“Digital Artists do, simply, what centuries of artists have always done by exploring and adopting a culture’s new technology toward the making of a personal imagery. In doing so the culture is also reflected in the artwork as is the artist’s personal vision. As our culture becomes increasingly digitized, digital artists are leading the way in exploring and defining this new culture.
Digital Artists use a medium that is nearly immaterial, that being binary information which describes the color and brightness of each individual pixel on a computer screen. Taken as a whole an image consisting of pure light is the feedback devise that tells an artist what is being made and simultaneously stored on the computer’s hard drive.
Digital Artists employ many types of user interfaces that correspond to the wide variety of brushes, lenses or other tools that traditional artist use to shape their materials. Rather than manipulating digital code directly as math, these electronic brushes and tools allow an artist to translate hand motions, cutting and pasting, and what were formerly chemical dark room techniques into the mathematical changes that effect the arrangement of screen pixels and create a picture.
Digital Artists, in addition to using tools that are similar to traditional drawing, painting and photographic manipulation tools, have special sets of image creation tools called plug-ins or filters that manipulate the screen image in ways never before possible with traditional tools or media. These tools give digital art an often distinctive and exciting new look and pose real challenges to the artists who explore these new avenues.
Digital Art is created and stored in a non-material form on the computer’s memory systems and must be made physical, usually in the form of prints on paper or some other form of printmaking substrate. In addition, digital art may be exchanged and appreciated directly on a computer screen in gallery situations or simultaneously in every place on the globe with access to the web. Being immaterial has its advantages and with the advent of high quality digital printing techniques a very traditional long lasting print of this artwork can also be produced and marketed.
Digital Art is light pretending to be pigment, whereas traditional painting was pigment pretending to be light. Digital Art is the immaterial made material, which is to say that it is Art as we have always known it. Computers have not changed what we do, only the way in which we do it.”
JD Jarvis, co-author of the book, Going Digital: The Practice and Vision of Digital Artists. The preceding is reproduced with permission of the author, JD Jarvis, from the Digital Fine Art discussion group archives.