What is Computer Art? - GeeksforGeeks (2022)

Computer art is commonly defined as any type of visual artistic expression that uses computers in its creation and/or displays. This can include both two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) images created entirely with a computer and graphics programme. There are also forms of art that combine traditional media with newer digital methods to create works of art that can be difficult to categorise. Computer art can also include artwork created within or outside of a computer, but which makes effective use of a computer for presentation.

Computer art, also known as digital art, is characterised by the use of computers and modern technology in the creation of visual media. The most basic form of such art is that which creates the final images using a computer, various input devices, and software on the computer. The graphic design generated by computer programmes, as well as fine art or illustrations that use computer software to replicate the effects and styles used in traditional forms of painting or illustration, are examples of this type of art. Computer art can be created for fine art or commercial purposes, such as advertising campaigns and website design.

Computer Art History:

1950’s

  • Many artists and designers worked with mechanical devices and analogue computers in the 1950s, which can be seen as a precursor to the work of the early digital pioneers who came after.
  • ‘Oscillon 40,’ from 1952, is one of the earliest electronic works in the V&A’s collection. Ben Laposky, the artist, manipulated electronic waves that appeared on the small fluorescent screen with an oscilloscope.
  • An oscilloscope is a device that displays the wave shape of an electric signal and is commonly used in electrical testing.
  • Laposky photographed many different combinations of these waves and dubbed his photographs ‘Oscillons.’

1960’s

  • In the early 1960s, computers were still in their infancy, and access to them was extremely limited. Computing technology was bulky, inefficient, and prohibitively expensive.
  • Such equipment could only be afforded by research laboratories, universities, and large corporations. As a result, computer scientists and mathematicians were among the first to creatively employ computers.
  • Many of the first users programmed the computer themselves. Artists and computer scientists were able to experiment more freely with the computer’s creative potential by writing their own programmes.
  • Early output devices were also limited in their capabilities. The plotter, a mechanical device that holds a pen or brush and is linked to a computer that controls its movements, was a major source of output in the 1960s.
  • According to the computer program’s instructions, the computer would guide the pen or brush across the drawing surface, or it could move the paper underneath the pen.
  • Another early output device was the impact printer, which used force to apply ink to paper, similar to a typewriter.
  • Plotter drawings and early print-outs were mostly black and white, though some artists, such as computer pioneer Frieder Nake, did create colour plotter drawings.

1970’s

  • By the 1970s, a growing number of artists were teaching themselves to code rather than relying on collaborations with computer programmers.
  • Many of these artists came to computers from traditional fine art backgrounds, as opposed to the scientific or mathematical backgrounds of the early practitioners. A
  • Artists were drawn to the computer’s logical nature and the processes involved.
  • The Slade School of Art, University of London, established the ‘Experimental and Computing Department’ in the early 1970s.
  • During the 1970s, Slade was one of the few institutions that attempted to fully integrate the use of computers in art into its teaching curriculum. With its in-house computer system, the department provided unrivalled resources.
  • From 1977 to 1979, Paul Brown attended the Slade. Individual elements evolve or propagate according to a set of simple rules in his computer-generated drawings. Brown created an image generation system based on tiles.
  • Despite the use of relatively simple forms, writing a programme to produce a work like this would have taken a long time.

1980’s

  • With the widespread adoption of computers for both business and personal use in the 1980s, digital technologies entered everyday life.
  • Computer graphics and special effects first appeared in films such as ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and ‘Tron,’ both released in 1982, as well as television shows. With the popularity of video and computer games, computing technology became a much more common sight at home and at work.
  • The late 1970s saw the birth of Apple and Microsoft, as well as the introduction of some of the first personal computers. PCs that were both affordable and small enough for home use were now available.

From the 1990s Onwards:

  • Today, the term “Computer Art” is used less frequently to describe artists and designers who work with computers. Many artists who now work with computers use this technology as just one tool among many that they can use interchangeably.
  • This is part of a larger trend toward artists and designers working in increasingly interdisciplinary settings. Many people no longer identify as practitioners of a particular medium.
  • James Faure Walker is a painter who also works as a digital artist. Faure Walker has been incorporating the computer into his painting practice since the late 1980s, incorporating computer-generated images into his paintings as well as painterly devices into his digital prints.
  • He alternates between drawing, painting, photography, and computer software, blending and exploiting the various characteristics of each. His work frequently plays on the contrast between physical and digital paint, and it can be difficult to tell the difference at times.
  • Faure Walker strives to complete at least one drawing per day, in pencil, pen, or watercolour. Rather than being figurative drawings of objects, these drawings are always abstract and have their roots in gestural mark-making.
  • Similarly, the artist explores digital motifs, or linear marks and patterns, using software packages such as Illustrator and Photoshop.

Various Types of Computer Art:

Computer Graphics

This is the most lucrative area of computer art, and it entails creating computer images with specialised software. The images can range from something as simple as a company logo to extremely complex animations and realistic computer generated film (special effects). They have transformed the computer game, film, and animation industries. Pixar Animation Studios, an award-winning computer animation studio, is just one example of industry success.

Art of Digital Installation

This is the application of computer technology to large-scale public art projects. It can involve projecting film or computer-generated images onto an object such as a wall or even the entire front of a building. The ‘artwork’ is typically movable and considered scaleable site-specific art, which means it can be beamed onto any surface, anywhere, to accommodate different spaces.

Imaginative Art

This is yet another way to create computer art. A work of generative art is one that was generated at random by a computer programme using a mathematical algorithm. To be considered generative art, the artwork must be created with a certain degree of autonomy – that is, with little or no artist influence. The artist usually establishes the ground rules for the formula, but the random process takes over after that. The computer may generate a painting or drawing that can be printed on paper or canvas. The introduction of artificial intelligence and robotic sculptures has resulted in new behaviours in this artform

Computer Illustration

This is the use of computer software, such as Adobe Illustrator, to create works of art that are similar to traditional fine art. While photographic elements may be used in such works, they are not the primary source of inspiration. Digital illustrations are frequently created from scratch. Designers in the fashion industry typically use it for design mock-ups.


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