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Digital art refers to as any artistic work or practice that uses digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process, or more specifically as computational art that uses and engages with digital media.
Since the 1960s, various names have been used to describe digital art, including computer art, multimedia artand new media art.
After some initial resistance,the impact of digital technology has transformed activities such as painting, literature, drawing, sculpture and music/sound art, while new techniques, such as internet art, digital installation art, and virtual reality, have emerged.
Andy Warhol created digital art using a Commodore Amiga where the computer was publicly introduced at the Lincoln Center, New York in July 1985. An image of Debbie Harry was captured in monochrome from a video camera and digitized into a graphics program called ProPaint. Warhol manipulated the image adding colour by using flood fills.
Digital art can be purely computer-generated (such as fractals and algorithmic art) or taken from other sources, such as a scanned photograph or an image drawn using vector graphics software using a mouse or graphics tablet. Artworks are considered digital painting when created in a similar fashion to non-digital paintings but using software on a computer platform and digitally outputting the resulting image as painted on canvas.
Amidst varied opinions on the pros and cons of digital technology on the arts, there seems to be a strong consensus within the digital art community that it has created a "vast expansion of the creative sphere", i.e., that it has greatly broadened the creative opportunities available to professional and non-professional artists alike.
Whilst 2D and 3D digital art is beneficial as it allows preservation of history that would otherwise have been destroyed by events like natural disasters and war, there is the issue of who should own these 3D scans - i.e. who should own the digital copyrights.
Digital visual art consists of either 2D visual information displayed on an electronic visual display or information mathematically translated into 3D information, viewed through perspective projection on an electronic visual display. The simplest is 2D computer graphics which reflect how you might draw using a pencil and a piece of paper. In this case, however, the image is on the computer screen and the instrument you draw with might be a tablet stylus or a mouse. What is generated on your screen might appear to be drawn with a pencil, pen or paintbrush. The second kind is 3D computer graphics, where the screen becomes a window into a virtual environment, where you arrange objects to be "photographed" by the computer. Typically a 2D computer graphics use raster graphics as their primary means of source data representations, whereas 3D computer graphics use vector graphics in the creation of immersive virtual reality installations. A possible third paradigm is to generate art in 2D or 3D entirely through the execution of algorithms coded into computer programs. This can be considered the native art form of the computer, and an introduction to the history of which is available in an interview with computer art pioneer Frieder Nake.Fractal art, Datamoshing, algorithmic art and real-time generative art are examples.
3D graphics are created via the process of designing imagery from geometric shapes, polygons or NURBS curvesto create three-dimensional objects and scenes for use in various media such as film, television, print, rapid prototyping, games/simulations and special visual effects.
There are many software programs for doing this. The technology can enable collaboration, lending itself to sharing and augmenting by a creative effort similar to the open source movement, and the creative commons in which users can collaborate in a project to create art.
Pop surrealist artist Ray Caesar works in Maya (a 3D modeling software used for digital animation), using it to create his figures as well as the virtual realms in which they exist.
Computer-generated animations are animations created with a computer, from digital models created by the 3D artists or procedurally generated. The term is usually applied to works created entirely with a computer. Movies make heavy use of computer-generated graphics; they are called computer-generated imagery (CGI) in the film industry. In the 1990s, and early 2000s CGI advanced enough so that for the first time it was possible to create realistic 3D computer animation, although films had been using extensive computer images since the mid-70s. A number of modern films have been noted for their heavy use of photo realistic CGI.
In contemporary art, the term digital art is used primarily to describe visual art that is not just made with digital tools, but that is highly computational and explicitly engages with digital technologies. Art historian Christiane Paul writes that it "is highly problematic to classify all art that makes use of digital technologies somewhere in its production and dissemination process as digital art, since it makes it almost impossible to arrive at any unifying statement about the art form".
Digital installation art constitutes a broad field of activity and incorporates many forms. Some resemble video installations, particularly large scale works involving projections and live video capture. By using projection techniques that enhance an audience's impression of sensory envelopment, many digital installations attempt to create immersive environments. Others go even further and attempt to facilitate a complete immersion in virtual realms. This type of installation is generally site-specific, scalable, and without fixed dimensionality, meaning it can be reconfigured to accommodate different presentation spaces.
Noah Wardrip-Fruin's "Screen" (2003) is an example of interactive digital installation art which makes use of a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment to create an interactive experience.Scott Snibbe's "Boundary Functions" is an example of augmented reality digital installation art, which responds to people who enter the installation by drawing lines between people indicating their personal space.
