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Surmounting the obstacles


I cannot resist in advance of establishing an arts blog in writing here of where I stand in the Fine Arts.

Historically the arts have changed with time. New forms of depiction and new media have been adopted as time has gone by. So it is with our era, that of the digital. The human is only limited by the powers of the imagination. And, if you can imagine it, more than likely you will make a reality of it.

Every previous generation has been left behind by its successor generation, in this case by our children. Children now are exposed to digital devices from the earliest age. Mummy is on the cell phone perpetually, Babies play with the cellphone finding and working around apps on their own.

There is much to be frightened of when facing the prospect of a digital future but I think that much of what is said comes from those who don’t know what the heck they are talking about. All this talk of big data, the internet of things, and so on, is talk. Those who talk using those terms have no idea as to how they might be implemented.

With about the prospect of this amorphous digital world, where potentially the digital threatens to remove many jobs from human reach, two things have me change my mind.

The future is further off than we think it to be. What is said to arrive tomorrow does not come even the day after. What we have grappled with has always been difficult. Take any example you like. Flight might be one. Building pyramids another. And so it is now; it is quite one thing to talk of something, it is quite another to make it a reality.

What comforts me immensely about this so called digital future is that the human is at the heart of it. Without the human none of it is remotely possible.

Far from being an alienating environment divorced from any kind of humanism, it is human because we shape it according to our image, a mirror of ourselves. Which is as well, for we have to live in it and with it.

Prescient writers have long predicted the future, choose your favourite writer, and to some degree they got it right. To write of space travel was to completely overlook the sheer difficulty of getting there, never mind the cost. And to what benefit? To walk on a dead surface more dead than any of our deserts. Mars! Why would be go there. With hunger, war and disease prevalent on our planet, our planet itself we are endangering. Why would we not want to stay and attempt to address those problems, to gain humanity in doing so.

So many challenges lie await ahead of us on Earth, why would we want to go anywhere else.

I write because those of you who are aware that I do art work will know that most of it is digital art. This is a challenging field for a number of reasons. One can do the sorts of pretty pictures, according to your taste, that I do at present. Or one can look to the challenges and possibilities that the digital medium offers. And they are many but challenging. First of all they are technically difficult if one is to go into the realm with any kind of seriousness. I have just downloaded a software, an open software, which works from the command line. The second reason for wanting to develop further the digital as a media is that the possibilities are so enormous as to leave one wondering where to start.

One can take a well established direction such as the graphic work seen in the gaming world with its primary concern with the grotesque. The imagery is stereotyped and all embracing, in the way a python is, or one can break away and find one’s imagery which speaks for, and from, the self. Not cartoon nor formulaic but that which has an integrity about it that convinces viewers.

The compulsion to write this morning stems from what I said earlier, that those of us of, the previous generation, born during, or shortly after WWII, grew up in a world without any of the digital means we see all around us to the point of ubiquity. We have not grown up with it in our blood so to speak.

Bridging that gap is not easy. My wife told me of a programme she saw on television recently where a class of 8 year olds were engaging in a thing called the Mad Science. The adeptness, adroitness of these children, their grasp and dexterity in this medium, the digital, she found breathtaking. And I can well understand that. I have worked in that environment more of less since its infancy. Hollerith punched cards and all that.

But it is the speed with which these children, all children now, can understand and flourish in this environment that astonishes.

But I had that as a child, My generation, growing up in the Sixties, rapidly was leaving our parent’s generation far behind. We had opportunities that they never had and we took every one of those and made it our own. We had ready access to university, we had professions open to us, and so on, that they never had. Diet, medicine and so it goes on.

I think it is the speed with which the present generation catches on that led my wife to be astounded. And I am caught by it too.

Can we catch up? Can we make this realm our own? I think so. As I move forward as an artist I shall certainly try. However dextrous one is, hard work is required. Success in no field is possible without it. And the motivation to do so.

Malcolm D B Munro
Tuesday 6 June, 2017

 

 

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