May 24, 2009
Dear Professor Simon Erohin, (doing research on digital art and Webism)
Yes, I have done much digital-only artwork. In fact, when I first converted to computers in 1984 (I was at the time a bronze sculptor), I was a dedicated "Purist" in the yet accepted art medium. I only used software to experiment and "discover" new art. I called myself a "computer artist" and my work "computer art." I formed the Hawaii Computer Art Society in 1985. We had a 10 year show at Hawaii's Kauai Art Museum to celebrate our 10th anniversary as local computer artists. Then the club started changing. New members wanted to change the name to "Hawaii Digital Art Society" as the word "digital" back then was less offensive to fine artists than "computer" (machine) art. The new members ousted me and other old timers. But then I eventually also called my work "digital art" as the word "digital" became identified with the high tech cultural revolution going on around the world. So I guess I was "digital artist" from 1994-1997. Then when I went online in 1997, I declared my work "cyberart," different from "digital art" because cyberart related to the new online "cyberculture." At the same time I launched my Webism manifesto, still in virtual cyberspace at www.lastplace.com/page48.htm. I declared "Webism" a new "-ism" of art; a new art movement, one that existed in its own virtual space outside brick n' mortar galleries and museums, one that was colonizing the Internet "global village." "Webism" became active in 2003 when it was discovered by Ingrid Kamerbeek of Germany. With her leadership, we founded the "Webist" group at her Web site. Applicants had to read my page 48 and agree to the manifesto, in order to be accepted into the group. So in 2003 till the present, I call myself a "Webist" and my online art "Web art," not "cyberart." However, when I exhibit off-line in galleries, I call my work "cyberart" or "cyberpaintings." My work was solely digital medium from 1985 to 1990. Thereafter I went multi-media to integrate digital with other forms of art, for experimentation as well as integration. Most importantly, I accepted the fact that mixing digital with other media removed the somewhat sterile, mechanical, mathematic feeling from the images. With mixed media via scanning and photography, the digital image was spiced with a made-by-man feeling that gave it a craft oriented feeling. I found this mixing of media to be more acceptable to gallery audiences.
I hope this bit of personal history helps.
I included in this email an image (Interface) done during my 80s Purist digital period. This particular image was done with IBM AT hardware and Lumena software, back then the state of the art for graphic software in the U.S.A. The system cost $30,000 and it had less than 1 megabyte of processing ram! I also did much work with the Amiga computer. It broke the graphic PC barrier of power by having 1 MB of ram. Most of the work in the catalog for the Shanghai Art Museum (1988) was done with these 2 early (and primitive) personal computers. I have sent a larger scanned file of "Interface" in case you want to use this image for your publication.
For examples of more purely digital artwork by me, please review
Please notice "Lover" at lower right of this Web page is a variation of a Picasso artwork. This Picasso digital series was shocking to the local Hawaii audience as the computer artworks "looked like" and "recalled into memory" past famous fine art by the master Picasso. It was also political, as I was demonstrating to local artists who criticized me for using the computer that I indeed could generate, digitally, images that yelled out "I am fine arts!" More digital art can be seen by using the links below on this Web page.
I had a great victory in 1986 by being the first computer artist juried into the annual "Artists of Hawaii" exhibition at the local art museum. The of course I was "sitting on top of the world" when I got the solo exhibition at the Shanghai Art Museum in 1988, making me the first digital artist to exhibit in all of China and the first in one of their top museums. This was indeed a documented big victory for computer art!
"Assembly" is a historical digital art piece! -