Dedd Pixel

Art

It’s an 8-bit World

by on May.23, 2014, under Art

Mashable recently described fascinating artwork by Adam Lister, who creates watercolor paintings of classical works in blocky, 8-bit like format.  I love his work, not only because of the video game reference, but because I’m impressed by his control over the medium.  As someone who can’t make watercolor paint do anything other than form nebulous blurs, I can appreciate his fine linework and controlled coloration.

I feel 8-bit video games are a natural inspiration for his work.  Impressionism used tiny brush strokes, often focusing on how light hits a subject.  8-bit video game graphics are constructed from tiny pixels, with every pixel critically placed to provide definition of the subject.  Sometimes a single pixel is all that exists to represent the highlight or shadow.

What’s especially interesting about this work is how the human brain reacts.  While the images are abstracted from what we recognize from the original art pieces, we clearly know what paintings they represent – assuming, of course, that we are familiar with the originals.  I zoomed in with my browser as far as it could go and the images were still recognizable to me regardless of what part of the image I was looking at.  The brain has an amazing capacity to process information and it does not require realism to understand it.  Most of what we see and experience on a daily basis are fast glimpses of reality, but our brain assembles these bits of information to present to us our understanding of the world.

While modern day video games focus on high-resolution, highly realistic graphics, the 8-bit imagery of yore will always hold appeal.

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Human Disconnectedness

by on May.13, 2014, under Art

Digital art has a tendency to feel cold and distant.  What fine art looks like in the selfie era exemplifies this.  It’s easy to feel emotionally distant when steel-blue pixels fly across the screen against an auditory backdrop of electronic, robotic noisescapes but these examples put a more depressive human angle on the new-wave of human disconnectedness .  In real life, you can barely have a conversation with someone and not have them check their facebook status or check in with foursquare, now we can experience art that barely notices that we are even there.

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Art and Outcomes on Student Thinking

by on Nov.25, 2013, under Art

The New York Times reported on  a study conducted on student visitors to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas that showed a strong correlation between exposure to the arts and enhanced critical thinking skills, higher levels of social tolerance and greater historical empathy.  This effect was stronger for students from poorer backgrounds who may have not had prior opportunities to view and think about art.  In light of this study, it seem especially demoralizing that arts programs are being cut in preference of a STEM-only curriculum when an integrated approach may be most effective at cultivating a young mind.

Education has been shoved into a pigeon-hole of teaching to the standardized tests and may be doing our teachers, our students, and this country’s future a major disservice.  The problems our children will have to solve, such as over-population and climate change, require creative thinking because there is no clear-cut answer.  Twelve years of training that the world’s problems can be boiled down to a single, easily arrived at letter on a multiple choice test is not the most effective way to prepare kids for the future, even if it’s easiest for us to judge.

 

 

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Obsolescent

by on Sep.02, 2013, under Art, General

Rhizome.org and the New Museum are offering artists the opportunity to recover their art that is currently stuck on obsolete media before it is too late.  Through September 8th, they’re offering transfers from archaic storage such as floppy disks to a more stable format with the option to transfer them to the Internet Archive as well.

The art world has always had to deal with the issue of preservation but the severity of the issue is intensified by magnitudes for the born-digital materials.  This is not just true for art, but for other documents that made hold historical value.  In a world where it is so easy to Select All and Delete, how do we ensure that our history will be preserved?  Is it up to the digital archeologists of the future to comb through caches and log files to piece together the remnants of history forgotten?  I’ve had several desktop computers die on me and their carcasses sit dormant in the basement.  I simply re-installed the software on my new computers but the images, papers, and other memorabilia lie lost on those hard drives.  The exact makeup has long been forgotten so who knows when and if I’ll ever get around to recovered what was on those old drives.

In the age of the smartphone snapshot, how much digital history is banished before it can be preserved?  We snap away in our smartphone cameras and pick and choose what gets posted to our social media circles.  How many interesting beautiful cast-aways never see the light of a computer screen?  How many memories are forgotten when we upgrade our phone?  Physical prints are rarely created by the average person anymore, so how much family history will be lost in private Flickr accounts or locked down Facebook albums when someone passes away?  Is the age of stumbling across your grandparent’s old family album fading away?

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Is it Art?

by on Mar.17, 2013, under Art

My husband and I both earned degrees in Computer Engineering and a liberal arts field: he in English Creative Writing and I in Studio Arts.  Our immediate core of good friends are all tech people who earned degrees in Computer Engineering or Computer Science and as such tend to be solely practical minded.  Often, we go out to restaurants and have a good time and while there notice the various artwork hanging on the wall.  Often, the age-old question comes up for them.

Is that really art?

The conversation then usually devolves into my husband and I arguing that it is art, while they all complain that the piece is just some old rusty metal that was found in a field and cut into a series of squares and that they could do that so it cannot be art.

I think they should stop being so hard on themselves.

First of all, they are not” doing that.”  They are not looking at some old rusty metal that they found in a field and viewing it from the perspective of how they could transform it into something beautiful and/or meaningful.  No, if they happened to see some old rusty metal, likely they would not even notice its presence.  It’s easy to see a work after the fact and assume that you are fully capable of creating it yourself, but what these just-engineers are not able to realize is that the process is more than the physical creation of the object.  There is also the conception, the act of creation (of which the artists himself is not required to do), the presentation and the reception from the viewer.  They might be able to perform the creation step, but only after much research and analysis of how to work metal effectively.  Moreover, in this instance, they were not able to conceive of the idea without the finished work being right there in front of them.  They certainly weren’t able to present it in a visually compelling way and the fact that they are not able to receive the work as art that speaks to them and their experiences is their problem not the artist’s.

Secondly, they really should stop being so hard on themselves…

They seem to be conflating whether or not they think they could create something similar as determining whether or not something can be art.  What they don’t realize is that they are fully capable of creating art.  Just because they are able to do something, doesn’t make it not art.  When (or if) they create, do they do it purely for function or do they try to incorporate some beauty, or emotion, or meaning to it?  If they were willing, they are fully capable of opening their minds and creating something artistic.  I find it sad that for one of these individuals, who can make beautiful quilts, she doesn’t see what she does as artistic; she feels that she is just making quilts.  Despite this, the works are beautiful and are certainly art to others even if she feels her work is without meaning.

The question of ‘is it art’ was answered long ago.  Duchamp’s Fountain was one of the most pivotal pieces of last century.  This realization that anything can be art is incredible because we can then move beyond asking the simple “is it art” and begin asking the more meaningful “is this effective art?”  Is the artist effective at addressing a point and/or is he effective at evoking an emotion from the viewer?  In the case of my friends, he was not effective, but only because they don’t have experiences where old rusty pieces of metal can bring back memories or be viewed as beautiful.  For me, they remind me of the aging farm equipment I see out in east Boulder county.  I marvel at the beautiful color variations as the rust patterns flow over each individual piece.  The rust is a natural occurrence and its patterns develop by chance.  Framing the rust using just the metal they formed on, cutting each piece exactly and precisely provides a nice contrast to the randomness contained within.  For me, it was effective, beautiful, and of course, it is art.

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