While the definition of art has changed over the years, the field of art history has developed to allow us to categorize changes in art over time and to better understand how art shapes and is shaped by the creative impulses of artists.
Having a solid grasp of art history, then, is important. I spoke with Alexander Daniloff and Jonathan Ball about the concept of art through history and about whether tracing a line through traditional and contemporary art is possible.
Alexander Daniloff is a Russian artist who lives and works in Italy. His focus is painting, although he has worked in several media. Lately, he has worked on children’s illustrations. He has participated in various events and illustration competitions and has illustrated three books. He has held numerous individual and group exhibitions in Italy, Russia, Holland, Spain, Finland and the US.
Jonathan Ball is the creative behind Poked Studio, an innovative company committed to developing creative visual solutions. That’s not all: among its services, Poked Studio offers illustration; Web, graphic and blog design; 3-D rendering and visualization; motion graphics; children’s book illustration; Flash websites; and games.
Visual arts have been transformed by articles and critical essays; meanwhile, the works themselves have become mute. In the theater, the curators and critics have taken up the front row. This is my view on the difference between contemporary and traditional art.
I personally prefer art measured in human dimensions: art that whispers and doesn’t shout, art that covers me and makes me fly and does not crush. But I must confess, some of these modern things attract me; for example, mural painting (graffiti) and abstract things.
Most definitely [we can draw a line from traditional to contemporary art]. Many of the same techniques are used, just in slightly different ways and with different tools. The same principles apply, however you create art.
I see a line particularly running through the stylized form of Japanese art such as Hokusai and contemporary stylized graphic illustration.
Digital art has obviously developed much more quickly than the thousands of years of hand-crafted techniques. A whole generation has been brought up on “Photoshop” and other tools, whereas earlier generations used pen and pencil.
Still, I believe that digital art is still in its infancy. Despite what seems an enormous amount of progress in computer hardware, general computing and even the computing available to most design studios is just not fast enough to easily reproduce art on the scale and level of detail possible with traditional media. Go to any national gallery, and you will see works on an enormous scale. Try reproducing a 10-foot canvas with the resolution of a hand-painted work of art in a 3-D program, and you’ll find it can’t cope. In fact, most programs will struggle to render a detailed picture at, say, 300 DPI at just A4 size.
While a painting may appear to be just splotches and blobs, when you go up to it close, the patterns are beautiful by themselves, full of color, intensity, saturation and texture. Go close to digital art or a TV screen and you’ll see a mess of distortion and artifacts.
Once screen resolution is on par with printed media, and once computer technology allows us to easily create large, highly detailed work at speed, then digital will have caught up to traditional media.
Most digital art of the early-21st century is designed to be viewed on low-resolution devices. Much of this art will be obsolete when higher-resolution screens and devices are developed over the next century. And much that has been stored only on hard drives will be lost forever as drives fail and websites close or are redeveloped.
I find it a shame that so much great work is reproduced at such a limited resolution and scale and not stored in a way that keeps it safe for future generations.