PYGOYA'S ART IN
THE CONTEXT OF EVOLVING ART HISTORY DURING THE INFORMATION AGE
by Larry Lovett, M.S.Ed in Art Education,
the book, PYGOYA OIL CYBER-PAINTINGS
VOL. II (2010)
Stats For Free
(uploaded January 26, 2014)
It is all around us – the creeping takeover of every facet of modern
life. With the Internet, there is no
escape. Even in remote regions such
as the Amazon River, wireless connectivity via satellite brings the online
global village potentially to any spot on the planet.
We have embarked into the Information Age at the turn of the millennium.
So is the resistant stronghold of traditional visual arts under
siege? To be present and therefore
relevant online, major past historical works have to be digitalized to be
uploaded to web sites. In other
words, masterpieces such as that of Picasso are represented by productions composed of digital pixels. Museums
globally upload their collections as catalogs of their acquisitions as well as
to generate interest in their “brick and mortar” existence, limited to their
Digital artists have taken flight to the Internet, having lost the battle
for credibility of their medium in the physical world.
Not much ground has been taken away from the traditional media, such as
painting and sculpture, since the personal computer first became available as a
new art tool in the mid-1980s. But
with the advent of the Internet, artists like Rodney Chang of Honolulu, realized
that the playing ground for visibility and promotion of their work was leveled
online. Pioneers like himself
established web sites to present, in front of the world view, their visual
galleries and museums. His “Truly
Virtual Web Art Museum” at LastPlace.com was among the first (1997) virtual
museums to seriously attempt to build a “permanent collection” online – of
Along with Ingrid Doyle of Bavaria, Germany, Chang launched an online
manifesto that professes digital art, made for and displayed on the
Internet, as a new art movement. Webism
is defined as “online art that is conceived and displayed on the Internet for
the sake of contributing and building a global cyber-culture.”
Digital art is identified as the primary art form of the movement since
the medium is consistent with its vehicle of display – electronic and digital.
The complete manifesto is found at www.lastplace.com/webism.htm.
It continues to recruit a band of artists who champion the same cause of
democratization of art that knows no borders or the limited perspective of
inbred nationalism. Webists
consider themselves free spirits who create for all mankind with the hope to
promote understanding and harmony among all men.
Noble goals for idealistic artists.
Rodney Chang jumped ship from bronze sculptor to digital mouse
manipulator in 1984. It has been over twenty years since his first attempt to
make “real art” with the limited color technological capacity of his beloved
1000. Back then he worked with the
restrained color palette of 16 colors and monitor resolutions of low visual
resolution that invited ridicule by "real artists."
with the knack of turning limitation to opportunity, Chang dubbed his early
blocky images Pixelism. In
fact his '80s works magnified the pixels and “jaggies” effect to identify an
early digital style. As he
predicted back then, today's software and hardware produce imagery that
convincingly simulates traditional art media, such as watercolor, oil, pencil,
and even stain glass. At the beginning one had to be a competent artist to
simulate traditional art media with pixels.
Today the effects are built into the sophisticated programs.
From the beginning, Chang was most concerned with the contribution digital imagery could make to the field of painting. He pursued this special interest by creating digital imagery with a painterly quality and outputting his “design” works on the monitor as actual painted canvases. Chang's sensitivity of the painterly quality possible through manipulation of software effects is grounded in the attainment of a master's degree in painting back in 1975 (University of Northern Illinois). Since he spent all of his creative time on the computer, he early on decided he could not advance in image development by sacrificing time to render his monitor images into actual paint. Plus painstakingly reproducing what he had already conceived as completed works of digital art was not compatible with his personality. So, as part of his artistic process, he has been commissioning artisans, great painters in their own right, to render his digital into oil. He recruits “only the best in the world.” Over 200 canvases were completed, at a cost of over $85,000 including warehouse storage over the years.
The works in this folio book of art is the culmination of this process.
To succeed in building this collection of hybrid works (digital imagery
rendered to actual paint on canvas), Chang had to reject many traditional
notions of art, such as authorship and identification of a sole medium.
The artist has evolved to a new conceptualization of understanding of
these works of art. First, there is
NO artist to take credit for authorship. Instead
they are results from a team concept. The
major player is not Chang, but is identified as the computer!
Yes, the origin of the imagery has to be conceded to the awesome image
generating capability of the machine.
Hardware engineers and software programmers are both given credit for the
advance of the complexity of the images over the years.
Unlike the traditional artist, Chang
considers himself team leader, project manager, or art Conceptualist (a
Post-Modern art movement).
As an “experimental- art psychologist” with a Ph.D., he mines the
potential of computer systems to ferret out imagery.
Much of what is harvested is through mindless image processing, many
times without him in attendance. Many
a night Chang has left several PCs running all night, instructed to do automatic
image processing, with graphic parameters selected by the artist.
Random effect is insured by image generation not being hindered by the
limiting human decision as to what is historically considered to be “good”
art. Then, upon critical review, all
image processing results are juried. Most
(in the hundreds) are deleted except for a few.
These survivors of the process, in turn, are digitally reworked, or
fine-tuned, into polished completed works of art, according to the aesthetic
values of Chang. Then the digital
works are delegated to a team of painters, anonymous and working for pay.
After the canvases are completed, they are re-digitalized in order that
Chang can edit them with his finishing “feelings.”
The paintings therefore become an intermediate state for the finalized
digital images, which are imported to online cyber-culture or made into high-end
limited edition prints. The actual
images in this book are the end results of this process.
You might say they are the “doctored” digital imagery of the oil
paintings, now infused with the final layer of expression.
So the image making process actually starts, and ends, with Rodney Chang.
To advance the imagery beyond their canvas painting existence (the final product
in traditional art), thousands of dollars were further invested in his
exploratory artistic process. Chang had no historical precedent to guide
him on his aesthetic journey into the unknown, having no final destination in
mind. He felt like Columbus on a voyage to discover new uncharted
territory in the art world.
To advance the imagery beyond their canvas painting existence (the final product in traditional art), thousands of dollars were further invested in his exploratory artistic process. Chang had no historical precedent to guide him on his aesthetic journey into the unknown, having no final destination in mind. He felt like Columbus on a voyage to discover new uncharted territory in the art world.
In a broader context, “Pygoya” can be considered a group effort to
produce new art from the computer. The
team comprised of computers, painters, and an individual with the theories and
visions – Dr. Chang. The
sandwiching of output to actual paint and canvas between digital beginning and
end take the works beyond the digital and give them a hands-on quality, that of
traditional painting. It also erases
the argument that because the art is digital, there is no tangible artwork.
Well, now there's a painting that is rendered as an intermediary step, so
now what? This forces all to
rethink art categories with rigid conceptual boundaries.
Because the paintings are subsequently edited with graphic software, they
come surrogate to the more important artistic goal of merely visualizing new
art, no matter what means are undertaken to achieve it.
Chang's LastPlace.com historically documents the evolution of digital art
through the decades even as it serves as a major web stop for visual arts