David Bolter's and Diane Gromala's Windows and Mirrors puts a different spin on computers, computer technology and all of it's capabilities. Like any other form of technology--computers have changed over time. Instead of viewing a computer as an appliance, Bolter and Gromala explain how the computer has evolved into a informational appliance and has now become a form of media similar to the radio, TV and film. The following quote helped me understand what Bolter and Gromala are trying to explain--"It is the task of digital art to fascinate, exhilarate and sometimes provoke us. Appliances on the other hand don't fascinate us, they brown our toast." (p2) Here, I completely understand why and how computers are far from a typical appliance like a toaster. In the past I have thought that computers were just an appliance--it was just something that helped me complete tasks. However, a computer today does far more than help me complete tasks. A computer can act as art, a book, a photo album, a television, a radio, etc... Computers have become a larger part of the entertainment world--Bolter and Gromala refer to this as the digital entertainment.
Due to my back ground in visual arts and art history I found the Art Gallery of SIGGRAPH 2000 very interesting. SIGGRAPH 2000 was far more than an art gallery as it was also considered a conference where "computer specialists and industry researchers met to review work on subjects like psycho-physiological models of shading and lighting, the moderling of snow, the animation of clouds and non-photo realistic virtual reality." (p10) It was a clear combination of art and technology. Due to this combination, the audience's experience while viewing this art was out of the ordinary. Instead of connecting with a painting on a museum wall, the audience was taking part in an interactive experience. The viewer was becoming involved with the art. My favorite piece is titled, TEXT RAIN: Catching the Falling Letters. This piece is completely interactive and the viewer becomes physically involved. The viewer stands in front of a screen of falling letters. However, the letters stop once the come into contact with the viewer's image on the screen. The viewer becomes part of the show and interacts with the digital art. When viewing traditional art in a museum, the audience is just an observer and their is a clear divide between the art and the audience. What I love about this digital art is that the audience has a chance to manipulate the artwork. As the viewer and the art come together in TEXT RAIN--the viewer has the capability to interact and make their own art as they choose how and when to move their body on the screen. This is something that is far different from traditional art but this is one way that art has changed over time--just how the computer has changed from an appliance to a medium in media.
This also leads to defining the differences between visual art and graphic design/digital art. Both are engaging and can be experimental at times. However, graphic design/digital art involves "the user."This is something I would like to pose to the rest of the class--What do you think is the difference between visual art and graphic design/digital art? What do you prefer?
At the end of the book, there is more conversation about digital art and how it is defined. Bolter and Gromala relate it to playing a "musical instrument...as users we perform the design." (p147) Digital art forms a interactive relationship with the user. As the user interacts, designs are created. The user designs their own art due to the interactive relationship. Most importantly--the user has control within digital art to create and design.