Further, "My paintings and sculpture now incorporate decisions decided through use of high technology. I can now run through a multitude of alternatives with work in process, thereby giving me an expanded view of pathways that a painting can take. Erasing/deleting is much easier in light than in paint; thus, increasing the artist's power to integrate and solidify, the sense of 'art' is breathed into once lifeless and meaningless light. An image is created that transmit to the spectator the creator's thought and feelings, like any other medium of artistic expression.
"I believe a new aesthetic will emerge through the pioneering efforts of artists who attempt to create and relate to the machine. It is too powerful a tool to be merely a passing fad, or eventually discarded as just another design tool. Like any other medium, the essence of the material has its own intrinsic aesthetic qualities with which its disciples will acquire familiarity. With such developed sensitivity to the medium, works will elevate in cultural significance and become treasures to collect and entomb.
"The electronic-informational age is upon us. The world is smaller and linked by mega-corporations. Socioeconomic and political decisions are made quicker and fan out to affect those close, as well as abroad. Computers can become the medium that reflects this new corporate internationalism. Movies already play upon our imagination of surreal galactic fantasies. It is just a matter of time before all those who work in front of terminal workstations learn to appreciate the common graphic capabilities of their machines that know no physical or territorial boundaries. A new 'International Style' ('Pixelism'?) may be on the horizon by the turn of the century." (artist's statement for computer art exhibition at Shanghai State Art Museum, 1988). So much for the debate over "art" from/by the computer.
How was I, as an individual artist, able to make the transition into a computerized artist? The simple answer is that I have always protected a personality with cultural freedom. There is protection of the mind to not accept and become part of a subgroup's limiting traditional belief and value system. I struggled to extend my stay within the formal American educational system in order to establish a different point of view. I know how the conventional educator, psychologist, dentist, researcher, and artist think - for I am all of these. If you believe that the whole can be more than the sum of the parts, than maybe I have come close to my ideal of reliving a philosophy of the past - that of our idealized Renaissance Man. That philosophy of life is one of intellectual curiosity, of becoming acquainted and adept with many branches of knowledge, to be a generalist capable of making significant contributions to society through interdisciplinary training and activity. With such a frame of mind I did not fear the computer like most artists outside the computer graphics arena. It was exciting, it made me curious about the aesthetic experimental possibilities, it beckoned me to see what I could do to prove that real "art" could be woven out of the scattered mechanical bits of light. I did not hamper my open thinking by such unproductive questioning like "Is it Art?" It was the opportunity to enter the technological world of the future, learn a new visual language, a change to interact with a highly intelligent playmate. If, after trying it out, I found the computer not inspiring, I told myself I could always do everything else that I was already preoccupied with. When I first met the computer, I was already a full time dentist, a graduate student in sculpture, a painter and photographer, a gallery director and owner, and a part-time dancer. As things turned out, the computer became the crossroads for all my other art media efforts - through video camera digitization everything I did before in other media could be recycled and serve as the skin for a new form of conceptual art - Computer Art.
Besides a free and inquisitive mind nurtured by an extended tour of duty in higher education, a personal philosophy and definition of "art" plays a role in my computer art. Once an artist with no purpose for making art other than self expression, I enrolled into a three year doctorate program in search of the answer to "What is Art?" Included in that quest for personal insight was the experiment of installing a discotheque interior design of sight and sound into my private dental clinic. Through that internship in the study of the psychology of art, I learned much about the layman's reaction to the aesthetic stimulus. I learned how to target my artwork to people not usually affected with a behavioral response labeled "art appreciation." Coming into a place usually associated with anxiety and pain that was colored with the pleasures of nightclubbing disoriented patients. The visual and audio environment distracted the patient from what I had to do as a dentist. The results of such an "art installation in a commercial and clinical setting" on children is documented in a dental research publication by a psychiatrist. I received my Ph.D. in art psychology understanding the following things, that I would use for the rest of my life as a practicing artist:
Art is perceptual; it is psychological. The power of aesthetic perception is the interaction between the object and the beholder. Art, being psychological, includes both unconscious as well as conscious processes of the beholder. Developing this awareness and receptivity of the art object is called the "sensitivity" of the beholder. Art stimulates most intensely than commonplace objects of the world through its inclusion of metaphorical discoveries left free for a multi-interpretative response by the beholder. Art represents artifacts of past world realities and is a predictor of future changes of the evolving society, which lags behind the avant-garde in art in changing with the pressures of contemporary life. The development of a feeling of integration and unity and the attempt to change or expand the reality of the times seem to be common problems and pursuits for artists across specific times and cultures. An aesthetic model for relating the complex nature of the process of aesthetic perception can be heuristic in stimulating more new forms of art. There is a continuum of aesthetic perception, the best of which is given special reverence and identity as "art." Aesthetic perception can be fostered and discovered in real life situations instead of just within the limited context of art galleries and museums. Situations, besides just objects, can elicit an intense aesthetic response that characterizes our feelings of art, and thereby in its own manner, serve as stimuli for the appreciation of the aesthetic in our life experience.
