Artbite #4 – digital art is secondhand art

Digital art is secondhand art. The stuff of art, the charcoal, the dust, the mess is lost in digital work – somehow the control required of the artisan feels more valuable than the ability to create a work within the virtual envelope. The seductive tools on (say) an iPad, which in particular seems very close (at first glance) to the experience of using a sketchbook, offer so much range, but the artist is always choosing from the programmers’ extant decisions. These offerings of colour palette, filter or just the ability to cut/paste in ever more subtle and beautiful ways are fundamentally different from selecting an oil pastel, tube of paint or any physical medium to smear, mix or use to make artwork with – I think it is the light falling on the object (perhaps I’m alluding to Adorno’s truth-object in ellipsis), its weight and unpredictability, its ertness to moisture, heat or even accident ….
Digital art can patently be as moving, skilful, hard-won and improved by thousands of hours’ practice as the art of stuff, but nonetheless a set of skills seem to have been devolved to others.


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