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Digital art is an umbrella term for a range of artistic works and practices that utilize digital technology. Since the 1970s various names have been used to describe what is now called digital art including computer art and multimedia art but digital art is itself placed under the larger umbrella term new media art.

The impact of digital technology has transformed traditional activities such as painting, drawing and sculpture, while new forms, such as net art, digital installation art, and virtual reality, have become recognized artistic practices. More generally the term digital artist is used to describe an artist who makes use of digital technologies in the production of art. In an expanded sense, "digital art" is a term applied to contemporary art that uses the methods of mass production or digital media.

Examples of digital art

Image:WORLD SKIN (2).JPG|World Skin (1997), Maurice Benayoun's virtual reality interactive installationImage:Dombis vitry 12 605px.jpg|view of digital art installation by Pascal DombisImage:Roy-csnewskool.png|Newschool ASCII ScreenshotImage:Courchesne LandscapeOne.jpg|Landscape One at the 1999 Ars Electronica FestivalImage:E.Fisher-Heather-in-Nervepool.jpg|ZOACODE: COMFORT THE LINKLESS: Zoacode contemplated by Heather Marandola in the Hyperhive of the Nervepool by Ebon FisherImage:jjn.jpg|Joseph Nechvatal Orgiastic abattOir 2004 computer-robotic assisted acrylic on canvas (digital painting)Image:wiki.Picture by Drawing Machine 2.jpg|thumb|Picture produced by Drawing Machine 2Image:Mandel zoom 00 mandelbrot set.jpg|Initial image of a Mandelbrot set zoom sequence with continuously coloured environmentImage:RVB group shot.jpg|A scene from Rooster Teeth Productions' popular machinima series Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch ChroniclesImage:chimeraobscura2002.jpg|Installation by Shawn Brixey of Chimera Obscura at the Gene(sis) Exhibition (2002)Image:Wiki.picture by drawing machine 1.jpg|Picture by drawing machine 1, Desmond Paul Henry, c.1960sImage:CAVE Crayoland.jpg|The Cave Automatic Virtual EnvironmentImage:Wires_1.jpg‎|Image by Perry Welman, a computer generated image that combines traditional painting with algorithm artImage:John F. Simon Jr. ComplexCity.jpg|ComplexCity by John F. Simon Jr. 2000. Software, Macintosh Powerbook G3 and acrylic. 19 x 16 x 3 1/2 inches.Image:Loops-still.jpg|Loops (still frame) by The OpenEnded GroupImage:Sandro_Bocola_Nude.jpg|Nude by Sandro Bocola Multiple for xartcollection, 1970

Various aspects of digital art

Digital production techniques in visual media

The techniques of digital art are used extensively by the mainstream media in advertisements, and by film-makers to produce special effects. Desktop publishing has had a huge impact on the publishing world, although that is more related to graphic design. It is possible that general acceptance of the value of digital art will progress in much the same way as the increased acceptance of electronically produced music over the last three decades.

Digital art can be purely computer-generated (such as fractals and algorithmic art) or taken from other sources, such as a scanned photograph or an image drawn using vector graphics software using a mouse or graphics tablet. Though technically the term may be applied to art done using other media or processes and merely scanned in, it is usually reserved for art that has been non-trivia modified by a computing process (such as a computer program, microcontroller or any electronic system capable of interpreting an input to create an output); digitized text data and raw audio and video recordings are not usually considered digital art in themselves, but can be part of the larger project of computer art and information art. Artworks are considered digital painting when created in similar fashion to non-digital paintings but using software on a computer platform and digitally outputting the resulting image as painted on canvas.

Digital photography and image processing

Digital Photography and digital printing is now an acceptable medium of creation and presentation by major museums and galleries. But the work of artists who produce digital paintings and digital printmakers is beginning to find acceptance, as the output capabilities advance and quality increases. Internationally, many museums are now beginning to collect digital art such as the San Jose Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museummarker print department also has a reasonable but small collection of digital art. One reason why the established art community finds it difficult to accept digital art is the erroneous perception of digital prints being endlessly reproducible. Many artists though are erasing the relevant image file after the first print, thus making it a unique artwork.

