The Aesthetic Evolution of Digital Sculpture(con't)
Digital sculpture -- A Trojan Horse?
Comprising a variety of different forms and activities,
the term digital or virtual sculpture (not to mention the terms infosculpture,
robosculpture or telesculpture), is particularly encompassing and consequently
might be slightly confusing for those who aren't immersed in the digital
Taking a look at the respective works of digital sculptors,
one immediately recognizes the hybrid nature of the art form. Some of
the artists use various digital technologies to create physical objects
while others design sculptures that exclusively exist in the virtual realm.
Robert Michael Smith
feels that "most
of us have come to accept that digital sculpture refers to objects manufactured
through CAD/CAM, CNC milling and/or Rapid Prototyping processes while
virtual sculpture refers to work functioning within various venues, such
as cyberspace/Virtual Reality/3D Animation." The boundaries are fluid
and Smith is comfortable with the title "digital sculptor" as a shorthand
explanation of his experiments with digital technologies for sculpture
design, production, presentation, and broadcasting.
|I do think it is important to
distinguish between work that is strictly "computer-based" (as with
any CAD object, VRML, etc.) and is experienced THROUGH the computer
screen (Virtual Sculpture) versus objects that have been produced using
computer-controlled manufacturing machines (CNC, STL, LOM, FDM, etc.)
and are experienced THROUGH the body (Digital Sculpture). - Dan
Most of the sculptors don't feel that the label "digital" distracts
from the specifics of the art they are creating -- as Keith
Brown points out, "art should, in any case, transcend the medium"
-- and seem to understand themselves primarily as sculptors minus classifying
additions such as computer, virtual or digital. Smith, for example,
sees himself as an object maker who happens to make virtual sculptures
for experimental concept/content development, and Michael
Rees emphasizes that the minute he would see another valuable
way to conduct meaning in his sculpture, he would employ it, be it computer-related
|I don't feel that the term digital
sculpture, which is still developing associations, has evolved to the
point of implying limits to its possible applications. - Derrick
It may very well be that there is less confusion on the
creator than the reception end. Reductionist effects of the label electronic
art in general may be traced in the writings of journalists and critics
and sometimes lead to confusion in institutions, as Christian
He recounts that his request for support from the French Cultural Ministry
for a piece utilizing 3D and rapid prototyping led to a discussion with
a friendly delegate who wasn't sure if the Multimedia Committee or the
Sculpture Committee would be the responsible department. Lavigne made
a convincing argument that he was going to create a physical object
-- in his humble opinion, a sculpture. He compares the label "digital
sculpture" to a Trojan horse that allows to parade original art works
in front of the media or industry which don't fully understand the pieces'
depth. Had Einstein resembled Marilyn Monroe, as Lavigne puts it, there
would have been more interest in physics in the schools and on television.
I'm no more enthusiastic about the other terms floated in this forum...
cybersculpture et al. Each seems too protracted... guilty of a certain
"clubbishness" I think we need to avoid. The chief advantage of "digital"
is that it connotes something meaningful to most people who read newspapers,
watch TV, and surf the Net. - Dan Collins
Brown puts it, "technique always has been and probably always will
be confused with art," and tendencies to evaluate and define art via the
technology employed to create it may lead to diametrically opposed effects.
On one end of the critical scale, digital art is occasionally dismissed
as "technology on display." On the other end, there is a danger of confusing
the "WOW" factor produced by new technologies with a unique artistic vision.
Mix our gullibility with our perennial fascination with widgets, and
you begin to understand why so many people have become so fascinated
with psychoanalyzing the latest fire that is "technology." - Dan
|Any attempt to approach art through
technology may be ultimately futile because in today's information-based
and technologized societies, it is virtually impossible to separate technology
from anything surrounding us -- "we have a frictionless system of information
retrieval, display, dissemination, and exchange at our fingertips," as Dan
Collins puts it.
|Both Smith and Collins find that
they have received mostly positive exposure in response to their use of
digital technologies, which have the potential to open up the territory
of sculpture to a dialog with other art disciplines involved in similar
core issues and to encourage a broad interdisciplinary conversation outside
of art altogether.
Rees' experiences have led him to emphasize the content issues of
his sculptures rather than to talk the revolution of their manufacture (although
he is quite taken by it) and Derrick Woodham
feels that the reception the technology itself is receiving from some of
his peers needs positive modification. He consequently strives to encourage
a more constructive engagement by offering support for their involvement.
I really don't mind that my recent work may be defined, and to an
extent determined by others, in relation to the technology that I
use. In the end, it's what one does with the technology that counts.
In this way it doesn't really differ from any other means by which
one might determine, evaluate, or attempt to define art. - Keith
Robert Michael Smith
|None of the artists, however, feels
that the reception of their art is predominantly defined by the technology
they are using. After all, none of them has discovered sculpture through
the digital medium -- working outside of the technology for a number of
years has already established some reception for their work independently
of the reference frame of digital or virtual sculpture.
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