A special issue of Art & Beyond covering photography and digital art was published this year. My favorite article in this issue was written by Anne Dillon and is entitled “Digital Art- Time to Shine”. In this concise two-page essay, Anne discusses how difficult it is to explain the concept of digital art to most viewers. Just as photography was once shunned by traditional artists, digital art is now being shunned by some as “not real art.” She makes the important point that digital art has been used by such famous people as Andy Warhol since the 1960s. She continues by explaining that this type of art is not as simple or easy as many seem to think. She claims that whatever technique allows the audience to deeply connect to an image is good art. As technology advances, she encourages us to celebrate its power and its ability to change lives.
At the same time, The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, FL happens to be exhibiting a curated sample of five decades of photography from a private collection they acquired several years ago. This collection includes works from many modern era photographers who rejected straight photography and delved into a variety of non-digital manipulations to create surreal, blended images. This group includes Minor White, Ellen Land-Weber, Mari Mahr, Edward Steichen, Clarence John Laughlin, Brian Oglesbee, Barbara Morgan and Jerry Uelsmann.
And, quite by happenstance, I discovered the world of digital art by attending a gallery exhibition of iPhoneography in early 2014. In my process, I begin by gathering together months of digital photographs on my iPhone. At first, my repertoire was limited to nature photographs, since that subject matter interested me and was familiar to me. Over time, however, this limitation has dissolved away and much more abstract images have made their way through my phone’s camera lens. Sometimes, accidental images have made their way through as well. As Minor White is often quoted to say, “…Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer it has chosen.”
Once the images are in the phone, I can use an app for the phone that is specially designed to blend these images. So, next comes choosing what to blend. Which photograph will be the main image? Which will be blended in? How much will be blended? How will it be positioned? When an image is created that seems acceptable, it is saved to my phone. If needed, other light filters can be applied using the same app. These filters change the coloration of the image and often make a startlingly fresh creation.