November 2, 2007



        New Icy Extension of Cyber-painting


                                       By Rodney E.J. Chang



     After attaining my doctorate in Art Psychology with a focus on creativity as applied to fine art, it was easy to consider any material fair game for the making art.  Thus when the personal computer came along in the mid-eighties, it was easy to jump ship from the traditional media of acrylic painting, bronze sculpture and free form ceramics.  I remember well the excitement of visualizing imagery with hues of photonic light – it felt like magic -exhibiting and becoming a part of the first generation of digital artists.  Laurence Gartel, a leader in this pioneering group, is gracious to select my work for a New York 2007 exhibition that honors those whose works he considers significant to this late 20th Century art movement.  As for my own work, I dubbed early art on low resolution computers as “Pixelism,” and later the more refined imagery by 1990s and later computers as “Cyber-Paintings.”   With a Masters in Painting before earning the Ph.D. in Art Psychology, it wasn’t long before I found myself investigating the interface between traditional paint media and the digital image.  “Cyberart” became “Paint Outs” (as in “print outs”).  Then with delegation of rendering the digital image into oils on canvas, the hybrid artwork was labeled “Cyber-Painting.”  As part of my sequential process of producing art, the paintings on canvas are then redigitized with a digital camera, then manipulated once again by me, to create a final work of art - as a limited edition Giclee print.

      Unfortunately there is still global resistance to the digital art form by the traditional art world.  Cultural change takes time.  Older generations have to make way for new collectors, weaned in the present Information Age, of which the Internet is its Mecca.  Here, online, I declared the new art movement of Webism (2003), or art made intentionally for online exhibition.  Hence the digital art remains pure, in its own digital realm.  Today a global group of artists call themselves the Webists, led by co-founder Ingrid Kamerbeek of Bavaria, Germany. At this writing, there are about 75 members, the majority Europeans.

     This old fashion medium bigotry that scapegoats digital art strengthens my resolve to fight and resist.  I will not let 20-plus years of fine art creation go to waste.  I will fight along with other digital artists for our “moment under the sun” - as well as earned place in the history of contemporary art.  So any shape and form that furthers my experimental manipulations of the digital tools is embraced to further mock the limitation of art appreciation of the new by the aging, yet powerful, art establishment. 

     Hey art is art; a nice picture is a nice picture.  If the image speaks to you, it works. So what if its origin is digital.  How bad is that? For example, if the artist using it for self-expression and communication, instead of say, - ice cream!  You say “What?  Ice cream?”  Yes, and for digital art’s sake.  How so?  Well, my premise is that anything can be used to make art. Remember the Found Art movement and “assemblages” of the past century?  Marcel Duchamp placed a urinal in the gallery context and it became art.  Pablo Picasso welded bicycle handlebars to a metal bicycle seat, transforming it into sculpture that depicted a bull’s head.  So why not ice cream?  And to serve digital ends, here’s my reasoning, intent, and motivation to explore the results. 

     I manipulate different colors (flavors) of ice cream with brush and palette knife, of course in a freezing environment, such as in the dead of winter in New England.  I apply the material to a template with a mesh to affix the ice cream in the designed composition.  Then a digital photo is made to input the “painting” made with ice cream into the computer.  The essence or aesthetic quality of the material is captured.  I then manipulate the original photo with graphic software. After such graphic editing with an artistic eye, the digital image is painted with oil unto canvas.  Thereby, through the new artistic power and tools of high technology, as a painter, I can translate ice cream into works in oil.  Believe it or not, it’s going to be very "cool” – as well as a historic moment in fine art.