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Thread: convincing Fine art Professors of digital validity?

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    convincing Fine art Professors of digital validity?

    This semester I found one professor who would let me work digitally. It's helped me really focus in on honing my digital painting ability. Which has been great!

    However, I'm not so sure the rest of the faculty shares the same mindset.

    So, I submitted a painting for the student show. This one specifically:
    convincing Fine art Professors of digital validity?
    The idea was to project the image onto the wall. Hence the frame. It's yielded nice results in the past considering the size I was able to project it at.

    It did not make the cut into the show. I asked for feedback and was told "Well, when we see it, it begs the question: Why not just paint it on canvas?"
    That was their hangup. Which honestly was expected. But I think to myself "Why NOT paint it digitally? It's different seeing a projection."
    Unfortunately they took it as just projecting a painting when you could have actually painted it. But I did? Idk.

    Anyway, do you guys have any suggestions on how to validate this medium in the fine art world?

    I intend to pursue a career initially as an illustrator/ concept artist. But I don't want to be pigeon holed as just that. I think it would be nice to be part of a new frontier in the gallery world.
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    Someone should go get Andrew Jones. This is exactly his field.


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    Get him in here! I need help! Scholarship money is riding on this!! lol
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    If scholarship money is riding on it I wouldn't mess around...do whatever they are requiring. You're not going to convince them otherwise and it isn't worth the effort anyway. Digital is just as legitimate in the fine art world as any other media...depending on who you ask. And that is the problem you will always encounter.

    Edit: On the other hand...your image isn't doing anything it would be difficult to do with physical painting, which doesn't give you as much ground to stand on, except your preference. Android Jones can make the argument that his imagery is due to the media he uses...in other words you really couldn't get those effects, detail and layering in other media...at least not very easily.
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    I just had a talk with the president of the Illustration department about this at my school yesterday because I'm switching majors to Fine Art and I'd like to pursue a career in fine art but I like to work digitally. Basically it all comes down to your customer base. You have to be able to convince someone that your work is of value (and worth buying) despite the fact that it's digital. Andrew is a good example because he's mostly a fine artist yet works exclusively digitally. He is shown in only the most cutting edge galleries that cater to digital and visionary art. He found his niche in the fine art market. Also his paintings have been printed in very extravagant and impressive ways such as on glass, on mirrors, on sculpted surfaces, holographically, and with 3D glasses, all of which are very creatively solutions to the problem of "how can I convince the audience that a digital piece is worth buying?"

    An alternative is to print it onto stretched canvas, after painting some of it digitally, and then paint over it in oils or acrylic.

    As for this piece, I would write an essay to your school describing exactly why you chose to paint it digitally instead of with traditional media. Make the argument that digital media is just as valid as traditional media and that it's not the medium that determines the value of an artwork. The jurors here are definitely close minded but it's in your power to change that.

    What school is this, by the way?
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    The main reason I think Andrew's work is especially relevant here is because last I saw him, he was talking about the way he's set up 3D space with projection paintings at his little villages at The Burning man, as well as doing all of the particle setups that the King of Abu Dubai -paid- him to do on the presentation of his debut-ant daughter. He used the Sydney Opera house as a canvas last year as a canvas for his particle shows. You will even soon be able to buy holographic prints of his work, which look amazing in person. I have a couple.

    The point is that he's used the digital medium to expand the limits and find new ways to display and project the art, and that's where the legitimacy comes from. I can see the point of saying 'Well not you're not breaking any new ground, so you might as well do it traditionally' because as far as you're not using your new technology to push even further, then it ends up coming off as mediocrity. Which is not to say it's not a great painting, but I'm trying to see into the scrutiny of your peers.

    With that in mind, perhaps you could have had it as a light projection on sculpture, or a hand-painted animated looping film - somehow taking advantage of the fact that you're working in a medium that achieves something that traditional can't.
    Last edited by Beeston; March 7th, 2012 at 03:08 PM.


