This semester has been a taxing one, to say the least. My first foray into new media has proven to be riddled with difficulties both technical and psychological. We have been able to take the open-source design of Mrs. Demaray’s and expound upon it, proving more difficult and constraining than I would have first thought. A cruel irony has emerged: that building on top of an existing idea is actually more difficult than attempting to make a new one. This seems to be a dilemma that exists within new genre work, a pseudo-extension of the postmodern dilemma. Rather than eke out new reinventions based on those of the past, artists are now tasked with making their ideas fully accessible, able to be recreated conceptually and physically.
Given my studio background and small toolset in the digital realm, it’s given me a lot of time to reflect on what I’m lacking in regards to what I want out of my education and future endeavors in digital art. I also have been thrown into a maelstrom of musings on the nature and future of art itself. Referring to the aforementioned, it’s clear that some things have proven to be valuable tools for me as a visual artist. Sketchup for maquette-making and the design process. CNC milling for accurate cuts in the future, despite my propensity for the organic in my work. 3D printing seems to simply be an infuriating process through and through; and, since my focus is in sculpture, it’s hard to simply let a computer take way too long (hours, usually) to make something I myself could in just a few moments in clay or foam or wood. Granted, I am a neophyte, and it’s clear I have a long way to go, but the door of possibility has swung wider.
Due to the entrepreneurial and nebulous nature of this work, I found it difficult to gain conceptual footing in exactly what the next course of action would be at any given moment. The question of “why” is not often one I ask in my work as an art student, but it seems to be the driving force behind this project. It’s not as if the question needed to be answered, but the difficulty existed in the multitude of feasible answers. Water production in drought-stricken areas, water purification in space, to name a couple. At its baseline, this project could simply provide a more accessible understanding of the nature of plant processes and how a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship can be formed between species. That in itself is a profound notion, which is the cornerstone of Elizabeth’s work at large.
At first, I was resistant to notions of new media. Coming from a computer-heavy background in my younger days, mainly for pleasure and distraction, I’ve taken a sort of intentional luddite approach to how I create my artwork. Now, I realize, it was simply a failure to recognize contemporary tools through either laziness or stubbornness. Wires and robots and computers and complex hardware and software are the undeniable concurrent stuff of making, and it’s our job at makers and thinkers and artists to intermingle materials with technology to render new horizons. My problem is, it’s scary because there is so much uncharted territory. Now, it isn’t a matter of what type of pigment goes where with what stroke, or whether or not to add material or subtract material – rather, which dimensions to work in, what atmosphere to create, what uncharted part of academia to meld with the creative process, how to abstract in places that are seemingly un-abstractable, and so forth.
I can find a profound solace in the notion that we are in a New Renaissance, and with that acknowledgement, perhaps we have been in a series of rebirths ever since The Renaissance. This is the part of history that sparked my interest in the humanities and led me to art in the first place; a time when inventors were artists and scientists were writers and philosophers were tinkerers. The scope of human endeavor has broadened wider than ever with the coming of the internet era, pluralistically deepening while simultaneously growing deafer and dumber despite a wealth of information – but damn, what a time to be a creative.