Appreciate computer art as a true art form

by Leonard Cachola

Like comic books and comic strips, computer art has had to face an uphill battle in terms of acceptance as an art form.

One problem, especially one which artists who use 3D programs such as Lightwave or 3D Studio face, is how unrealistic art created in these programs looks.

Take, for instance, a television show such as Space: The Final Frontier. The spaceships look obviously fake and computer-generated, which makes it difficult to become engulfed in the world created in this show. Hand-made models created for 1980's Battlestar Galactica series looked much better than current technology.

Some of the blame may be put on the developers of said products. Computer artists are really slaves to the programs they use, limited by the capabilities of each program rather than by their imagination.

What ends up happening is the artist is forced to learn several different programs to get the look he or she wants. Otherwise, the work becomes nothing but a show-off piece for the developer of that software as opposed to a true representation of what the artist wanted to say.

However, developers aren't the only ones to blame for much of the bland-looking computer art available, much of which can be found browsing the World Wide Web.

Part of the problem with computer art is the subject matter, which all goes back to the artist.

Most computer art deals with supposedly realistic renderings of inanimate objects, such as a room, a building or some other similar structure. What ends up happening with this work is what happens with still-life paintings of fruit; they all come out boring, lacking imagination and inspiration.

However, even the more imaginative pieces come up short in terms of concept. Oftentimes, pieces are ruined by artists who become consumed with showing off what a computer can do. One only has to look as far as the video In the Mind's Eye to see what is wrong with computer art.

One of the most difficult concepts for computer artists to get across to other people is how much work is involved with the creation of their work. The general populace doesn't understand much of the work behind computer art. Most think the artist types a few words into the computer, the computer does all the work, and voila! A piece is born. However, that's hardly the case.

Like any tool an artist uses, the computer takes time and effort to master. The artist must know its limitations in addition to its capabilities. After all, nobody learns to master oils in a day. It takes time, effort and, most of all, the desire to learn.

However, computer art is gaining acceptance. There are a growing number of classes and schools becoming available around the country delving into the subject. It's probably just a matter of time before we see virtual museums and computer art history courses.

Cachola is a senior English major who needs to get out more often.

Visit The Daily Cougar