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Reflections now and then

What about Tomorow's Art?

Exerpts from a thread I began at an internet forum

Have we become too devoted to the present (and to our past) to objectively consider the future of art?


Colorscope: Digital fuzz

I am mostly into painting, and will restrict myself to that medium of expression. I think this age-old fight between abstract and realism, representaional versus non-representational, theory versus execution has become cliched. I do not find these words necessarily antonymic. Reality is nothing but perception, as we all know. The most austere colorfield must use real pigments. What came out of Mondriaan's brush, and what Bougereau painted were essentially intellectual assimilation of sensory perceptions. A 'realist' artist is not a preset security cam in a shopping mall. His mind tells him what to see(or not), and what makes him different from the photographer is his ability to express that filtered and assimilated perception with real paint on the canvas. The photographer uses a different set of skills. Some of us, who aspire to be artists, and who depend on a strict set of internally derived criteria to measure their progress to(or degress from) that title, will not be easily affected by external criticism. Pen pushers must do their job. They must work within the tyranny of 'isms' as scribing is essentially analytical, and must have a definite semantic infrastructure on which to arrange their critical bricks. But artists can be fuzzy, boundaries cease to exist in a wanton quest for creative expression, and perhaps its time to get ahead of this tyrannical regime of painting-within-set-boundaries.

Infact, with bytes and information superways ruling the conceivable future, musnt we take up, along with the brush, the new tools of creating experience? Technology exists, as of today to design perceptions. Forget cockpit simulations, those are too crude. what about perceiving the warmth of an 'Arles' sun, or a whiff from Monet's garden? Or walking through a Pollock splatter, where one can stop and touch a droplet of paint suspended in mid-air? Or actually be in that room with Dega's bathing nude! But these are only recreations from master works of the past, what about our own creations for the future? The possibilities are endless, and the learning curve to grasp such technology will only get easier with time. But should we at least begin to discuss the virtual future? May I humbly ask for your opinions? Below is a simplistic virtual image I created in a trial 3d program. How about designing the 'feel' of those ants running over bare skin?

On being challenged that "non-flat" imagery is not new...

I know that non-flat imagery has been around for as long as the Indus valley people were sculpting figurines(or even before that!), but my stress was on trying to extend our experience of 'art' to the other senses. I believe an esoteric fringe of the scientific community has already done that (moving things across oceans through virtual commands, fragrance at a selective mouse click, etc), what we need is to incorporate an artistic vision into that adventure.

Refuting that digital creations are mostly uninspiring...

About digital creations being uninspiring; I have heard that refrain often enough and am baffled. Is it because of difficulties involved in mastering such technology(plus cost of software)or because of perceived limitations of expression? The latter cannot be true, since you say it has endless possibilities. I believe art is essentially about communication - with self or community or both. Why should i paint stick figures of beast or men on cave walls? Why would i go to the extent of mixing bone ash, red and yellow earth and animal fat (which I must have extracted from animals killed with rudimentary stone tools), work up a thick gooey paste and painstakingly stain the walls of my cave? Why did we need to show off? were we actually showing off? Or recording? Or expressing - desire, fear, respect? Or simply disseminating information visually? Or establishing our ego, our individuality? Why did the ancient Egyptians curve such exquisite perspectives on pyramid walls? What social maturity allowed Indian sculptors to explore such advanced eroticism at Khajuraho? Why did Van Eyck experiment with ground pigment and vegetable oil? why the heck did Speilberg make Jurassic Park?! Are we akin to dancing peacocks? Or penguins presenting polished pebbles to lady loves? Do we make art from a deep seated reproductive urge that necessitates drawing attention to ourselves? Or giving shape to one's subconscious thoughts? etc etc etc....

My point is, as far as i could understand, the central fact about art has been man's urge to express. The mediums were less important. he found some, he developed others. What is a Matisse? A colorful illusion on a single plain. What is a Mona Lisa? An illusion of a billion contiguous plains receding from the viewer - all those painted on a single plain. This we all know. Why should a computer image be any different? Your are reading this off a flat surface, yet we recognize a depth in the image(Ants) above. So are we to blame the medium, or us - the artists, for failing (till date) to create a second, but DIGITAL guernica? I believe the blame, if justified must lie with the artists. We are yet to take up the technology of the day and explore it to a greater potential. Like we did with oil. Like we are doing with acrylics. Just another medium. I think the image of digital 3D technology is still largely restricted to violent games or sci-fi. Shrek is a very welcome break. But then it was largely exaggerated, cartoonish. What about the subtler effects of a Whistlerian "Nocturne?" A real cow head full of maggots is infinitely less demanding (as regards creative ability) than designing an intimately decorated, and fully rendered virtual chat room(unlike the ones available today on the internet). We have the technology to do it, but infrastructural contraints (read paltry, modem-censured kilobytes!) keep us from turning it into reality. As also lack of greater partcipation from the artistic community. The techies did the math (like chemists at winsor grind paint), we need to breathe life into their formula! This was just an example, but hey! I surely would love to discuss these threadbare in the company of your (meaning, co-participants in the forum) virtual persons (where you may be assuming whatever identity you need to assume, say - Attila the Hun!), where the window brings in sunlight from a virtual Swiss scenery and a Botticelli Venus (another virtual self) is busy 'rustling' the latest forum newsletter languidly resting on that blue virtual couch! Extending senses, really ......

And this is not a dream, I feel. You may argue, who needs a virtual sun? But we do need Monet's light, dont we? Especially where Mme Monet, seen from a low ground is backlit by a brilliant blue sky. The real elements are already available in nature, but we still need Homer to paint restless coconut fronds in afternoon thunderstorms. Just my thoughts.

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