Archival Importance

A turning point into digital art's importance for archives.

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Picture from Blue Ridge Botanic.

As we’ve seen with the last examples and academic texts, there is a lot of mystery and a need for clarification in the realm of digital authenticity. There are questions of whether artworks that were meant to use technology or were intended to be experienced through digital means are true forms of art like paintings and literature, and there are questions of how artworks, through their digitalization, lose their essence and become a perversion.

Through Gilles Deleuze and his work on Cinema, we see aspects of old and new academic understandings of aesthetic value and art. To revisit the work of the first chapter, this aspect of creation is seen throughout many older texts like those of Aristotle, but also through the newer works of Gaut. However, Deleuze introduces ideas of crystallization and the Time-Image that make his work a lot more specific than that overarching work on art. So, through Deleuze, we saw a keyhole into the answer of how the authenticity of digital art can blossom when the work was originally meant for a digital experience. So to answer specifically the question of digitalization of previous works of art, we discussed the work of Linda Hutcheon on adaptation. Through her distinction and definitions of adaptation, we were able to see a bigger picture of how many of these artworks that were originally in more traditional forms like The Glass Menagerie as a physical play, can still be considered true and primary forms of art even through its digitalization. With that all being said, digital art seems to do more than just allow more room for creation or allow us to realize that it is not just secondary to traditional forms of art, digital art can also serve as an active role and force in its timeless nature. Books, plays, and early songs all hold a very special place in the world of philosophy of art. So much scholarship and work have been done on pieces like Shakespeare, or the Bible, because they have, one, been around for a long enough time for more work to be done on them, but also because many people believe that most new work derives from a lot of these older pieces. This was briefly discussed in the chapter on adaptation, but there is a question that is ignored or put aside most of the time when arguments for the superiority of these older works are made: how much emphasis should the specific role and experience of the audience play in the value of a work of art?

For digital art, there are two very important aspects that it has that many traditional art forms don’t: the manipulation and accessibility of the audience. So, more obviously, a work of art being put online allows it to be geographically and financially more accessible to more people. Many times, like for the Mona Lisa, people are only able to experience it through photographs due to them not living in Paris or not having the funds to take a trip there. Although access to computers or technology is still a large problem for many places in the world, including the United States, digital art maneuvers through many of the obstacles that traditional forms of art are not able to. Another important aspect of how digital art manipulates the audience and therefore allows for a more timeless experience of the works of art through its hyper-control of what the audience sees. Like animation, having the ability to control much of what the audience sees and how they see it allows for an abundance of new possibilities for digital art. In many classical understandings of art, limitations and constraints are very important not only because they allow us to distinguish the different forms of art from one another, but also because they establish an important prompt for artists to use in pushing that boundary. Many modern art movements are a rejection of their previous movements, like how postmodernism rejects modernism, and this idea plays into how new forms of art, like how photography was to painting, reject and play with their limitations to evoke more aesthetic value. For example, as we saw in Deleuze, Cinema’s most authentic and valuable artistic authorship is through the manipulation of the camera. Unlike its predecessor in plays, Film allows the audience to be on the stage and look at the scenes, actors, and sets, up-close and personal.

To tie together how these manipulations come to an important distinction in this discussion of digital art, is that we are beginning to see how, ultimately, the presence of digital art is part of its value. Now, the ability to digitalize artworks allows scholars and researchers to access and present these artworks in many different ways that weren’t possible with traditional forms of art. It also allows for these works of art, like the piece that is in the next chapter, as well as the ones before it, to be used and seen, as my only interaction with these pieces has been through the internet and a screen. This means that not only can the timelessness of digital art mean something for the aesthetic value of digital art, but it can also allow for practical accessibility for scholars and the emergence of more scholarship that was once only accessible to a handful.