mist opportunities [again]


a straight photograph; morning mist, winter…


with some digital blurs applied…


then with a dark vignette…

The original photograph had, by nature’s own means, some readymade atmosphere… I could, I suppose, use some mechanical filters to achieve a similar effect, as I am not a fan of post-processing in digital photography – in the deceit of any number of wow and pop effects – aka ‘photoshopped’…

It seems to me that when using digital technology the artist should have a rough idea of the visual outcome they want to achieve and then experiment with the tools to realise the vision or intention.

David Hockney quite likes using computers… as does Julian Opie… so computers can be good tools for artists…

This painting, by the British artist Gary Hume, displays the digital effects of Photoshop’s pointillize filter, but this was ‘painted‘ in 1998… he must have been one of the first to use Photoshop software as a ‘creative’ tool…

Gary Hume, Bird point III, 1998 – gloss paint on aluminium

Here’s a little Photoshopped  ‘Humeresque‘ I made earlier, (in the ‘Blue Peter’ tradition, of course)…

Created from this original photograph…

Like many successful international artists, Gary Hume has a painter’s assistant… he ‘can’t bear doing the really fiddly bits’ apparently. The painter and the assistant must be a strange relationship to maintain, when the fabrication of the work has to embody the style and technical skill(?) of one artist… I wonder if the ‘artist‘ in such a situation ever feels that the assistant is the more accomplished craftsman (if not the artist), or if the assistant sees the role as a type of apprenticeship, providing the necessary first steps to their own success…

Software such as Photoshop can provide new creative tools (or assistance) in making art. As mentioned, Hockney excels in exploiting the finer nuances of the capabilities of the software; looking at Hockney’s new digital drawings one doesn’t immediately want to recall the brand of software used. Another artist, Paul John Taylor, who came to my attention via Jerwood Painters 2009 (exhibition reviewed here), seems to be using digital filters to design his paintings (referencing media photographs) – they apppear to look as though a selected photograph has been post-processed with filters (as with Gary Hume’s painting above) and then are mechanically painted (or reproduced) onto canvas.


Paul John Taylor Bombed Beirut, second from right

I had a little go with some digital filters and visual effects. Below is a news image I found on Reuters that I have digitally manipulated showing similar image manipulation methods.


[click to view larger]

I am fascinated by the desire or concept to translate digitally manipulated images back into handcrafted paintings – the painting becomes a reproduction (or facsimile) of its digital counterpart – validated as art by the very materiality of paint as opposed to pixels. They could print them straight onto canvas or panel, but then they wouldn’t be original paintings.

Whereas Opie and Hockney use the tools of technology in very individual ways (in both artist’s work mechanical drawing or mark-making is a part of the process) with very distinct visual outcomes, Taylor and Hume seem to have merely appropriated the built-in filters and effects of the software. The British artist Maggi Hambling (whose recent seascape paintings display the energy of both the artist and the subject matter) once said that ‘photography is inevitably a dead thing’, so perhaps digital manipulation just continues the flogging…

2 Comments

  1. Posted May 30, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Most interesting post & issues raised, as ever, Jazz – I particularly like your point of the artist needing to have at least some idea of the visual outcome(s) to be achieved when employing digital manipulative technology, which seems most important to the creative process, not be lead completely blindly or ‘happily accidentally’, perhaps.

    Strange thing, but for all the drawings I made from media images & then degraded photocopies of such, I’ve yet to be tempted to use digitally manipulated images as source material…perhaps such don’t suggest sufficient mark-making potential for transcription purposes. One to ponder, anyway (thanks!)…

  2. Posted June 4, 2010 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the comment. I guess I should have mentioned Michael Craig-Martin too in relation to both Opie & Hume. On reflection, technology and painting seem always to have been interconnected, eg. the Renaissance, Da Vinci, to the likes of Vermeer, Canaletto etc – and as shown by Hockney’s own investigations. Hockney, it seems, takes what is clever and powerful about technology (speed, detail, scalability, rapid dissemination), then makes it his own creative device…