Exhibition Au-delà des limites by teamLab, La Villette

What are the main characteristics of digital art?

 

In this article, we will define digital art as all the works that take advantage of new technologies to question our relationship to digital.
In this sense, a work cannot be defined as a digital work if just using digital as a simple tool. Digital must be an integral part of the artist’s creative process. He integrates new technologies in order to probe them and understand how they are changing our relationship to the world.

 

Filipe Vilas-Boas with his work The Punishment.

Work made up of a robotic arm that writes in a frenetic way: “I must not hurt humans… I must not hurt humans”. 

As a consequence, the field of possibilities is very large since each technological innovation opens up new perspectives for artistic creation. Bio art, Net Art, virtual reality, augmented reality, video mapping: digital art is definitely an art with multiple facets that greatly inspires artists. Digital art defies attempts at definition because of its diversity, but let us try to extract some elements that seem characteristic of this artistic movement.

 

INTERACTIVE ART

 

Digital art is about interactivity. It is indeed a break from traditional art forms such as painting and sculpture, which are essentially static art forms, made to be contemplated by the spectator.

With digital art, the relationship between the artwork and the spectator is modified. The artist, by adding different sensors to his work, such as sound, temperature, or movement sensors, will allow the spectator to interact with the work and make it his own. The spectator is no longer in a passive approach but in a proactive one: he participates in the creation of the work, which can then take on infinite forms

However, let’s remember that the border between playful devices and interactive art can be delicate. Indeed, some video games also incorporate the notion of interactivity without belonging to the field of artistic production. The work of art cannot be reduced to entertainment, it must invite reflection and refer us, as spectators, to our own questions.

Interactive installation, Résonance, Studio Tish

GENERATIVE ART 

The relationship between the work and the spectator is often disrupted when it comes to digital art, and it is the same for the relationship between the work and the artist. To create his work, the artist will often create his own technological tool, which is then responsible for the final rendering of the work. 

The digital artist is often an artist and an engineer, he creates his own software, shapes a computer code and it is the computer that generates the work: we can thus speak about generative art.  

The work, since it is based on an algorithm, does not have a finished form. It is generated in real time, in front of the spectator. Traditional works appear in their completed form whereas digital works remain at the status of “work in progress” as they are constantly evolving. They are a permanent flow. Umberto Eco, speaks about an “open work”. 

Digital works have the characteristic of not being predetermined. The rules of evolution of the work are predefined by the artist but the result is random.

Forays into Clamor IX, Yoshi Sodeoka
This work was generated thanks to an algorithm designed by the artist, which makes it possible to make the visual of the work evolve according to the sound, so that visual and sound production form a harmony.

IMMERSIVE ART

With digital art, the spectator is thus placed in the middle of an experience as he interacts with the work and the work is generated in front of him according to external parameters.

This notion of experience is central into digital art. The experience is emotional, sensory and physical at the same time and can be enhanced by the immersive aspect of some works. The spectator is then immersed in a visual, auditory, olfactory or tactile experience. All the senses of the spectator are engaged to rethink the frontier between a virtual work (the artist’s work) and the real world (the spectator’s sensations). With traditional works, Artists were interested in the spectator’s mind, but digital artists also take over the spectator’s body and really put it at the centre of the work.

 

Immorphosis, Collectif Scale

The digital work is therefore a complete break with more traditional works. The work is no longer fixed, it is a permanent flow that is nourished by interactions with its audience, it seeks out the great outdoors, and appeals to all our senses. 

Digital art is deeply in line with the times. Artists are grabbing the digital tools offered by their era, thus allowing infinite creative possibilities, combining art and technology!