Time to Railroad

24 10 2009

“Engineering is the art of the practical and depends more on the total state of the art than it does on the individual engineer. When railroading time come you can railroad — but not before. Look at poor Professor Langley, breaking his heart on a flying machine that should have flown — he had put the necessary genius in it — but he was just a few years too early to enjoy the benefit of collateral art he needed and did not have. Or take the great Leonardo da Vinci, so far out of his time that his most brilliant concepts were utterly unbuildable.” – R.A. Heinlein

What does the above quote have to do with art? I would suggest that not only is engineering tied to the art of the practice, but so is new media art. Much of new media art and any digital art is totally dependent on the personal computer. Not only did the personal computer have to be invented and made financially accessible to the artist, but the software tools like Adobe Photoshop also needed to be invented and made accessible.

My oldest digital art, cica 1986

My oldest digital art, cica 1986

When I first started teaching digital art 20 years ago, what could be created was very limited. I was using Deluxe Paint which had very limited tools, and the resolution and colors I had available to me were just as limited. And then there was the problem of taking a digital image and putting it into physical form. There was no one at the time that specialized in this and certainly home printers could not do this. For my first art show that showed my digital work, I had to go to one photography company to have an interneg shot of my digital fine, and then go to a second company to print the interneg on photo paper. It was an awkward process and I could only do it because I had access to a large cities recourses (this was before the commercial Internet). The point is that I was trying to create art before the art of the practical was there.

Art from my original art show, circa 1990.

Art from my original art show, circa 1990.

Today with my current art I am still dependent on the state of the art and practical. There are three major technological components to my art. The first is creating my source material. My primary source is virtual worlds, but I also use digital photography. Technologies that have come into their own only in the last five years. I then depend on my software tools like Photoshop. The foundations for these tools have been around for perhaps 20 years (as can be seen by my early art) but only in the last few years have they become so powerful of tools. Finally, my art is dependent on the printing process, i.e. Giclée printing, and again that is a very new technology.

Art from my first art show, circa 1990

Art from my first art show, circa 1990

The point is that I could not create my art until it was time to railroad. But it is now time to railroad.





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