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    If you want to do this you will need to know how to speak the language of "fine art". Generally when we speak in terms of painting, sculpting etc. we refer not only to an image but to an object or surface as well. Artists have expanded that an moved into areas of video and film but they rely on updated language and unique elements.

    All you have done with your piece is to mimic an existing plastic vocabulary. Try getting to the unique qualities of the medium like light. Not simply projecting but beyond into motion etc.. Like Jeff said those who are stretching the digital art form are creating new and unique languages.
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    thank you guys for your responses. I'll respond to all of this helpful info in a few hours(currently in a workshop with a visiting artist). The school I attend is The University of North Florida. It has a surprisingly exceptional faculty that really cares. Ok, my breaks over! I'll be back here to respond later!
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    Bill's right: one of the things you learn in art school is how to navigate the art world.

    Think of it as a language course: you're learning to speak fluent bullshit.
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beeston View Post
    ... - somehow taking advantage of the fact that you're working in a medium that achieves something that traditional can't.
    This is exactly it. If you can pull this off you can make a very strong argument.
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    Are you sure that the discussion is about traditional vs digital, and not about physical art vs projection?
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    @Jeff- I agree. The fact that it's just an painting without anything unique to digital gives me less ground. I'll try and hone in my bullshit skills. For the scholarship I submit like 7 images. My strongest ones will be digital. I'm just more experienced and comfortable with digital paint. Other than those I'll also use drawings. But considering digital will most likely be the primary strength and draw. I need to address it with the highest of bs.

    @Jacob- thank you so much man. This really helps me with ideas and understanding exactly what I need to do in order to validate my work for this upcoming scholarship and future shows. I have to look up Andrew immediately! The way he prints those sounds extraordinary. The reason I've been projecting is primarily experimental. I've had bad experience so far with printing. I need to find a good shop that has the capabilities of printing on good rag paper or canvas. Not the bullshit I was fed at the fedex print shop. That place blows.

    @Beeston- Thanks for the insight bud! That's exactly how this is being scrutinized. It's pretty black and white as far as the room for criticism. Considering how much of a trail blazer Andrew sounds, I might even mention him in the letter or essay or whatever it is for the scholarship. Like I was mentioning to Jacob, the purpose of projection was really to get my foot in the door for figuring out how to display this stuff. It was like "Ok, you can paint digitally, but how will you present it?" Unfortunately the enthusiasm I received in class was not equaled for the show(they didn't even set up the projector with the instructions I left for them. They just decided that there was no valid reason to even attempt to see what it looked like. That sucked. ). I think I'll mention Andrew and illustrate that my goals in exploring the medium are to push the art in a new direction in the spirit of him.

    @Bcarman- Most definitely! I guess if I'm going to play the game, I better do it right, huh? I guess that the key to making the digital media come across as fine art is to talk about it like it's fine art! Who would have though it could be so simple! Unfortunately that show didn't require a statement...I should have provided one. That was undoubtedly a mistake.

    @Stoat- I'm so glad you guys are preping me for the level of conformed language I must use! Navigate this art world I shall.
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    My comment wasn't only about learning to BS with the language. It was also about you deciding whether digital is its own unique medium with its own vision or whether it's just a quicker way to make things look traditional.

    What most people who make traditional work don't understand is why do it digitally when there is no physical materiality to roll around in. I would suggest that an overwhelming percentage of painters (certainly sculptors) are as much interested in material as they are image. What you are creating with the computer has no materiality so the old schoolers don't understand why you'd want to make the same kind of work but leave out the best part.

    Figure out why you like to work digitally and go from there. If it's just convenience then you'll never be able to sell that to a fine art crowd whatever language you use. When these guys use Android as an example it's because he has redefined the computer as a tool. He makes unique marks and presents his work, including performance, in a unique way. It's not about bullshitting it's about expanding a medium and understanding what you are doing.
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