5 Digital Artists Talk About What Makes This Moment So Unique
Digital artists use the virtual to seize the tangible and to create the original. Ready to discover this dialogue between the digital tools and the artistic approach?
The expression of digital art has taken many forms over the years, largely following the advancement of technology. However, one constant has been artists’ exploration of digital media as a form of expression, as they take advantage of various technologies and place them in dialogue with the history of fine art.
We talked to five young digital media artists who are creating mind-blowing work and are worth keeping on your radar. They discussed their cross-disciplinary approach and how the form of their art has changed over time.
“I was really obsessed with video games and anime as a kid. Hero characters were always especially inspiring to me. I started drawing characters from video games and anime and got really into creating my own characters as well. I was mostly just drawing at first, and then doing digital painting in Photoshop. I started getting into 3D in 2015, and I’m still really invested in making characters, using them to express different emotions, moods, and concepts, and have created some 3D interactive art experiences (which are essentially games) as well. I honestly love the cross-disciplinary approach. Most of my work is based on the culture surrounding tech — whether it’s socializing through the metaverse, sharing memes and meme humor, or gender identity and video games, I just keep finding new topics that interest me.
“I think 3D work is kind of like a black box. Not many people know the work that goes into it. It becomes even more complicated when you start looking at VR work. Because of this, I think simple tools can come off as complex and it becomes difficult to distinguish what to value. Concept aside, it takes a bit of education on the techniques artists use to create their work to start allocating value. In the future, as technology like 3D, AR, VR, and AI continues to become more accessible, we will see a lot more of this type of work around in people’s homes, in digital frames, etc.”
“I started drawing super early, as in before I could speak, and made my first recognizable figures when I was 1.5 years old. I had a solo art exhibition when I was 5, which was on national news. I was really good at math and science so I attended a high school for gifted kids, where I represented my country in Chemistry Olympics. I have to say there was also a socio-cultural push toward not being an artist, and adults around me kept telling me that I would waste my academic brilliance if I stayed in the arts. At age 18, I decided to study architecture would be the best for me since it is a discipline where art, science, and tech converges. I think because I studied so many different things over the years and was exposed to so many influences my style kept changing. But one thing remained the same: my passion for drawing as a thought form.
“I call my approach infra-disciplinary, as in below/beyond disciplines. This is a time where a lot of disciplines blend into each other, and we have areas of study, such as neuroeconomics, ethnochoreology, psycholinguistics, and so on. ‘Working at the intersection’ involves being open to knowledge coming from multiple resources and always keeping your antenna on. Specifically with projects that involve biological sciences, I try to follow the latest publications on the subject and start correspondences with labs and scientists. It is a way of gathering knowledge of knowledge, harmonizing it, making outlines, and thinking: How do I convey all of this in a meaningful accessible way to the audience who may or may not be familiar with these topics already? In a way it is science communication, yes, but I am more interested in sculpting artistic experiences of high intellectual quality and affective substance.
“I draw and sculpt by hand, and there’s a part of me who hates the fact that I have to sculpt on a flat surface (think Wacom tablet). I am so much better when I am not limited by the confines of computer interfaces. At the end of the day, human body is a more complicated and superior technology than digital technology. Nothing can replace the feeling of working with materials and surfaces directly. However digital tech helps with distribution, scale, reproduction, and modification. So both have its advantages and disadvantages. History of art is parallel to history of humankind; humans have always created artifacts and have always made artistic gestures. It doesn’t surprise me that we turn to technology right now as that’s what dominates our culture, our bodies and minds. What really intrigues me about modern technology is, though, what looks like an artwork right now can become someone’s reality tomorrow. Art opens up imagination, makes it possible to imagine new worlds, new experiences, new cultures.
“There’s a common belief that art is about the self and is an expression of the self. I want to think that art is much more than self-expression. It is high time that we realize how crucial art is for our survival and create effective support networks for creativity, imagination, and artistic production.”
