Figurative Digital Art Enhanced Manifesto
Massimo Cremagnani – Capitolouno
Attribuzione – Non commerciale – Non opere derivate 3.0
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Published on November 4, 2009
What is Digital Art?
When in the mid 90s I started my research on Digital Art I was mainly driven by a strong dose of curiosity and the desire to face a still unexplored style.
But soon, to these stimuli were added the doubts: many were the detractors of digital as an artistic expression, more or less competent people who criticized the artificiality of the images and some typical properties of what was made on the computer rather than freehand.
Comparing the new Art with painting, the topics mainly refuted were the absence of a personal stroke, the low resolution of the images (the computing power was much lower than today) and the lack of physical presence of color.
All these objections can still appear to be well-founded, provided that one starts from the assumption of comparing digital figuration with the Sacred Art of Painting. This erroneous assumption is sadly widespread because of the many failed attempts to simulate and emulate traditional painting techniques: photographing a painting, retouching the photo and printing it digitally; using "artistic" filters to imitate Van Gogh's brushstrokes or Seurat's Pointillism; relying on specific software to "paint" in watercolor and then print on cotton paper... All these are real experiences, which I have seen practising by artists, even of a certain importance, without any shame.
Just as it had happened for photography one hundred and fifty years earlier, a new art form was denigrated because it was compared to an existing one, rather than being considered an innovation in itself.
At this point, while I was acquiring a good familiarity with digital tools, the purpose of my research splitted: on the one hand I was looking for a personal style of my own (what some people considered impossible with digital) and on the other hand to establish if and how Figurative Digital Art had the sense to exist and therefore to be appreciated as Art.
The aim was to establish if and how Figurative Digital Art had the sense to exist and therefore to be appreciated as Art.
The research was facilitated by my collaboration with Computer Graphics & Publishing magazine, now extinct, for which I created the section "Computerarte?". The presence of the question mark highlighted the investigative spirit of what was emerging, both from a technical and creative point of view.
Inside the section I published a first Manifesto of Digital Art. I had to answer something to the detractors, and at the same time distance myself from those who actually lowered the level. The text was much more sarcastic than the current one, perhaps less constructive but more poetic.
At the end of that first experience I collected the results in my thesis Digital Art Chapter I, presented at the Brera Academy in 1999 and awarded with full marks. But the research was not over - if ever it will end - and so I continued to experiment and compare myself with other artists.
By the mid-2000's most of the confutations had been resolved.
- I achieved a personal style, just as other artists had achieved theirs
- The technology allowed bigger and better defined images, both in the creative moment (on screen) and in reality (in print).
- The material presence of color could be made with certain types of inks or other more crafty tricks (of which I am not a great supporter).
But above all I kept on inventing or discovering innovative aesthetic aspects, different from any other artistic formula, carefully choosing the type of image processing and the matching between the printers and their inks with unconventional media.
All of this led to the definitive answer: Digital Figurative Art can have an identity, as long as the use of digital is openly differentiated from other forms of Art.
. Or rather, as the Manifesto begins:
With Figurative Digital Art we mean those static, dynamic or interactive works that presuppose the need for digital tools for their realization, where other methods would not bring a similar or equally effective aesthetic effect.
The Manifesto then continues with nine other key points, divided into three triplets.
- The first one confirms the innovative importance of digital tools and their connection with contemporary culture and creativity.
- In the second triplet I focus on the Artist, a leading figure who needs a new code of ethics and a constant research to appreciate the advantages of digital without falling into the easy traps of naïf.
- In conclusion I dwell on the need to identify Digital Art as much as possible, differentiating it both from Classical Arts and the Graphic Arts related to visual communication.
After the first "poster" version, the Manifesto was published on several occasions by Computer Arts magazine, integrating the decalogue with an excursus on my varied artistic experience, a debate on the meaning of Digital Art taken from a forum and some tips for readers.
Ten years after my first Manifesto - and after ten years of research - I decided to gather the gained experience in a single volume, in an even more amplified version.
I added the necessary introduction to the original script, because it' s not a "light" text .
I strengthened it with historical notes, duly mentioning my precursors.
I illustrated the ten dogmas in detail, combining each one of them with one of my artworks, or better, the enlarged detail of a work, so that the sense of a digital style was clearer and more attainable.
I hope to leave a useful and interesting study document, perhaps the only one about an art form that in a few years has gone from misunderstood to taken for granted without receiving due attention.
Many thanks for your attention and have a good read