECRET GEOMETRY' Harcourt,Brace & World N.Y.
11. 'UNDERSTANDING MEDIA' Marshall Mcluhan Routledge,Regan Paul. London .
12. 'THE NEW PHOTOGRAPHY' Frank Webster
13. 'THE ORDER OF THINGS' Michael Foucault TAVISTOCK Publications
14. 'THE ORIGINALITY OF THE AVANT GARDE: A POST-MODERN REPETITION'
Roslind Krass New York 1984
The Sixth Biennale of Sydney Catalogue.
15. 'WHY COMPUTERS MAY NEVER THINK LIKE PEOPLE' Technology Review
Hubert & Stuart Dreyfus Jan.1986
16. 'CREATIVE INTUITION IN ART AND POETRY'
17. 'MODERNISM, REVISIONISM, PLURALISM, AND POST-MODERNISM'
Irving Sandler Art Journal Fall/Winter 1980
'"INTRODUCTION ,"Critics Choice 1969-70,
Irving Sandler N.Y,New York State Council on the Arts, 1969.
18. 'ART:HOW ART WRITING EARNS ITS BAD NAME'
Clement Greenburg. Encounter 19.Dec.1962
'ART AND CULTURE' Clement Greenburg. Beacon Press.
19. 'POST-MODERNIST PAINTING'
Rackstraw Downes,Tracks, Fall 1976
20. 'ORIGINS ORIGINALITY + BEYOND'
Nick Waterlow quoting Herbert Marcuse.
The Sixth Biennale of Sydney 1986 Catalogue
*. 'PAVILLION by Experiments in Art and Technology'
Ed. Billy Kluver, Julie Martin & Barbara Rose
E.P.Dutton & Co., Inc. New York 1972.
"Aesthetics of Computer Graphics" copyright Shaun Gray (c) 1986