In a world where just about everything seems to be computer-related, it appears almost ‘natural’ that at some point, these fabulous machines that enable us to keep track of our schedules, stay connected with others, purchase products and services in the convenience of our home or office, even work from home eliminating the need for long commutes and, often, running our entire lives, would have to cross path with the finest forms of artsin the ergonomic sort of way and would have something to contribute to it.
Indeed, it was just a matter of time before computers, which are now being used by the vast majority of us, would be used by artist as a new tool to enhance their artworks, broadening the spectrum with new artistic possibilities – something almost impossible to envision before the birth of computers.
Before we go any further, you should know that the term ‘computer art’ does not refer to a specific art style but solely to the instrument; that is, computers is the necessary element that characterizes computer art.
Contrary to classical art, which looks back on thousands of years of history, computer art is a relatively young activity, still in its early stages of development. Despite computer art and posters can now be admired and purchased in many different places, for the early pioneers of computer art, this was more like a dream than a tangible reality.
Art experts divide computer art into three major phases. The first phase goes from 1956 – which marks the beginnings of computer art experiments by pioneer Herbert Franke – until 1986 – when artist Andy Warhol made a series of works with the Commodore Amiga, and also it was the year in which Photoshop was written. During this phase, the writing of computer programmes was central to most of the work done.
In the Europe of the late 1960s, artists influenced by the Constructivist tradition, including Edward Zajec, Vera Molnar, Manuel Barbadillo, and Manfred Mohr, were the first to use computers for artistic ends. In the 1970s, we find Laposky, Franke and Whitney, who were interested in artistic forms deriving from simple mathematical elements. Other pioneers of digital art were not primarily artists, but their visual explorations were critical to the emergence of computer art.
The second phase, often referred to as ‘The Paintbox Era’ extended from 1986 to 1996. During this period, art software slowly became available, luring more and more artists with the possibility to create works without programming.
The main software that emerged during this period was the Paint program, underpinned by affordable computers and devices such as the scanner and film recorder. Some artists from this phase include William Latham, Barbara Nessim, Paul Coldwell, and James Faure-Walker, among others.
The third phase or ‘Multimedia Era’, goes from 1996 until the present. Our era characterizes for the growing availability of Internet access and interactive technology, which resulted in new interactive and online art forms. An important name from this era is Kerry John Andrews.
One example of such art form online is label designs for products such as weight loss pills like green coffee extract. Indeed these weight loss supplements bottles are very well designed. Talking about losing weight and nice bodies, another similar modern art form is photoshop retouching for celebrities. Sometimes it is so exaggerated that everyone can notice though.
Art, as a form of communication, has a lot to do with different means of expressing what the man wishes the world to know. That said, computers – as a tool that extends the man’s capabilities of expression – have done a fine job enhancing these capabilities, also making an important contribution to modern art. In our days, art and computers cohabit hand-in-hand with one another. What keeps them together is, unsurprisingly, the man.