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Technical Notes
Not just another medium! 2001s Macworld Expo and Conference
Digital Art Competitions
by Hai Dai Nguyen

1:28AM January 4, 2002
Hard drive is humming
Tickling keyboard, scratching mouse
Mantle glowing face

I am a visual haiku poet masquerading as a user interface / web architect / designer/ artist… a.k.a. cultural creative. In short, I am here to share my technological notes on today’s digital art in general and my observations on the 2001 MacWorld Expo & Conference Digital Art Competition.

On this lunar calendar year of the Water Horse, www.SVAM.org presents the 31 finalist!s AND notes that Digital Art is not another medium and/or style; but rather all mediums and all styles.

Side-scrolling SVAM’s virtual corridors, you will find not just a new medium and/or style; but rather myriad expressions laced with lights, colors, and hues. Ranging from photography, sculpture (3D), and montage to oils, pastel, watercolors, these images reflect light intricately and intimately on the issues of current times.

Astounded, I have found myself day-tripping over our art history and how the Masters, our aesthetic fathers and mothers, captured these moments of existence. From the Lascaux caves to post-modernism, have we just labeled ourselves for our own consumption? And/or are we only trying to make sense of our race to understand chaos? What is the next best thing?

1. Digital Art = All mediums all styles!
Whether it’s a drawing, painting, sculpture, and/or photo, art and its processes can all be integrated and developed on the computer and its digital devices. Processes and techniques that used to take hours to produce can be conceptualized and created quickly with today’s digital tools.

This evolution in developing art (not to mention music, performance, animation, video and film) reminds us of Marshall McLuhan’s declaration that “the medium is the message”. The computer’s digital applications allow today’s artists to communicate in a variety of expressions, styles, and techniques, allowing the message and its intent to triumph.

2) NEW Renaissance Era
Renaissance artists had to master different interdisciplinary skills to gain respect. Since it took a lifetime to master one discipline, very few met the modern definition of a Renaissance artist.

Digital Art now marks the Neo-Renaissance era. Artists access one tool or technology for many interdisciplinary skills. Now, artists can master many disciplines in one lifetime. And with today’s rapidly expanding digital “toolbox” and its evolution towards “ease of use”, future artists will be empowered to express almost as quickly as the imagination can create. Digital tools have incredibly shortened the learning curve.

Just like its predecessors, the Neo-Renaissance needs to bring the next revival of our cultures from current medieval times to another less destructive modern times. With the ability of the this "connected" medium, we must use the "Arts" properly in helping our cultures change its current values and ethics. If not for ourselves then for future generations to make sense of our current times.

With this thought in mind, I look forward to the materialization of Kandinsky’s prediction: "And so the arts are encroaching one upon another, and from a proper use of this encroachment will rise art that is truly monumental..."

3) NEW Philosophies
Before we can create something truly monumental, Einstein reminded us, “we must learn to think in a new way.”

With multimediums at our fingertips, new technologies of communication and expression will help our civilization better understand the nature of reality. Accessibility to the medium will be made simpler and it will empower the artist in all (most) of us. Sharing these digital artifacts will be universal by means of the Internet. Art and artists, as we know them, will change.

There are lots of unanswered questions. Criteria will be defined. I truly believe that there are no right answers -- just good questions and the ongoing quest for excellence. With the current times, I cannot help but to reflect this question: Can this new medium help bridge communities separated by language and cultural differences?

From my research in doing Kandinsky’s experiments, I believe that encroachment of the arts on the world at large will help us understand that metaphorically its all the same, and only through understanding and imagination are we truly free.

3:23AM January 8, 2002
Phew! Got lots to do and a living to make. Having a newborn at wing, I seem less focused on these artists’ technical notes – after all, most of them have provided their own technological notes - but rather on the message that the art expresses. Technically asking, with this ubiquitous medium, can digital art heal and inspire generations to come?

Remembering when I was one of Dr. Timothy Leary’s Digital Hollywood kids, I declared that “arts and visuals are brain food!” and our evolving Internet will help us get our daily dose!


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