The availability and popularity of photograph manipulation software has spawned a vast and creative library of highly modified images, many bearing little or no hint of the original image. Using electronic versions of brushes, filters and enlargers, these "neographers" produce images unattainable through conventional photographic tools. In addition, digital artists may manipulate scanned drawings, paintings, collages or lithographs, as well as using any of the above-mentioned techniques in combination. Artists also use many other sources of electronic information and programs to create their work.

Computer generated visual media

There are two main paradigms in computer generated imagery. The simplest is 2D computer graphics which reflect how you might draw using a pencil and a piece of paper. In this case, however, the image is on the computer screen and the instrument you draw with might be a tablet stylus or a mouse. What is generated on your screen might appear to be drawn with a pencil, pen or paintbrush. The second kind is 3D computer graphics, where the screen becomes a window into a virtual environment, where you arrange objects to be "photographed" by the computer. Typically a 2D computer graphics use raster graphics as their primary means of source data representations, whereas 3D computer graphics use vector graphics in the creation of immersive virtual reality installations. A possible third paradigm is to generate art in 2D or 3D entirely through the execution of algorithms coded into computer programs and could be considered the native art form of the computer. That is, it cannot be produced without the computer. Fractal art, Datamoshing, algorithmic art and Dynamic Painting are examples.

Computer generated 3D still imagery

3D graphics are created via the process of designing complex imagery from geometric shapes, polygons or NURBS curves to create 3 dimensional shapes, objects and scenes for use in various media such as film, television, print, rapid prototyping and the special visual effects.There are many software programs for doing this. The technology can enable collaboration, lending itself to sharing and augumenting by a creative effort similar to the open source movement, and the creative commons in which users can collaborate in a project to create unique pieces of art.

Computer generated animated imagery

Computer-generated animations are animations created with a computer, from digital models created by the artist . The term is usually applied to works created entirely with a computer. Movies make heavy use of computer-generated graphics; they are called computer-generated imagery (CGI) in the film industry. In the 1990s, and early 2000s CGI advanced enough so that for the first time it was possible to create realistic 3D computer animation, although films had been using extensive computer images since the mid-70s. A number of modern films have been noted for their heavy use of photo realistic CGI.

Digital installation art

Digital installation art constitutes a broad field of activity and incorporates many forms. Some resemble video installations, particularly large scale works involving projections and live video capture. By using projection techniques that enhance an audiences impression of sensory envelopment, many digital installations attempt to create immersive environments. Others go even further and attempt to facilitate a complete immersion in virtual realms. This type of installation is generally site specific, scalable, and without fixed dimensionality, meaning it can be reconfigured to accommodate different presentation spaces.

Noah Wardrip-Fruin's interactive new media art piece entitled "Screen is an example of digital installation art. To view and interact with the piece, a user first enters a room, called the "Cave," which is a virtual reality display area with four walls surrounding the participant. White memory texts appear on the background of black walls. Through bodily interaction, such as using one's hand, a user can move and bounce the text around the walls. The words can be made into sentences and eventually begin to "peel" off and move more rapidly around the user, creating a heightening sense of misplacement.

"In addition to creating a new form of bodily interaction with text through its play, Screen moves the player through three reading experiences — beginning with the familiar, stable, page-like text on the walls, followed by the word-by-word reading of peeling and hitting (where attention is focused), and with more peripheral awareness of the arrangements of flocking words and the new (often neologistic) text being assembled on the walls. Screen was first shown in 2003 as part of the Boston Cyberarts Festival (in the Cave at Brown Universitymarker) and documentation of it has since been featured at The Iowa Review Web, presented at SIGGRAPH 2003, included in Alt+Ctrl: a festival of independent and alternative games, published in the DVD magazines Aspect and Chaise, as well as in readings in the Hammer Museummarker's HyperText series, at ACM Hypertext 2004, and in other venues."

List of digital artists



Further reading

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