Cellular Automata Pollockus


(Above) Made in Capow with the usual settings of 2D wave or heat, and the 3D view settings of Sheet, colored lines, med. res., and none of those science class guidelines that are drawn by default (Capow is an extremely nerdy program).

Pollock had his drip paintings, I have my “click” paintings.

One interesting comment on this new digital medium is that unlike the traditional canvas and paint, digital works are intangible and therefore unpossessible. You can’t really own an “original” digital work although you could own a numbered print of it.

Unlike traditional printmaking however, there’s no plate to destroy after making the limited edition number of copies which through its destruction creates the conditions of scarcity and makes each print copy special and ownable. The digital file is the printing plate, so to speak, and can be easily copied itself. Unlimited and costless copying is part of the digital medium.

This is good for the viewer and for the distribution and dissemination of artwork, which in the long term all that really matters. It becomes a problem for artists or 3rd parties who want to make money off the artwork today because the traditional sale of the original artwork isn’t possible, and the strategy of limited edition prints used in printmaking aren’t possible either without somehow destroying or locking up the digital file.

It is possible though to display a low resolution file (eg. 600x400px) on a computer screen for the purpose of displaying the artwork on the internet while keeping private the high resolution file necessary to produce a quality print (eg. 6000x4000px). That still doesn’t answer the objections of the potential art collector who wants to “own” the image, as that would require a single printing and destruction of the digital file — a rather extreme action, but possible in the case of commissioned work (although it’s analogous to destroying the negative from a great photograph).

I think this “un-ownable” aspect to digital art is a minor drawback considering the great advantages it gains from ease of distribution and reproduction that come with the digital medium. People who want to cash in on digital art (i.e. starving artists) will just have to go back to the old art forms or get a job doing something useful. The old cash cow is gone.