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Digitial Art v Paintings

Online there are many interesting debates between digital art and paintings. As my project is based upon modernising paintings and therefore turning them into digital art. There are many differing viewpoints upon this subject on the internet, traditionalists calling “Digital Art is not real art, and you’re a fool for thinking so.” They say that only old techniques where mistakes cannot be erased or undone make true art forms and the rest are just hacks or cheats in an attempt to make truly stunning and memorable art. To these people the Mona Lisa and similar paintings are the only lastable art without ever losing appeal or age.

However a more modernist approach is fairer, they argue that art is art no matter how it is done. One saying
“I think about it this way: There are many arts. There are several branches of art. I believe that traditional and digital art can exists in harmony under the visual art section. This argument is futile. It’s like comparing a painting to a drawing. (Or maybe oil pastels to a colored pencil). Everyone has their own preferences. I personally think that digital art is easier to produce, as well as faster. Not to mention you can correct mistakes that would ruin the entire picture if it were traditional. Then again, nothing can compare to the feeling of creating something new and unique and stir up the pensive feeling of pride you get when ever you complete a traditional piece of work… but who says you won’t get the same feeling as when you do the same on a computer, or likewise? Comparing Digital and Traditional art is like comparing your two most favorite foods or colors. Both have their own unique qualities that you adore about them, but both are also rather different, too. In the end, both rock.”
They can understand both’s benefits, the traditional can still look beautiful and has appeal the digital can bring something more – deeper colours, more contrast and even the element of interaction; one in which my project is bringing to the traditional.

My project ties the traditional and modern together to make a piece truly unique and something that can be memorable. Digital art is personally my preference as I prefer the concise, easily reproducible look of the digital as well as the interactivity between the audience and the piece. I feel this creates long lasting impressions and joy previously unseen in paintings, despite being technically amazing and looking stunning. I hope to also prove that there can be traditional and digital art co-existing in galleries and even in one piece; as mine is.

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The Panopticon Theory

The Panopticon theory is a media term that deals with privacy and security. French philosopher Michel Foucault described the implications of ‘Panopticism’ in his 1975 work Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison:

“Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers. To achieve this, it is at once too much and too little that the prisoner should be constantly observed by an inspector: too little, for what matters is that he knows himself to be observed; too much, because he has no need in fact of being so. In view of this, Bentham laid down the principle that power should be visible and unverifiable. Visible: the inmate will constantly have before his eyes the tall outline of the central tower from which he is spied upon. Unverifiable: the inmate must never know whether he is being looked at at any one moment; but he must be sure that he may always be so. In order to make the presence or absence of the inspector unverifiable, so that the prisoners, in their cells, cannot even see a shadow, Bentham envisaged not only venetian blinds on the windows of the central observation hall, but, on the inside, partitions that intersected the hall at right angles and, in order to pass from one quarter to the other, not doors but zig-zag openings; for the slightest noise, a gleam of light, a brightness in a half-opened door would betray the presence of the guardian. The Panopticon is a machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad: in the peripheric ring, one is totally seen, without ever seeing; in the central tower, one sees everything without ever being seen.”

In its essence the Panopticon can be applied to most every day situation. The panopticon teaches us about how users can be manipulated when they are alone or being watched. It can also apply to privacy issues that are rife in the technological world where private information can be accessed through hacking. Panopticon theory explains that users will modify their behaviour based on if they believe they are being watched or if they assume they are being watched. In society with cameras and police presence this theory is used in order to modify behaviour and discourage negative actions.

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Inspirations for the Project

Having previously discussed my aims for the project I hadn’t touched upon what inspired me to make it. With the idea revolving around privacy and the panopticon theory I researched ideas into this such as CCTV surveillance. This led me to think about how secretive most cameras are and how easily you could track people going shopping if you had the power to. Inspired by this I remembered watching many films and television shows when I was younger where people cut out the eyes of a painting to look through them – the most notable is the animated series of Scooby Doo. Thinking about how absurd and comical the thought of this was I quite liked it as it took a light hearted approach to quite a serious and debated issue in society. It also reminded me of the Harry Potter series in which I am a big fan of and their “moving paintings”. The thought of movement on something very classic and recognised is like a reimagining of the medium to bring it up to date and for me this has great appeal as it can make something already very famous and give the opportunity for people to see it and interact with it in a totally new way.

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Scooby Doo and Harry Potter