White Paper on Digital Art

The Corvallis Art Guild exists to promote art appreciation and to provide a climate for the expression of art for its members and the community. The advance of technology and new media is testing the definition of art every day. This white paper establishes the context in which digital art becomes a part of the visual arts supported by the Guild and is a result of considerable work by the Board and a committee of traditional and digital artists.

Considerable confusion, discussion and interest has surrounded whether digitally produced art should be included as a form of visual art accepted and embraced by the Guild. Notable museums and galleries are now exhibiting digitally generated art as the medium is being embraced and expanded by artists worldwide.

Digital art most commonly refers to art created on a computer or in digital form. Digital art can be purely computer-generated such as fractal and algorithmic art, or from other sources such as those scanned or photographed and non-trivially manipulated in a computer using graphics software. In an expanded sense, “digital art” is a term often applied to contemporary art that uses the methods of mass production. In the case of the Guild definition, mass production methods are excluded in preference to originally created digital art by the artist. Often the digital artist will create the original and destroy the “files” creating a “one of one” digitally created piece.

Thus giclees, Iris Prints (reproductions of traditional art), and reproductions of traditional or digital originals are not included or acceptable in this definition of original digital art. Prints, gliclees or reproductions can still be made just as is being done by traditional artists who embrace the ability to make similar “prints or giclees” of their art work; all of these are not classified as original art but copies (however you define “copy”) of originals.

The Corvallis Art Guild exists to advance creative achievement, to provide educational opportunities and to exhibit fine art in the local communities. To become a member and exhibiting any artwork, an artist’s work is subjected to an extensive list of criteria demonstrating a high level of competence in design principles, technique, presentation, and originality. All these criteria apply equally to digital art, particularly to photographic work that must be an artistic interpretation of a digitally captured image and exhibits a high degree of non-trivial craftsmanship. The melding of this “new” art with traditional art is not unlike the transition that took place at the introduction of water soluble media in the age of oil based paintings. The tools (read “computers”) are just different. The discerning eye can readily identify the difference between art created by “just pushing a button” to art digitally created utilizing a competent understanding of design principles and presentation and a talented non-trivial utilization of the computational tool set. A fine but discernable line exists between works that should be under the purview of the Photographic Guild versus the Art Guild. Non-photographic digital art is less contentious and exhibits more evidence of original creativity.

The addition of this new medium expands the scope of two-dimensional art exhibited and sold in the community by Corvallis Art Guild members. Given the acceptance of digital art by notable museums and galleries and the expanded use of digital tools by artists worldwide, particularly the younger generation, the Guild has the potential of attracting new members as well as new audiences for this art. The Guild also becomes recognized as an organization that espouses this new and continuously evolving trend of media and expanding the visual arts in the community.

After careful consideration the committee chard with developing criteria for judging digital art recommends the Corvallis Art Guild will use the same criteria to judge and accept the quality of digital art as is now used to judge the quality of art created in traditional media. Digital media will be recognized as being equal to traditional media. A media-specific criterion to judge the quality of traditional works is not utilized by the Corvallis Art Guild and as such, it is equally appropriate to judge digital works the same way. The utilization of a jury member familiar with digital media will help judging the “craftsmanship” or procedural aspects of digital work.

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