April 2, 2012
Rodney Chang

 

 

MY, HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED

 

 

 

      When I started pioneering digital art using personal computers in 1985, things were different.  Some of my most exciting moments as a digital artist occurred while using the Amiga 1000 with just 1 MB of ram and the 16 colors of Deluxe Paint, the first product of Electronic Arts.  Resolution was only 600x400 which inspired me to dub my pixilated works “Pixelism.”   Today imagery of digital cameras are 14 megabytes and above.  Memory size and complexity of graphic imagery has been vastly improved through engineering, decreased costs and speed of screen-loading from either a computer or the Internet.

      It appears the days of creating new (digital) art for online cyberspace as a mission to build global culture is over.  Even among the Webists, a group of artist dedicated to this effort, new online exhibits are few and far between.  Pygoya, founder of the group, continues to pursue this goal with energy and enthusiasm at his Truly Virtual Web Art Museum of Lastplace.com.  This loss of interest in building inventory of online perpetual art is because of at least three reasons.  Video capacity of the Internet, started with Utube, is now ubiquitous online.  Like still photography, the coming of cinema and film took away much of the interest for photography – as well as for painting.  Secondly, the initial new visual arena, the Internet is less exploratory and now more commercial and utilitarian.  Instead of going online to seek global culture, most now use the Internet as a virtual shopping center and paperless newspaper (and in one research, for
American males, mainly as a pornographic resource).  Thirdly, recent social networking sites capture much online time of the younger generations.  With continuing intergration of digital devices, such as cell phones, e-pads, PCs, laptops, digital cameras, sound systems, office and household electronics, and soon television, the Internet’s role in providing a new platform for fine arts continues to diminish in overall virtual space, relevance and  public interest.

      Disappointingly, it appears the advent of the Internet is not to be the savior of the traditional fine arts, in which I also allocate the digital medium at this point in time.  In fact, the Web has accelerated the speed as well as volume of “information” for the individual; multi-taskers work harder and harder to keep up and not be overwhelmed with their workload and to maintain and upgrade their enslaving devices.  They have less and less time to sit still, to “smell the roses,” and to absorb the content of an enriched still image, as they sprint through life to keep up with the times, now measured in nano-seconds and “4G” transmission rates.  Sadly, most have no time to “see,” or just look, anymore.   The Web has become a place inhabited by shoppers, flirters, voyeurs, children and adolescents connecting with their friends, thieves out to steal or commit fraud, special interest groups with their own agendas, predators, and hackers.

     For myself, I still enjoy creating digital art that expresses my life.  Posting the new works online continues building content for my virtual museum.  By comparing works over the years, viewers can identify both the changes in my technological tools as well as my personal interests in subject matter.  I am no longer dedicated simply to my high tech devices but now embrace whatever media I choose to combine to make personal statements.   Besides the mouse and my digital camera, I now find it refreshing to once more feel free to  “work with my hands”- as a sculptor,  painter, as well as digital artist.