[Gift]

Unit 1.D

Form and communicate a view on an arts issue

IS TRADITIONAL ART SEEN AS MORE VALUABLE THAN DIGITAL ART

A description of the issue and why they have chosen it

The art and creative industry are changing and representation within the arts is a big sticking point at the moment. [1] The public is asking for more. They want diverse work and the work needs to be accessible (in various ways such as viewing and participation) and representative of the varied human lived experience.  But this isn’t possible if the same types of people are given all the opportunities. How can we build a big and beautiful picture of life, the human experience and artistic perspectives if we only hear from the same five people? I have chosen the issue of digital art and its value because as a relatively ‘new’ art form but it has great potential to diversify art in its various forms. This is because digital art is much more accessible, most young people have access to some type of technology e.g phone, tablet or computer whereas a lot of young people may not have the money or space at home to practise ‘traditional’ art skills.  I personally believe that digital art (this included animation, motion graphics, digital illustration and any other medium of art that require a piece of computer technology) is seen as something that ‘young’ ‘inexperienced’ people do and therefore it isn’t valuable. It is considered as ‘cheating’ or ‘easy’ which I don’t agree with. In this essay, I will share both sides of the argument based on my research.  

Before I begin, it’s worth clarifying when I say ‘valuable’. In this essay, I mean high net worth monetarily as well as perception in the ‘traditional’ art world. 

Arguments for digital art being valuable

A key sign of value is how much a painting or piece of art is worth and below is a very recent example of a piece of digital art being sold for more than it was bought for. Which can show the start of a trend towards digital art being seen as valuable monetarily. This may mean that traditional art institutions and auctions houses may have to recognise the value of digital art and start to embrace them.  

Digital images are becoming art. True digital art with real value. On January 18th 2020 a digital image was bought for over 12 thousand dollars. Robbie Barrat created the image in 2018 and named it AI-Generated Nude Portrait #1. [4]

AI-Generated Nude Portrait #1

Furthermore, another argument for digital art being seen as valuable is because it has most of the elements that make ‘traditional’  art, art and valuable such as [4]

  • It can be verified as a unique creation
  • It’s part of our contemporary culture
  • Capable of being aesthetic having an underlying meaning

Last, some argue that digital art is easy when in fact it still is difficult with learning curves that require dedicated time to understand and learn just like traditional art. This point is supported by this quote: 

Like with traditional art, digital art requires you to know anatomy, perspective, and basically all the art fundamentals, in order to become a good digital artist. It is a misconception to think digital art allows you to ditch this part of your artistic learning path. For example, there is no button, shortcut, or preset that will create perfect anatomy for you. You have tools like perspective grids that will help you establish the right perspective in your drawings, but you still need the knowledge and the understanding of perspective in order to know if you are positioning the grid properly. Digital painting software provides tools to make your work easier, but these tools can´t decide for you if something looks good or not. Like I said you need the knowledge. [5]

Arguments for digital art not being as valuable as traditional art

A key argument for digital art not being valuable is its ability to be easily replicated in some way. A part of arts value is its scarcity, digital art doesn’t have this edge in the same way because of how it is made. An example of this argument is below: [2] 

We know many reasons why the Mona Lisa is valued at such a high dollar amount. Among them are that Leonardo produced the painting, in fact, it’s one of the few paintings known to have been produced by the master. It has been the subject of art thefts, conspiracy theories, and myths. It’s also a cultural icon, and the greatest attraction at the Louvre. However, stacked high atop the list of why the Mona Lisa is worth so much, is one glaring, enormously important, fact:

There is only one Mona Lisa.

The painting which has been reproduced countless times in prints and books has one original. There have been more men to set foot on the moon than there are originals of the Mona Lisa. There are more Tyrannosaurus skeletons, man made objects on Mars, and Wooly Mammoths discovered still containing flesh than originals of the Mona Lisa.

Another argument that can be made against digital art and its value is that digital art is perceived as easy or at least easier than traditional art forms and so many art teachers and critics dismiss or disregard it so it never gets the esteem it deserves. It some way this is true because a mistake can be undone easily via the computer and techniques that would take hours to do by hand can easily be replicated in a minute on a computer. The excerpt below is anecdotes that explain what this dismissal looks like. 

The prevailing thought among traditional art educators is that digital art is easier and therefore worth less. Once again, this misconception has to do with the idea of permanence. [2] 

[…] my teachers despised it. Saying Photoshop is for hacks and people that don’t know how to draw. Digital art will never catch on and I’m silly for thinking otherwise. There was so much hostility against an art form, that it made me begin to realize that it wasn’t due to wanting to learn it, but that it was because it was a new medium taking over and making it easier than what my teachers once had to use. They saw how fast art could be produced, and to me, I believe that intimidated them. They never wanted to understand the process or the art farm, they simply would disregard it. [3]

Conclusion

I believe the view of digital art is changing as the audience of buyers and consumers of art changes. The selling of that AI painting is an indication that the price of digital art is increasing alongside its value. Also, a lot of ‘niche’ digital artists are growing their own online audience into numbers that make their art mainstream, with some getting their work displayed in modern galleries. With campaigns like twitter ‘Do your thing’ a lot of smaller artist are getting recognition and roles in larger slightly old-fashion institutions that want talent to help them keep up with the new growing consumer base that is understanding the power of capital and are making buying choices that align with their politics and personal views. I believe each art form within their own time period isn’t as highly regarded as it is when time passes. I believe time passing, hindsight and changing in tastes adds value to the art. In the future, AI paintings may be highly regarded, especially the ones created with earlier versions of certain technology. From my research, I believe what is deemed valuable is changing as public perception of traditional institutions of power is shifting. People don’t believe these institutions to be trustworthy and all-knowing anymore as media consumption is diversifying. The political climate shifts will impact the art world and what is deemed valuable with time. I have understood from my research that there are some practicalities such as displaying the art at auction, originality/ownership and public taste that stop digital art taking off in the way that it could, but I believe new technology and education of varied artistic forms can address this issues.  

Appendix 

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/15/arts-diversity-arts-council-england-inequality
  2. https://medium.com/@LarzHunter/devaluing-pixels-why-digital-paintings-struggle-for-value-among-the-art-world-119f43d4bcbf
  3. http://www.muddycolors.com/2014/04/digital-art-is-not-real-art/
  4. https://www.nederob.nl/2020/01/19/why-digital-images-are-becoming-valuable-art/
  5. https://improveyourdrawings.com/2019/07/is-digital-art-easier-than-traditional-art/#:~:text=Digital%20art%20isn’t%20easier,has%20its%20pros%20and%20cons.