Art and Being Transgendered

15 11 2009

If you read my ‘About Marla’, you will note that I am a transgendered woman. Now transgendered can mean a number of different things, but in my case I use the word broadly, meaning an individual who transcends societies gender rules and barriers. Basically, although I have a male body, I live both as a man and a woman, and cross over between the two.

Lines of DanceThis means that I have interesting conflicts in myself, I access both the masculine and the feminine to be a total person. I merge both the yin and yang.

I believe this is also reflected in my art. We can see this in a number of different ways. For example, my art uses some of the latest innovations in digital technology in the creation process, yet I strive to bring a very personal texture and warmth in the final renditions of my art. This is why I like canvas and why you see brush strokes and other long used physical expressions in the art.

The themes I chose have a strong yin and yang in that I draw both from oriental and occidental sources, and bring them together in a single piece. In a like way, I like to work with both light and dark, and contrast the two.

I believe, both in my life and in my art, by drawing from disparate sources, I can create something greater than either alone.



Rejecting “Digital Art”

2 11 2009

As a digital artist, did I get you attention in saying I was rejecting my chosen media?  Not really, it’s more that I am questioning and perhaps rejecting the label “Digital Art”.   The reason for this is that it is not very descriptive and also not very communicative.

Think about this for a second, with today’s technology, almost all music is ‘digital’.   It’s recorded digitally, it’s mixed digitally, it’s modified digitally, and it’s stored digitally in my MP3 player.   So why do we not call music ‘digital art’?

Because with music, what is important is the musical artist and the artist creations, the digital aspects are just tools for managing that music.  Also, since almost all music involves digital tools (including live music), calling it digital would not tell us much.

Is this different than visual art?   Maybe.   Unlike music, there is multiple genre’s of visual art that use minimal to no digital technology.   So the label ‘digital’ does describe some subset of all visual art.

As I discussed in my last post, in the early days ‘digital art’ described only a very small percentage of all art, but times are changing.   Digital art is encompassing more and more of all visual art.   For example, a very large percentage of photography is now digital.

And what we call digital art is dividing itself into a multiple of artistic forms.  Consider this list from itechsquad…

* Artistic computer game modification

* Ascii Art

* Bio Art

* Computer art

* Digital poetry

* Tradigital art

* Electronic art

* Evolutionary art

* Generative art

* Hacktivism

* Information art

* Interactive art

* Internet art

* Net art

* Performance art

* Radio art

* Robotic art

* Software art

* Sound art

* Systems art

* Video art

* Virtual art

So, is it time we dumped the label ‘Digital Art’?


Letting Art Grow

17 10 2009

I think I have mentioned this in previous blogs, but I have been wrestling with how I manage my art work. One of the characteristics I’m seeing in my art is that I am never quite done with any piece of my art. Yes, I know that many say that one should say this piece is FINISHED and then move on to a new piece. But why? Why cannot art works continue to grow and change over time?

I think this will be or even must be a characteristic of my art. I cannot imagine stopping with any piece. There are too many ideas to explore.  For example, below are two different versions of the same piece.   Both I think are exceptional art in their own right, but each works with the same source material.

Cherry Blossom 01-F1

Version 1 of Cherry Blossom #1

Version 2 of Cherry Blossom #1

Version 2 of Cherry Blossom #1

As such, I am going to use the term ‘Version’ to designate a release of my art. Each version will by definition be unique and reflect different ideas and explorations of the work over time.

I probably could not do this if I was working with a fixed physical media like oils or watercolors, but since digital never degrades, and allows for multiple versions, it works well for my media.

This approach will also give me a solution in how my art can be made available. Some versions I can release as single unique physical works that I control through the Giclée printing processes for which there are no copies, and other versions I can release to digital printing houses for multiple releases.


Explaining New Media

2 10 2009
Tea House #3

Tea House #3

Last night was the reception for an art show I was in.   As would be expected, people, including other artist, wanted to know how I create my art.   And I ran into a solid wall in how to explain what I was doing.   For most of them, the word ‘digital’ was some type of magic that they did not understand.   None really understood the concept of 3D virtual worlds, 3D modeling, graphical effects or many of the other tools and methods I use.

For example, with Tea House #3, everyone thought I had used a live model for my protagonist in the art.   They couldn’t understand that my model was virtual.  I guess that’s a compliment, but the failure to communicate was frustrating.

Now I’m still getting a feel for the art scene,  but I’m wondering if there is a large generational divide here.  Larger than in the mainstream culture.   Is anyone else running into this?  What are your observations?


Telling Story

30 09 2009
Check #1

Check #1

I bring to my art 20+ years (eh eh ehhh, no guessing on my age) as a collaborative story teller.   Specifically, I’m a professional game designer, having been in the video game industry since the very early days.   It may take a minute here to correlate the two claims, but essentially games are collaborative story telling between the game designer and the game player.   The designer creates a world and how items in the world interact, he may also create narration, characters, backstory, mood and environment, all components of a story.    But they are not story in and of them self, what is also required in games is the game player who interacts in the game world, and thereby create a unique story.   One entirely different than ever created before by any other game player.

I’m sure this is somewhat obvious for some games like Halo or World of Warcraft, but I would suggest that it is also true of all games.   Consider the game Chess.   Each time the game players get together for a game you see created a unique story of tentative openings, mid game clashes and closing death.  This story came not only from the game players but the long dead designer(s) of Chess as well.  Both elements are needed in this form of collaborative story telling.

Life Tree #7

Life Tree #7

What does this have to do with visual art or at least my art?   Coming from a collaborative story telling background, I want my visual art to accomplish similar cooperative.  I am trying to give the audience components and pieces that when combined with the audiences imagination and unique character of each individual, a story then becomes alive.  How do I do this?   This is actually a question I am asking my own self.   One thing I note is that I try to bring a human face (or back) into my pieces.   Humans are so complex, and we relate to them so well, that just one human form generates infinite numbers of stories.    I have pieces with no human forms in them, and they somehow to not seem to posses the same richness.      Another aspects is to bring in components that don’t quite fit.   Take a look at my Life Tree #7.   Certainly the glowing blue tree brings builds unique questions of story, but also what is the blue mass next to the tree?   By hooking the audience into asking these questions, I hook them also into building their own unique story.

A collaboration between myself and my audience.


What is medium?

28 09 2009
Cherry Blossom #2

Cherry Blossom #2

This post is tied to one of mine a couple of days ago.   When I took in my art to the LAC show Saturday, I discovered that they had changed the media of my art from ‘Giclée on Canvas’ to ‘Digital’.   Is ‘digital’ a medium?   The dictionary defines medium as “the means of communication”, but another definition defines it as “the material or technique with which an artist works”.

Digital certainly is not the means of communication.   My label of ‘Giclée on Canvas’ describes that.   The final work is physical, not digital.   However, some of my techniques I used in creating the art definitely were digital techniques.    So if technique is the defining term of medium, then perhaps my works are digital.

But digital is such a broad term.   It pretty much defines all communications in the world today (including this blog), and much of it’s art, especially when one considers most film, photography, video, music and printing are digital.   So is it appropriate to label the media of some art works using digital techniques as ‘digital’?



Views of the East & West Art Show

26 09 2009
Lines of Dance

Lines of Dance

I have four pieces of my artwork in the “Views of the East and West” art show at the Lakewood Art Council’s Art Center and Gallery from September 28 through October 30.   There is a public reception on Thursday October 1 from 6:00 to 7:30.  The gallery is at 85 S Union Blvd in Lakewood Colorado behind the Wendy’s next to Kobe An.  If you have a chance, do take a look at the show.

The LAC website is