Digital Art: The View from Three Chilean Women Exponents and One International Expert
Digital art is a still evolving form of expression that employs an electronic or digital medium for creation or exhibition. However, as Claudia Giannetti, the researcher and theorist in contemporary art, media art, and science, technology and art, says, “digital art is a limited term and we rarely use it in a broader sense. International consensus exists regarding the term “media art”, that goes beyond digital. It can be traced to the 1950s with the emergence of computers. Some earlier expressions may be called pre-media art.” (More information about the artist here.).
The Chilean artist Andrea Wolf, Masters in Digital Arts from the Universidad Pompeu Fabra, notes that “Every attempt at classification and nomenclature is complex, but also limiting. A problem I frequently see in this field is the infatuation with new technologies and its pyrotechnics. The technology itself is celebrated, the novelty of the medium becomes an aesthetic category, instead of using it as a tool for creating, questioning, and problematizing.”
Andrea Gana, with a degree in Art and Aesthetics from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, has specialized in non-conventional audiovisual projections such as mapping and light as spatial and conceptual interventions, a technique she developed in her Delight Lab studio. She explains, “Digital art is one that employs “digitalization” as part of its aesthetic discourse. That is one characteristic. It makes use of technology, hardware, software, and digital media. That is evident. (…) The term is very broad, there are lots of subcategories and within each one we can see different situations. It differs from other types of art that use digital tools in some parts of their process, but are not necessarily considered digital art”.
The latter is the case of the Chilean artist and illustrator Luisa Rivera, who lives in London. She affirms that “Although I use tools to digitalize, the essential part of my work occurs through analogue tools. Therefore, I don’t consider my work digital art.”
Another definition is offered by Rommy González, Chilean designer who specialized in Motion Graphics at the School of Visual Arts in New York and Film Photography at the Escola Superior de Cinema i Audiovisuals of Catalonia, in Barcelona. “For me, digital art means creation from the intangible, what does not occupy a physical place in this world, but rather, belongs to a new dimension: between what is ephemeral but also eternal,” explains the artist who resides in Berlin.
The value of digital art for the viewer and collectors is a significant issue, when it comes to analyzing this development. For González, “In a second, people, galleries, and collectors can access your progress, new works, your catalogue of work, etc. You can interact with your public immediately and from a distance. Digitalization has opened people’s minds and the concept of art today is much broader than before.” Andrea Wolf shares a similar opinion, but she warns of the complexity of preserving digital art. “I think the public has become fairly used to it and feels comfortable with this type of art. While there is increasing interest in collecting digital art, forming a collection is more complex because these works pose new challenges for exhibition and conservation. It is quite probable that a painting eventually may need some conservation work, however these is no risk that it will cease to function as it should. With a digital work, especially those are part of a process, the support technology can malfunction or become obsolete. Many digital works are sold with technical guarantees that cover “x” number of years and then you have to pay for maintenance, if need be. Another challenge, a greater one, I think, is how fast digital technologies become obsolete: from Internet (that affect Net Art) browsers to programming language, operative systems, and electronic components,” she adds.
“Now there exists a very strong digital culture. It seems to me that sometimes people can understand an interactive digital work better than a work of 18th century art. It is a very attractive and complex technology. Perhaps more so in Chile since we have the Video and Media Arts Biennial (I have participated in it.). Delight Lab went to the Circle of Light Festival in Russia where most digital art is used in mapping and the public appreciates it so much. We also organized the Küze Festival of Light in Santiago; in 2017 more than 12,000 people attended,” says Andrea Gana.
Many women exponents of digital art have noteworthy work. Andrea Wolf, Andrea Gana and Rommy González mentioned the names of Chilean artists such as Claudia González, Valentina Serrati, Natalia Cabrera and Paula Garrido. Internationally, Analivia Cordeiro (Latin America’s video art pioneer); Tierney Milne of Canada; Claudia Hart (developer of interactive imagery); Addie Wagenknecht (tactical new-media artist); Petra Cortright (Net Art) Donna Haraway (theorist, author of the cyborfeminist manifesto); and Emma Lopéz ( AVA Animation & Visual Arts), are just a few examples.
The work of the women interviewed here may be viewed at the following web sites:
www.artmetamedia.net (Claudia Giannetti)
www.medienkunstnetz.de/themes/aesthetics_of_the_digital/ (Claudia Giannetti)
vimeo.com/100854938 (showreel Delight Lab)