It’s been a real journey, that’s for
sure. When I started creating
digital art there were no personal computers or hard drives,
no commercial software programs,
no scanners, and no digital cameras.
I had to invent some of the analog
systems that allowed me to manipulate images through various devices,
mostly using wires and knobs.
not? Are they
in a not-so-friendly world?
images, do they
hold any value? Art was special
years ago because it was original.
Now that everything can be copied,
does it hold the same importance?
The evolution of digital technology has most certainly changed the
face of commerce. In the area of art,
everyone has a computer on their
desk, and most designers and artists
have Adobe Photoshop.
In the early days, few people had
access to computer systems. They
were only available at research
laboratories and chances are those
Time on these
either had to
have a pre-conceived idea of what
you were trying to achieve, or work
fast in “trial and error” mode.
Laurence Gartel, Coney Island Baby, 1999. Gartel First Studio,
Experimental Telerion Center, NY.
Back in the Day
Before the personal computing
revolution, one had to be skillful
in manipulating the hardware in
order to produce anything. Then the
aesthetic had to be there, as in “will
this interest someone or not?” “Is
the image arresting?” “Is it thought-provoking?” There were a lot of
variables in the early days. But
indeed, my dear colleague Nam June
Paik taught me to think outside the
box and push the limits on what
may not have been there before. To
create something new and unique
was always the goal.
Alas, our whole society today is
technology-based. It is part of our
daily world. Back in 1975 life was
quite different. No Internet. No
immediate correspondence beyond
the telephone. Information and its
access were quite limited. You had
to rely strictly on your imagination
being in real time. Today, when you
forget something you can type it
into a search engine and immediately retrieve the answer.
Along with opening new opportunities, the Internet has created a
very competitive world. We are still
dealing with the ramifications of
all this. Are e-mail correspondences
printed fairly well, but there was no
spirit or soul in the work. There was
little in the picture to ponder, question, or engage the viewer in any
interaction. It is very possible that
the lack of audience participation
in any work of art is considered to
be boring. More than anything else,
a work must capture its viewer in
order to be deemed worthy.
I recall a very old Pablo Picasso
painting of a guitar on which the
artist put a lit-
tle bit of string.
It was so bril-
liant and subtle
that it made
me stand and
gaze in wonder.
is when an artist takes a different
approach, another direction, and
does things differently than most.
In my estimation, it’s the combination of things in a unique juxtaposition that encourages new ideas and
Today there are 10 mega pixel
cameras that cost less than a
1. 4 mega pixel camera did ten
years ago. The question is,
what can you do with it?
Is New Always Better?
Today computer systems and memory are inexpensive. Today there are
10 mega pixel cameras, that cost
less than a 1. 4 mega pixel camera
did ten years ago. The question is,
what can you do with it? Where’s
Today I saw a show of digital
prints by an artist who will go
unnamed. They were all nature
shots, and, granted, they were
Laurence Gartel is an author and artist
who has been working with digital art for
more than thirty years. email@example.com