The times we live in

Before I asked about what period of art we live at the moment, I should have just stopped there and do the thing I do (almost) the best; analyse. No wonder I have hard time to get an answer from art teachers and other experts; they’re too close. So, let’s take a lean back and look things from a wider perspective.

One thing that illustrates our time is that anyone can be considered as an artist and anyone can have their art out there. No longer is art made with age old time tested methods as it has been for some thousands of years as it has been digitalized. Our canvas is now the computer screen and our only tool is the mouse. Gentlemen, we live in the early days of Digital Art. Some of you might wonder where I pulled this from. Some of you already know where I’m going with this just by putting those words into form.

The birth of digital art can be traced to the 70’s when computers began to find their way to general population in form of few arcade machines and game consoles. As computing power grew and software engineering became more sophisticated, the visual look of the user interfaces began to allow pictorial representations of real life art. Pixel art, as we understand nowadays, was born within this early period, and it evolved at an astonishing rate. From suprematismic dots and characters we found ourselves looking at more abstract shapes and surreal representations of real world. In the 80’s pixel art had evolved with the hardware to similar level of fine arts, thou resolution was a big factor holding details back. Even then, somewhere around the end of the 80’s, we had people working with Amigas making pure digital art.

The 80’s also saw the birth of the Internet. BBS’ were filled with ASCII art as modern WWW system was under development. The 90’s were the time when WWW as we mostly use it with Internet browsers was born. This opened doors for total globalization, and at this point we need to regard the Internet as one huge stage, not limited by boundaries or nationalities.

The 90’s saw further standardization of PCs with few exceptions, which meant that technology could now unify large amounts of tools and resources under one or two general flags, mainly Windows and Apple’s Macintosh. Drawing tablets began to appear more in the general households and more advanced and easier to understand art programs were developed. The Internet opened a new possibility to showcase your art to the general public without much hassle. As the Internet grew larger towards the end of the 90’s, we saw the birth of Deviant Art in 2000.

The 2000’s has transformed how Internet works. Lost is the nostalgic sound of screeching modems and awesomely horrible mid-90’s web page design (thou some still survive.) Resolution has made pixel count nearly meaningless and technology almost allows us to draw whatever we want with our tablets, that now cost as little as 50€ or less. 100×100 picture might’ve been regarded as decent, now it’s common to see images with 5000×8000 resolution. We have image sizes that are larger than the hard drives of the time. It’s completely insane when you start comparing that you could put all of Atari 5200 into one image size-wise. The biggest thing is that everybody with a computer now can make art and review art. Art has become a common commodity. This doesn’t only apply to visual arts, but music and everything else as well. We could say that we are living in the early halcyon days of the Digital Arts in general.

The Internet has caused a massive flood in art, and the thinking of Everybody and everything can be art has been solidified in a completely different way that it used to be. Art has moved from being something that only certain people do to what everybody can do. DevArt users are instantly labelled as artists, thou the site is infamous on the quality of art it holds [and idiots. Subjective opinion.Editor] While the traditional fine arts are alive and kicking, the digital arts have become massively popular. We can find a twenty year old person doing insane digital paintings that rival any of the classical masterpieces. It seems that as art has become a commodity, the need for masters has been removed. We have no longer use for people like Da Vinci now that we can find similar level of works and ideas from DevArt. A lot of you will hate this idea, but it’s true. The thing is, there’s so many people there that pin pointing that one person is like trying to shoot a specific star in the sky blindfolded.

I’ve discussed about plagiarism in modern days, and the Internet society we have now only raises it further. Will we meet a day when originality is removed completely from culture and ripping off is completely accepted outside their own industries? I hope this won’t happen, as it would mean a crude death for anything you consider art, and to culture in general.

If we decide that anyone and anything can be art, then we need to also accept that anyone and anything is art. This is not negotiable. Then art has truly become a common commodity much like shit and there is no more reason to glorify it. It’s just art now. No bells or whistles, no more pulling punches. We’re in Art country now, there’s no stopping here. You need to ask yourself if it is the price you are willing to pay that ideology. Art for the masses has been passed and realized; now we have that the masses are the artist.

In the future when they’re looking back the change of the millennium, they will see the rise of information technology and digital arts. How the Internet will evolve in the following ten years is a big question that we will just have to see. It’s a ripe to for someone to start a proper art movement through the Internet.

Let’s finish this post with a much more lighter tone, and hope that I won’t touch art for a while. We need something moody, but still something to get us going…

3-2-1 LET’S GO

Anonymous Artwork

Putting your name into a drawing and posting it into the Internet is nothing special. DeviantArt, PIXIV and numerous other sites had their glory days some years ago, even thou the userbase in these sites keeps growing day by day. Yours truly too has an old account in DA but let’s not get into that.

Generally speaking using an artist name and holding that persona while showcasing your artwork is easy. You out it up, people see it, some may favourite it, some may comment it and some may eve download it. But that particular image won’t ever change its origin, or neither does its name. Some may steal it and repost it somewhere else for three or four people to see and that’s that. It’s somewhat clinically clean operation and stays so. In the end, you have all the power to your picture (that you most likely watermarked as well) until somebody steals or traces it.

What about if you release a picture without a name somewhere only for few people to see? Then you’d see it again somewhere else. And again. And again. And again.
I’m not talking about meme creation or anything as stupid and childish. I’m talking real work of art that you have lost all control over. People take interest in this image, find their own meaning behind it and add their own emotion to it, and they also might change it. It’s not clinically clean, as the same file suddenly might have numerous different names; RinGrave.jpg, BadEnd.jpg, TrueEndToAllRoutes.jpg, GraveTears.jpg or even 1326451374.jpg.

And then it might hit you; the image you’ve lost control off has become more popular and most viewed image you’ve ever done. NOBODY knows your name or where it came. The image just exists and exists in different form to every person there who sees it. For the first time you’ve actually might have done something that people actually find interesting, and not the DA or PIXIV way where rabid fanbase likes and adds every picture of Sephiroth or some other brooding asshole to their collection. No, this time this picture you let go has actually become more than you even knew.

Few moments later you’ll realize how shoddy work it is. The lines are all off. The faces might’ve been better. The dialogue could have had some more thought into them. The font could’ve been better. Actually, the whole thing could’ve been better.

It doesn’t matter any more how much you’d contemplate the matter. It’s out there. People will see the same errors and bad lines, but the same people will see the values and strokes you never could see. It’s perhaps an anonymous artwork, but most at times it works for the better. No name attached, no explanations, no nothing. Just the picture and what it means. In a way, you’ve created an Internet graffiti, a picture that is there, and perhaps you and few other people know how has drawn it.

Very few people in general ever get popular or find work in DA or similar. People who actually work with certain companies post their images at said sites, but majority of their success comes from their portfolios and real life work they’ve done. UDON actually has their own DA account, in which variety of artists working with them post their pictures. The guy who worked with Mega Man Zero games has an account in PIXIV but barely posts anything. He also works in comics at Comic Markets and has his own website, so PIXIV’s the least of his worries.

With anonymous artwork you won’t make a name yourself, but you can bring something special to people if the time and your picture is right. Actually, this method is one way to become a professional artist, as you can test the waters on what the audience wants and likes. After decent amount of testing you might find that one particular thing the audience likes and then tag it with your name. However, most artists won’t dot his because it demands work.

It’s an interesting phenomena overall. There’s more positive input and actual discussion on anonymous artwork than on named pieces in general. Most of them are hidden from the general view or from the “hi-end” subcultures of the Internet. Most of these images stop circulating pretty soon, but some get stuck and never really die down and some attain a sort of cultural status. Well, as cultural status you can get in the Internet.