Having such answered to myself that what is "art" is relative to one's mind-set of visual perception, I was ready to challenge the computer to make images worthy to be called art. The little pixels (squares) that bother other traditional artists, don't blind me from the fact that I can experience, as artist, a new imaginary world that extends beyond what I can do with other art media. Whether others "see" it as art is only a sign of the times. We live on the border of two great eras - the waning of the nationalistic Industrial Age and the dawn of the Global Village of the Informational Age. Beware of television entering your homes and minds. Along with computer designed printed advertisements of commercial products, its application of computer graphics bombard your eyes and mind with mediocrity. Commercial computer graphic rules, not fine arts. This shameless application of the infinite power of computer graphics has been the predominant example of computer imaging to Western people that most think such commercial art is all that can be. It has only been less than ten years that professional level computer graphics equipment have become cheap and convenient enough to trickle down from corporate profiteers to the common un-endowed artist. It has only been less than five years that the results of work by true and serious artists are starting to gain the attention of its society. It is despicable that after having been exposed to computer graphics applications everyday in a commercialized world for nearly twenty years, most Western people still cannot believe real art is possible from the computer. I call upon the great talents of the Chinese people to contribute to the revolution of educating the people of the world to raise their vision above their television sets. We pioneering serious computer artists must weather the intimation of those threatened by change from the new, for the new age, the next century, is before us. And the computer waits for soul to be breathed into its images by human beings competent for the task.
Introductory Glossary of Computer Graphics Words (for the Amiga computer)
monitor - video screen to display the electronic image
raster line - one horizontal line of pixels on the monitor screen
pixel - basic visual unit on the screen, l square
gradient fill - command that fills a drawn shape with a range of colors
range of colors - a group of colors that operate together
palette - colors selected to be used for an image; can include several ranges as subgroups of color of the palette
undo - be able to erase the last command executed from the screen
antialiasing - automatic blending of pixels to reduce color contrast between color borders of shapes drawn
mouse - hardware device used to instruct computer what to draw or paint
hardware - the machinery of computers, the physical equipment
software - the different programs that instruct the computer what to do
smear - a technique of the program to blend colors
perspective - three dimensional automatic calculation to change the apparent perspective of shapes and forms made by the artist
stencil - be able to use more than one screen of information at one time, allowing certain screen visual elements to show through the first one and combine together as a new composition
RGB sliders - method to visually vary the amount of red, green and blue light in a composite color, be able to mix color on screen
save - keep a copy of the picture on the screen unto a floppy disk for storage; picture can be reloaded unto the screen at later time
merge - have computer put two different pictures (screens) together into one new picture
symmetry - draw a line or picture and have it occur as multiples on other areas of the screen simultaneously
flip - turn the image horizontally or vertically on the screen
brush - the line or pictorial element s that the mouse can move on the screen and place in other areas as duplicates
cycle - automatic color changes of screen image or of drawing brush, like animation effect
font - English alphabets, different styles of the alphabet
airbrush tool - paint on monitor like a real airbrush with many pixels points at once
background - the full screen color before starting a picture
fill - place solid color into a drawn contour line figure or shape