Sunday, July 27, 2008

Art Signals

There's a great convergence of art and technology taking place. In a sense, it's been taking place since the beginning of human history. The mixing of paints, the making of musical instruments, and many aspects of performance have always involved technology. But the pace has quickened, and become almost frantic in recent decades.

The area of technology most widely connected with what we now consider digital art, be it graphics, animation, music, video, or other media, is what engineers call signal processing. Basically, all these art forms are represented as signals ... sequences of numbers. We'll talk more about that, but the most obvious interpretation of ArtSignals is the widespread use of technology ... of signal processing in art.

But, in another sense, technology not only enables some art forms. It inspires and directs them as well. Some art deals with technology as an explicit or implicit subject. A work created in Photoshop means something different from a similar looking work done with more traditional media. Even movies like Star Wars or WALL-E have important technology themes.

In addition, art plays a role in the creation of technology. The clearest example is the abundance of opportunities for visual designers and industrial designers in the creation of new high-tech products. In some sense, you can consider the difference between Apple and Microsoft as a difference in the priority each company gives to design.

Finally, art itself can be thought of as messages, although not always easy to interpret. Art works themselves are signals.

  1. Technology is used in the creation of art.
  2. Art is used in the creation of technology.
  3. Technology is often the subject, directly or indirectly, of art.
  4. Signal processing, and perhaps other aspects of technology, can provide one avenue for interpreting art.
I think 1, 2 and 3 are pretty evident. Number 4 is going to take some more discussion.

So I want to use this space to talk about all these things about art and technology. I'm hoping we can keep it light and conversational, and still get into some interesting ideas. Even talking about signal processing, we stick to pictures and non-geeky language.

I've worked for many years in the creation of graphics and multimedia software for art, design, animation, and education. I'll be happy to share what I know, but there's so much more I want to learn. I'm hoping to learn from you.

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