Friday, September 14, 2012
Confessions of a Digital Artist
I spent a few hours last weekend strolling through our city's annual art fair. More than 100 artists from around the country exhibited ceramics, drawings, fiber, glass, metalwork, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture . . . and digital art. I do most of my art viewing through books, magazines and computer screens. So I was astonished by both the visceral power of work rooted in physical materials, and the relative soullessness of even the best pieces springing from a purely digital medium.
Don't get me wrong. I love digital art. The use of software tools can facilitate compelling imagery that is not possible through traditional means. But there is a living presence latent in the deep complexity of the atomic/subatomic world that cannot be actualized through algorithm. The virtual realm can simulate only an infinitesimal fragment of the profound interbeing referred to in Thich Nhat Hahn's poetic vision.
Although it's true that the great can be the enemy of the good, in my case it's more that the cool is the enemy of the profound, and that flash is the enemy of substance. I'm finally accepting the hard truth that my compulsion to constantly share new work is as much an expression of addiction as it is of creativity. Continually feeding my short term craving with drive-through digital art is undermining my potential to satisfy the underlying hunger springing from a yearning to connect more deeply with myself and the world.
So I'm going to finally do what must be done to actually follow through on my aspiration to take on more substantive projects. For the next month and a half, I'm limiting my online expression to text except for the two collaborative projects I've committed to, A is for Avatar and Single Frame Stories. I'll give it until Halloween and then reconsider. Given the likelihood that Linden Lab is going to to something parody-worthy between now and then, I may need someone to talk me down. Any volunteers?