What is Digital Art?

What is Digital Art?

The burgeoning movement of digital fine art is exciting and I’m grateful to be living in an age with digital technology available to me. I’m often asked what digital art is and hope this page helps to better understand it.

Digital art is a general term for a range of artistic works and practices that use digital technology as an essential part of the creative and/or presentation process.

This statement by Christiane Paul, curator of new media art at the Whitney Museum of American Art only begins to explain in the most general terms what Digital Art is. But as one delves deeper it gets complicated and confusing. I find what digital artist, designer and journalist Max Eternity wrote on his former online site, Art Digital Magazine, clarifying, as he ties together the range of artistic practices within the realm of digital technology:

Digital Art: Nomenclature for visual art forms created prior to the digital age–painting, printing, sculpting, etc.–that now employ digital technology and virtual tools to replace or build upon former physical tools and substrates, while keeping in place such long-held protocols like editioning, which cannot be overstated as critical to the understanding and value of each rendered piece. Omni Art: Nomenclature for intentional works of creativity–usually defined as art–that may or may not exist well within the bounds of historically understood visual art categories–painting, drawing, mixed-media, sculpting, poetry, dance, etc.–terms once applicable and useful in identifying all styles and types of artistic work products prior to the industrial revolution and the subsequent digital age. These forms of art, often called new media, are currently made possible and shaped by the rise of electronic devices, like video games, capable of capturing and/or creating moving images, and include projects that employ entirely or in part electronic, biological, mechanical, digital or other tools used creatively for work products that are virtual and/or physical, and possibly interactive or ephemeral in nature, in which editioning may or may not be relative.

As you can see, the term digital art is quite broad with numerous expressions and I question where I fit in. On the one hand, an expression of my digital art  is to create digital prints as a means to render the digital information I have created onto a substrate so that it can be hung on a wall to be viewed and appreciated. In this sense, my work is not much different than the traditional print maker. On the other hand, I also endeavor in sculpture in the form of 3d printing. I can translate these digital files that delineates three dimensional objects through the use of a machine, a 3d printer instead of a 2d printer, to bring the virtual into reality. 3d printing in artistic practice technology straddles both realms of Digital and Omni Art. An example are my model citizens: https://andrewreach.com/in-print-artist-uses-thinkbox-to-shift-into-new-dimension-case-western-reserve-university-school-of-engineering-2014-2015-annual-report/

And now a new direction in my work in the realm of digital media is printing my artworks on rigid substrates as opposed to media of the traditional digital print (paper/canvas). Printing on rigid substrates opens up a new avenue of exploration in my work by allowing my geometric constructs to expand beyond the confines of square and rectangular formats with use of a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Router that can shape my prints by cutting the substrate panel to my specifications. An example is my installation at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland: https://andrewreach.com/lgbt-community-center-art-installation/

So simply, like artists from all times, I create pictures and sculptures. And I want those pictures and sculptures to be displayed where viewers can have a personal experience with it. It’s not unlike a traditional artist who paints or draws a picture or creates a sculpture and then aspires for them to be exhibited and displayed in a public or private environment so that it can live on for years to come to speak who ever may view it. Digital technology does not change this constant of human endeavor, it merely enhances it and brings new forms of expression.