Volume 5, Number 2 Septemeber 2014

Dangerous Perceptions Part 1

I have in recent years I noticed a developing trend, or in the vernacular of today’s video/audio speak, what is “trending” during art exhibitions. This trend seems to be placing a greater emphasis on the importance on the artist’s ability to create an art object or work on the technical prowess of that artist. The danger here as I see it, is not the creative ability of the said artist but rather on his/her use of said technology to create the work. I shall explain, I have over the last 5-8 years been asked hundreds of times if my work was done with a computer and a CNC machine. CNC stands for computer numerical control. The CNC works on the Cartesian coordinate system (X, Y, Z) for 3D motion control. Parts of a project, or the whole project can be designed in a computer with a CAD/CAM program, and then cut automatically using a router or other cutters to produce a finished part or product.

The viewer it seems, has become so absorbed with all the aspects of the technical world and all it’s permutations they seem to have lost the ability to understand that creativity is a human characteristic. Artistic creativity is not a CAD/CAM program. Granted, technology and all that that word encompasses can be a valuable asset to an artist, but it is the artist’s imagination that is the impetus for the work.

I have often been asked why I have not used a CNC machine, “since I could create multiple copies very easily, and therefore reduce the retail price point of the art making it more accessible to a broader client base”. I am dumbstruck by this

simplistic mentality. Must we reduce everything to a common level? Is the appreciation and success of work to be based upon its’ availability to be acquired by the masses? My issue with this line of thought is that an original idea has value in its’ uniqueness, in my opinion there is no value in art that can be reproduced in multiples that can extend to infinitude. My colleagues have addressed similar issue with regard to paintings generated on a computer.

In the past, reproductions were limited to the lifespan of the reproductive elements used, such as, lithograph plates, and casting molds. These forms of replication had a limited lifespan and would degrade with use due to the nature of the mediums used. Therefore the greater the number of reproductions the more the quality is degraded with each copy. With computers and technology, these issues have been made moot.

Does the future hold promise for the artist or are ‘Technological Artworks’ going to be the accepted norm. I firmly believe that artist must remain true

to their ideas and these ‘technologies’ are TOOLS to be used by the artist, as the means to an end, NOT the end itself. I believe the artist must see this as an opportunity, and challenge the tide of normalization that seems to be gaining acceptance with the media and public. Use the tools that are available but never loose sight of the fact it is the artist, not the tools, that add value to the work.

Never discount the imagination of the artist, without imagination there is no art. In the next issue I will address my concerns about 3D printing and it’s impact on the art world.

  Dennis Hoyt