The Future of Art?

I walked into the classroom, the floorboard creaking under each step. Though I had fifteen minutes to spare, there were already at least a dozen other artists gathered and stationed at their easels for the life drawing class. I roamed around hoping to find a spot with an unobstructed view of the stage area and luckily found a gap where I would actually be able to see the model. I marked a spot by setting my large sketchbook down on the ground; territorial pissing.

As I inspected the stage, I noticed a purple drape flowing over a single chair. Nothing more. The model arrived shortly after I set up my easel, and after some discussion with the session coordinator, she disrobed and found a comfortable seated pose as the lights were adjusted to bring out contrast in her figure.

The first sitting lasted twenty minutes and flew by. During the break, I was sharpening my pencils when I looked up to find a familiar smiling face walking in. It was my uncle and it was good to see him there. We talked for a few moments and then he went off to find a view of his own to draw from as the model returned for the next session.

During the following break, we strolled around the room a bit, taking notice of some works by the other artists. One particular setup caught my eye as well as my uncle’s. A notebook computer was set up on some sort of frame, much like an electric keyboard rig. The artist was composing directly on to the computer through some advanced form of Photoshop.

Admittedly, I was a little put off, but my uncle was intrigued. He started inquiring about the setup as I tuned the conversation out to browse other works. There was one particular part I did catch, however, and that was the student’s remark who said this was “just another medium” to work from.

To a point, I agree with his statement. I am certainly not a technophobe but do have boundaries for how I employ certain high-tech tools. In terms of the actual art process, I am more of a traditionalist. I have difficulty enough embracing giclée printing from original work, let alone art that has been produced entirely in a digital format. It is my opinion that the aesthetic qualities lost in translation to a digital format diminish the experience of the viewer; things like texture and consequently, the flattening of light, to name a few. Furthermore, it seems the artist isn’t really challenged within this sterilized, artificial setup. All the tools he or she will ever need are right there in the program: all the colors, tools, format, etc. There is no struggle for the artist to overcome and no reason to find an innovative solution to a problem. The only limiting factor is the artists own skills.

The evening soon ended and as my uncle and I left the building, we discussed our opinions of “painting” with computers. Ultimately, we’re looking forward to more art sessions with our traditional tools. If you have any opinion on technology and art, please feel free to share.