DAWE's art explores interfaces or boundaries between art and science and between individual and cultural identity in art.
Photo Art or Art Photos?
Where do we draw the line between photography and art that is painted, drawn or otherwise created by the artist? In the simplest interpretation, photography documents reality while the artist expresses their own creative interpretation of the essence of their subject. But photography was never simply documentation of reality. There have always been a myriad of artistic choices to be made from composition to exposure and development of a photograph. In science, digital manipulation of the photographic record is an anathema. But does the scientist not still make an artistic choice in what composition of the evidence to present in a published representative image? Today, with sophisticated digital cameras with powerful on-board processors and vast arrays of post-processing computer software, the artistic choices of the photographer are endless. Where is the line between documentation of reality and the artist's creative presentation of their own point of view.
Meanwhile, the artist with a paintbrush has always had a choice between looking at reality and portraying it on canvas or painting entirely from their imagination. But as long ago as the 1600's it is likely that artists such as Vermeer were exploring the use of pinhole camera or camera obscura devices to project images over which they could draw and paint. With the advent of slide projectors it was easy for an artist to project an image on to canvas and paint directly over it. Today the same can be achieved with digital LCD projectors or even digital printing onto canvas and overpainting. If the artist has interacted physically with the canvas with a paintbrush do we deny that it is a painting, an artistic creation of the artist? But what if the artist works entirely in digital media? If the artist paints on a blank digital canvas on a tablet with a stylus, we would likely consider this equivalent to the traditional artist standing before a blank canvas with a paintbrush. But what if the digital artist starts with a photograph? Where then is the line between simply colouring over a photograph and creation of an original work of art? Perhaps you dare to draw the line. What then if you learn that the photograph our digital artist started with was not a photograph of reality at all but rather a computer graphic rendered representation born of our digital artist's imagination, a photograph of a vignette composed or staged by the artist, or a photograph of a traditional artwork created by the hand of an artist?
What Defines the Cultural Identity of Art?
We often hear phrases such as "African Art" or "Chinese Art" used. But Africa is a vast continent rich in diverse history, peoples, societies and civilisations. China likewise has many regions with diverse dialects and cultures and long and complex histories of interaction. What defines "African Art" or "Chinese Art"? Is it the colour palette used, the medium, the style of the brush strokes, the subject matter portrayed or the identity of the individual artist? If it is the colour palette and the style of painting, can anyone create "African Art" or "Chinese Art"? Can the cultural identity of art be transformed by changing the colour palette, the medium or the style of the brushstrokes? If we digitally alter the brushstrokes and style of a painting, but retain the subject mater and composition, is the cultural identity of the painting changed?