Digital Art: Revitalising art and humanising technology

Digital artist Bernard Montebello enlightens us on the new and exciting genre of Digital Art, and how digital technologies are being used to create new engaging artworks.

Separating problems and solutions, thoughts from words, art and science and sometimes even objects, is one of the problems faced by all humans. One of the pitfalls of humans is that they tend to fall into their own “thinking traps”.  The result is that art and science are most of the time separated and estranged from each other, when the core of creativity is the clear formulation of a problem and the intellectual innovation to solve it in a process.  Intellectual innovation becomes the solution that allows humans to see that science and art are moving hand in hand.

The relationship between art and science dates back to stone-age era, however in the past two decades the fast-evolving technologies have radically brought forward an evolution and a revolution. The digital journey started to have a faster rhythm flow. Improvements in digital technologies, biology, nuclear physics, computers, materials sciences and advanced audio-visual engineering have stimulated the artists and their innovations to breath-taking levels of achievements. The more science and art advance in each era, the more we are prompted to ask: is it art? How much do we understand science? What shall we expect next? and how will technology influence art?

Figure Digital Artwork – Victims (Art Submitted to The Luxemburg Gallery of Art)

In 1888, Vincent Van Gogh commented about works of art that are yet to be created, speculating that they would be “beyond the power of an isolated individual “and that “they will, therefore, probably be created by groups of men combining together to execute an idea held in common”. Fast forward to 2021, we know that digital art goes beyond the power of the isolated individual and provides the platform for humans to combine and execute ideas that are common. In 1914, Franz Marc also commented that “the art to come will be giving form to our scientific convictions.  It will be profound enough and substantial enough to generate the greatest form, the greatest transformation the world has ever seen”. 

These masters of modern art had a deep commitment to painting as a form of personal expression, however their futuristic visions in changes of the traditional method, form and context of art can be felt today. Nowadays these visions are becoming more evident in the interaction between the artists and people in other disciplines ensuring the relevance of art to the changing human, social and environmental conditions. Such conditions will grow more complex as technology advances and with it, the growing awareness that art as a means to satisfy perceptual and aesthetic needs will depart from traditional forms and enter into new forms. The probability is that the physical and applied sciences will motivate new art and new directions into new visual forms, expressions and communication.

Figure 2 Digital Artwork – In Essence

Digital Art roots itself in the 1960’s, mostly, and is described as the digital process, computer art and/or multimedia art. Digital art is itself placed under the larger umbrella term new media art in this modern world. Fast forward to 2021, the diversity of tools made available are endless and the straightforward access and distribution channels on social media provide opportunities for new forms of artistic expression, the limitations of which are not yet clear. Digital Art in these last few years, even in Malta, has seen a shift whereby many artists are on-boarding this new, satisfying art form and turning to digital technologies to create new engaging artworks.

Digital technologies serve first and foremost as an extension of traditional techniques and tools. These tools replicate the traditional tools found in the traditional media including the digital brushes, different textures, different blends and range to other traditional media too including sculpture, 3D modelling and photography. As an example, digital brushes are created digitally to create different brush strokes, lines and designs that replicate those within the traditional medium and aid in giving the desired textures to the painting or artwork that the artist is creating.

Departing from the traditional art, one can incorporate most of the traditional techniques within the digital medium.  As well as the digital tools, the traditional techniques can be incorporated within the digital platforms, the artworks can still incorporate chiaroscuro, cubism, modernism, pop art or any other form of technique present within the traditional. In fact, these can still be attributed to artworks and within different media.  

Limitations still exist within the digital art platforms, one of which is that a graphics tablet, a stylus or a mouse doesn’t feel quite the same as a paint brush, a chisel/hammer or even the fresh smell of oil paint. This sometimes raises questions such as “is digital art less enjoyable to create than what is traditional? Is it more superficial and can it be considered as true art?” Certainly, although digital art is different, it is still immensely enjoyable and while many love the feeling of the paint brush in their hand, the way a digital brush gently slides across the tablet and creates a flow of art, surely is equivalently a pleasant feeling. The ability to digitally erase mistakes makes it more difficult to create something that is imperfect/perfect, and that is the beauty of this new art form and what makes it art in itself.

Therefore, Digital Art is an exciting art genre that will grow and evolve in relation to the technologies present in our contemporary society. Technologies will influence change directly, as relational to artworks and art styles. Teaching art within scientific communities will be the only way to lead technologies to contribute to the revitalization of art and that of artistic perceptions. In turn, art will play a significant role in the humanization of technology.

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2 years ago

Once I saw his work in an exhibition and I really loved his work!
I managed to see all his work on his website. Very dedicated and professional.