The digital revolution has changed the world. Art has also changed. Art is created on computers, digital images are shared, NFT’s are sold (I think, I’m not exactly sure what NFT’s are but they seem to exist in cyberspace for the most part) and 3-D printers are a thing now. Artists push the boundaries of what art is. Given the growth of the "cyberverse", AI, high-speed computing, and CGI why do I still paint with an “analog” paintbrush on canvas? Why do I still use methods and techniques that have been around for hundreds of years? It’s not because I’m part of the resistance, joining forces with John Connor to thwart the rise of the machines. (or am I….).
Creating physical works of art connects the artist and the viewer in a tangible and meaningful way. One of the most emotionally moving works of art is the hand, stenciled on the wall of a cave. There is a direct link between the artist who placed their hand on the wall and the viewer. A direct connection that transcends time and unites the viewer and the artist in a moment in time. For that moment they exist together. Painting and sculpture also share that quality. When I stand in front of a Rembrandt painting there is a moment when there is only myself and Rembrandt. Time no longer exists. Rembrandt was the last person to spread the paint, to scratch the surface, to leave his mark. Now, years later, I stand staring at those marks, scratches, and paint, just as he left them. Rembrandt stood in front of the very painting that I now stand in front of. There is only Rembrandt, talking to me across hundreds of years, as we both contemplate the same exact globs of paint.
Digital art (in my opinion) is starting to lose that direct connection from artist to viewer. The hand of the artist is being obscured by ones and zeros. If I look at a digital work of art it’s possible the artist never had any physical connection with it. A digital pen creates a digital image on a machine that digitally edits it and sends it (digitally) to a printer or screen which alters it again and finally it is viewed on a screen. The direct connection between the artist and the viewer is missing (or at least being filtered and beginning to slip away). If you stand in front of the stenciled hand on the cave wall you know that the artist was there and physically left a direct mark of their presence. Rembrandt and I are both are looking at the same smear of paint and contemplating its nuances. An image created in a computer only really exists in that computer and it can’t be experienced directly. I think something is lost.
I paint with oil paint on canvas. I enjoy rich, thick paint application that captures brush strokes and holds them in time so they can be passed on to the viewer hundreds of years from now. I am contemplating the nuances of the paint smears along with the future.
Artists create the art that moves them and this is why I paint. Creating a direct human connection across time. As the computer and digital ages continue to advance I (and possibly John Connor) will continue to use old fashion means to create art that connects and speaks from one human to another.