“I have always been a visual person, and I have always enjoyed creating things and making art. Ironically, I didn’t consider art to be an actual path forward till after I graduated from art school. I thought I would just go into design, as a happy medium for creativity and work. I was satisfied enough with what I was doing but couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting more. So I began creating art again on my own. That’s when everything shifted, and I began to commit to a journey of seriously pursuing art. From that moment forward, my decision to create art became my life practice as well as a visual journey, serving as a dialogue, in my exploration and reflection on the future of humanity in conjunction with technology. While the tools and methods that I use continuously evolve, I have stayed true to the themes and focus of my art. Striving to create emotive work that places the viewer within my mind to experience my world as their own. My desire as I move forward with my work is to continue to explore themes of impermanence, patterns, time, the future of humanity and reality and spirituality as relating to technology and beyond. Through the use of tools like mixed reality, AI, and animation, I seek to create immersive worlds that blend multiple layers of reality into a cohesive experience — much as I imagine reality existing itself.
“The cross-disciplinary approach is born out of necessity as well as from my deep lifelong love and interest in technology. I am always in motion and looking for new creative tools to explore, so it’s something that comes to me naturally. For me working at the intersection of art and technology lies within the newly forged relationships and alliances between creatives and technologists. This is a unique moment in time where technologists and digital artists find themselves uniquely paired in a symbiotic relationship of interdependency. Technologists need artists to test, troubleshoot, promote, and basically figure out how to best use their products. And artists, depend upon technologists to make these new tools and technologies accessible and available to create work that has potentially never been imagined or experienced before.
“Technology is adding this whole new dimension to art and what it means to be an artist. Now with AI, you can be a visual artist solely using words. Art to some degree has always been about escapism, but now artists are becoming the architects of reality, creating and constructing new identities and worlds. What we are doing now goes beyond art and over time will redefine existence as we know it. And perhaps usher in a new era as well.”
“As I was completing my studies in film production, I realized that video was much more fascinating to me than film; I was particularly drawn by its electronic aspect and its potential to exist in a tentacular manner. The works of pioneers of video and computer art, such as Steina and Woody Vasulka, Dan Sandin, and Lillian Schwartz, were important inspirations for me at that time. I was working mainly with analog video synthesizers and video feedback, sculpting the electronic signals to create abstract architectures. As my interest in architecture evolved, I started to integrate 3D animation into my process, which allowed me to create more complex environments while exploring a language that would mix analog and digital technologies. The constant integration of new techniques allows me to explore the themes that run through my work in ever-changing forms: the influence of architecture and the digital environment on our perception of the world, the relationship we have with the virtual aspect of existence, the fusion between technology and the organic world. Video has always been like a portal toward other forms of interest. I am interested in the traces that humans leave and how they become an intrinsic part of an ecosystem. For the last year, I have been doing 3D scans of abandoned objects, such as cars or computer screens. I am now recontextualizing them in disproportionately large dimensions within landscapes seen from afar. I see these abandoned objects like ruins of monumental architecture.
“My practice is rooted in video art and 3D animation, which is the starting point to explore the infinite potential of digital images. To me, video is a malleable medium, which can be extended into installation, 3D-printed sculptures, photogrammetry, live performance, VR, prints, etc. I perceive my practice as a tentacular approach, each new project reaching for new forms and integrating new techniques. I have always been conscious about creating a dialogue and referencing the history of art, starting with the history of electronic art, and eventually, with other forms of art such as paintings, sculptures, architecture, and sound art for example. I believe that digital art is the continuity of art history. The technologies have changed, but to me, it is like painting and sculpting with electricity and pixels.”
“As a kid, I always had a camera with me and loved to paint. Through the years, I have enjoyed creating visceral pieces with different mediums. I like to focus on new ways of creating work that explores and uncovers unexpected emotions. My practice is always evolving as I grow — I use various mediums, color palettes, subjects, and technologies to find new ways of expressing myself through my work.
“I get excited when I figure out a way to create something new, and a cross-disciplinary approach allows me to do that. My work often starts with a question or energy that I feel, and then I explore it in front of the camera to find answers — both literally and abstractly. I am often taking creative risks in my work, and new technologies are very much a part of my exploration: They allow me to create pieces that are unusual, hopefully emotive, that offer a new perspective to the viewer.”