On Digital Art

Digital Art offers up a lot of unusual names for things, none the least of which is the term "Giclée". "Giclée" (pronounced "zhi-clay") is a French word that translates "to spray forcefully, to squirt". The term was applied to digital printmaking to differentiate ordinary desktop "inkjet" printing from a more refined and durable form of digital print intended specifically for Fine Art display and collecting. "Inkjet" became "Giclée" to help market the Iris printer and the prints that were made using high resolution print heads and traditional art archival papers. The word “Giclée” has been the subject of controversy, and a variety of terms, such as “fine art digital prints”, or “digigraph”, have been suggested as more suitable definitions The computer has made it possible to make high quality images "in-the-computer," and to print these on art quality materials - rag papers and canvas among others. A close parallel exists in music; for instance, digital code is used to compose, store, produce and reproduce music - as on CDs. Some artists use "natural media" software to paint in the digital space of the computer, simulating the effects of watercolor, drawing and painting in various traditional media. Digital media makes possible reproductions of works initially realized in other media - such as oil painting, etching or photography. An image resulting from such a process is distinguished from an image wholly created in a digital medium and reproduced digitally. A digitally created and composed image qualifies as an original print.

Today there are an ever-increasing number of printers, inksets and substrates, which produce "Giclée" quality prints. Today's research shows that most pigmented ink sets produce prints that remain colorfast between 75 to 200 years and specially designed inkjet printers made by Hewlett-Packard, Epson, Lexmark, Roland, Canon, Colorspan ... are using these inks to create giclée prints of outstanding and long lasting beauty. With the possibilities offered by the computers (Apple, PC, Linux), peripherals (scanners, printers, digital cameras), and software (for example: Adobe Photoshop, Corel/ MetaCreations Painter, Adobe Illustrator), available in the early twenty-first century, those persons competent with these various new and ever-evolving technologies can make and/or alter images in ways never before available -- to anyone. Many artists and art critics agree, once visual information is converted into binary code (those 0s & 1s) it is possible to produce original images that are as visually and aesthetically stunning as those produced through any other medium. Digital imaging is simply another way to communicate visually and artistically and perhaps the one of means to carry us into brave new worlds in the arts.

In my estimation, the core question is not at all "What do we do about computer/digital work?" Perhaps it might more productively be phrased, "How can digital be incorporated into what we already know how to do?" We all need make no mistake in understanding what digital has already wrought: a new era is here and it IS revolutionary, unprecedented and marvelously powerful. Even so, digital technology, taken as a whole, is nothing more, or less, than the tool(s) we make of it. With recognition by museums, galleries, collectors, educational institutions, "digital" becomes simply one more way to create art. It is not better because digital computer technology was involved, nor is it worse; it may be different. Art uses but transcends its crafts, tools and techniques.


Information obtained from following sources:

Mel Strawn- “About Digital Arts,” May 15, 2001

JD Jarvis (www.dunkingbirdproductions.com)- “What’s in a name?-The truth about Giclée”

Dr. John Antoine Labadie - “Some thoughts on IT in 2001: In the arts ... and beyond” article published in the Museum of Computer Art (www.museumofcomputerart.com)

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