Blockchain, and more specifically NFTs, have been associated with digital art since the NFTs craze of 2020 and 2021. While the technology received many critics and has many flaws related to plagiarism and fraud (due to its almost completely unregulated nature),auction houses like Sotheby's, Christie's and various museums and galleries in the world started collaborations and partnerships with digital artists, selling NFTs associated with digital artworks (via NFT platforms) and showcasing those artworks (associated to the respective NFTs) both in virtual galleries and real life screens, monitors and TVs.
Notable art theorists and historians in this field include Oliver Grau, Jon Ippolito, Christiane Paul, Frank Popper, Jasia Reichardt, Mario Costa, Christine Buci-Glucksmann, Dominique Moulon, Robert C. Morgan, Roy Ascott, Catherine Perret, Margot Lovejoy, Edmond Couchot, Fred Forest and Edward A. Shanken.
In addition to the creation of original art, research methods that utilize AI have been generated to quantitatively analyze digital art collections. This has been made possible due to large-scale digitization of artwork in the past few decades. Although the main goal of digitization was to allow for accessibility and exploration of these collections, the use of AI in analyzing them has brought about new research perspectives.
Two computational methods, close reading and distant viewing, are the typical approaches used to analyze digitized art.Close reading focuses on specific visual aspects of one piece. Some tasks performed by machines in close reading methods include computational artist authentication and analysis of brushstrokes or texture properties. In contrast, through distant viewing methods, the similarity across an entire collection for a specific feature can be statistically visualized. Common tasks relating to this method include automatic classification, object detection, multimodal tasks, knowledge discovery in art history, and computational aesthetics. Whereas distant viewing includes the analysis of large collections, close reading involves one piece of artwork.
Fractal art is a form of algorithmic art created by calculating fractal objects and representing the calculation results as still digital images, animations, and media. Fractal art developed from the mid-1980s onwards. It is a genre of computer art and digital art which are part of new media art. The mathematical beauty of fractals lies at the intersection of generative art and computer art. They combine to produce a type of abstract art.
Interactive art is a form of art that involves the spectator in a way that allows the art to achieve its purpose. Some interactive art installations achieve this by letting the observer walk through, over or around them; others ask the artist or the spectators to become part of the artwork in some way.
Evolutionary art is a branch of generative art, in which the artist does not do the work of constructing the artwork, but rather lets a system do the construction. In evolutionary art, initially generated art is put through an iterated process of selection and modification to arrive at a final product, where it is the artist who is the selective agent.
Generative art refers to art that in whole or in part has been created with the use of an autonomous system. An autonomous system in this context is generally one that is non-human and can independently determine features of an artwork that would otherwise require decisions made directly by the artist. In some cases the human creator may claim that the generative system represents their own artistic idea, and in others that the system takes on the role of the creator.
Software art is a work of art where the creation of software, or concepts from software, play an important role; for example software applications which were created by artists and which were intended as artworks. As an artistic discipline software art has attained growing attention since the late 1990s. It is closely related to Internet art since it often relies on the Internet, most notably the World Wide Web, for dissemination and critical discussion of the works. Art festivals such as FILE Electronic Language International Festival, Transmediale (Berlin), Prix Ars Electronica (Linz) and readme have devoted considerable attention to the medium and through this have helped to bring software art to a wider audience of theorists and academics.
Computer art is any art in which computers play a role in production or display of the artwork. Such art can be an image, sound, animation, video, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, video game, website, algorithm, performance or gallery installation. Many traditional disciplines are now integrating digital technologies and, as a result, the lines between traditional works of art and new media works created using computers has been blurred. For instance, an artist may combine traditional painting with algorithm art and other digital techniques. As a result, defining computer art by its end product can thus be difficult. Computer art is bound to change over time since changes in technology and software directly affect what is possible.
Electronic art is a form of art that makes use of electronic media. More broadly, it refers to technology and/or electronic media. It is related to information art, new media art, video art, digital art, interactive art, internet art, and electronic music. It is considered an outgrowth of conceptual art and systems art.
Karl Sims is a computer graphics artist and researcher, who is best known for using particle systems and artificial life in computer animation.
Interactive evolutionary computation (IEC) or aesthetic selection is a general term for methods of evolutionary computation that use human evaluation. Usually human evaluation is necessary when the form of fitness function is not known or the result of optimization should fit a particular user preference.
Virtual cinematography is the set of cinematographic techniques performed in a computer graphics environment. It includes a wide variety of subjects like photographing real objects, often with stereo or multi-camera setup, for the purpose of recreating them as three-dimensional objects and algorithms for the automated creation of real and simulated camera angles. Virtual cinematography can be used to shoot scenes from otherwise impossible camera angles, create the photography of animated films, and manipulate the appearance of computer-generated effects.Virtual cinematography is the set of cinematographic techniques performed in a computer graphics environment
Algorithmic art or algorithm art is art, mostly visual art, in which the design is generated by an algorithm. Algorithmic artists are sometimes called algorists.
Desmond Paul Henry (1921–2004) was a Manchester University Lecturer and Reader in Philosophy (1949–82). He was one of the first British artists to experiment with machine-generated visual effects at the time of the emerging global computer art movement of the 1960s. During this period, Henry constructed a succession of three electro-mechanical drawing machines from modified bombsight analogue computers which were employed in World War II bombers to calculate the accurate release of bombs onto their targets. Henry's machine-generated effects resemble complex versions of the abstract, curvilinear graphics which accompany Microsoft's Windows Media Player. Henry's machine-generated effects may therefore also be said to represent early examples of computer graphics: "the making of line drawings with the aid of computers and drawing machines".
Casey Edwin Barker Reas, also known as C. E. B. Reas or Casey Reas, is an American artist whose conceptual, procedural and minimal artworks explore ideas through the contemporary lens of software. Reas is perhaps best known for having created, with Ben Fry, the Processing programming language.
Mel Alexenberg is an American-Israeli artist, art educator, and writer recognized for his pioneering work exploring the intersections of art, science, technology and digital culture. He created the first digital computer generated painting in 1965, experimental digital fine art prints in the 1980s that are in 30 museum collections worldwide, circumglobal cyberangel flights honoring Rembrandt in 1989 and in 2019, and a dialogue between tactile artworks and NFTs. Alexenberg has educated generations of young artists as professor at Columbia University and universities in Israel, research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and head of the art department at Pratt Institute where he taught the first course on creating art with computers.
Golan Levin is an American new media artist, composer, performer and engineer interested in developing artifacts and events which explore supple new modes of reactive expression.
Computer graphics deals with generating images with the aid of computers. Today, computer graphics is a core technology in digital photography, film, video games, cell phone and computer displays, and many specialized applications. A great deal of specialized hardware and software has been developed, with the displays of most devices being driven by computer graphics hardware. It is a vast and recently developed area of computer science. The phrase was coined in 1960 by computer graphics researchers Verne Hudson and William Fetter of Boeing. It is often abbreviated as CG, or typically in the context of film as computer generated imagery (CGI). The non-artistic aspects of computer graphics are the subject of computer science research.
Fractal-generating software is any type of graphics software that generates images of fractals. There are many fractal generating programs available, both free and commercial. Mobile apps are available to play or tinker with fractals. Some programmers create fractal software for themselves because of the novelty and because of the challenge in understanding the related mathematics. The generation of fractals has led to some very large problems for pure mathematics.
Pascal Dombis is a digital artist who uses computers and algorithms to produce excessive repetition of simple processes.
New media art includes artworks designed and produced by means of electronic media technologies, comprising virtual art, computer graphics, computer animation, digital art, interactive art, sound art, Internet art, video games, robotics, 3D printing, and cyborg art. The term defines itself by the thereby created artwork, which differentiates itself from that deriving from conventional visual arts. New Media art has origins in the worlds of science, art, and performance. Some common themes found in new media art include databases, political and social activism, Afrofuturism, feminism, and identity, a ubiquitous theme found throughout is the incorporation of new technology into the work. The emphasis on medium is a defining feature of much contemporary art and many art schools and major universities now offer majors in "New Genres" or "New Media" and a growing number of graduate programs have emerged internationally. New media art may involve degrees of interaction between artwork and observer or between the artist and the public, as is the case in performance art. Yet, as several theorists and curators have noted, such forms of interaction, social exchange, participation, and transformation do not distinguish new media art but rather serve as a common ground that has parallels in other strands of contemporary art practice. Such insights emphasize the forms of cultural practice that arise concurrently with emerging technological platforms, and question the focus on technological media per se. New Media art involves complex curation and preservation practices that make collecting, installing, and exhibiting the works harder than most other mediums. Many cultural centers and museums have been established to cater to the advanced needs of new media art.
Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is the use of computer graphics to create or contribute to images in art, printed media, video games, simulators, computer animation and VFX in films, television programs, shorts, commercials, and videos. The images may be dynamic or static, and may be two-dimensional (2D), although the term "CGI" is most commonly used to refer to the 3-D computer graphics used for creating characters, scenes and special effects in films and television, which is described as "CGI animation".
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