Art in the Digital Age from a Personal Perspective
Peter Petersen - November, 2007
Art and artwork, and here only to talk about painted art as a whole, of course it’s for one's own benefit, but also to develop some sort of understanding with whatever it is, a reality of some sort, and then to find a tool sufficiently appropriate for that sort of move. Not a long philosophical discussion but to find out, what "new" does the computer bring in, as well as the context in which we have to see it compared with other forms of expression. Only because, without any clarification of where we are, including the tools now available to us - the computer. First and foremost, it is perhaps to have a look at it with fresh eyes. Does it really bring in anything new? Serious answers to some questions we may ask, or is it just another instrument in some form of eternal entertainment to make us feel that we are maybe doing something (like) art and artwork, for example?
What can we then question, ever since the birth of mankind, with ways to illustrate the world around us (and what it is), and what does it mean, all from those hunters illustrating various animals in the caves to people later on illustrating other people and landscapes around them? And now, when we are in a period where, too, the emotional and psychology are in some ways considered to be a sort of reality, where then does so called abstract painting come in?
Personally seen, I lean very much towards the emotional, or some form of inner reality, which is ultimately far (different) from any sort of "virtual reality", even though I am working in that same way. What else did they do, in their way of course, those working way back in the caves, to find out where they were and then how that "reality" actually came together?
In contrast, I have to first re-define, "what is reality for me and what is not?" We can all agree that dreams and ideals are not merely dreams and ideals and nothing else. Dreams are always absolute - absolute love, for instance - and once we seem to understand, it seems to very soon vanish and fade away. We have of course all heard of absolute situations, such as Paradise and eternal life. Hell, on the other hand, is very relative - "a hellish situation" is something we all know about and hopefully haven't experienced for too long. I have what we could call a "synesthetic nerve", for example, hearing and experiencing music as colors. Sound and music are spatial, and now also colors. So suddenly, for me there is another ideal reality that comes along, an ideal in the sense that I cannot grasp, but at the same time gives rise to a certain urge to come to terms with it and maybe try the impossible task of how to explain it. Indeed, I am not the only one, where sometimes autism and even schizophrenia comes in. It’s simply so overwhelming.
Synesthesia or no synesthesia, it is not all painters and artists who are "synesthetes", as best only a few of them. It can also be with so many things like forms, taste, tones, music and as well as numbers. Of course, my approach is as with all of those other painters who in my eyes have tried to solve a problem parallel to the one I am now involved with. The solutions that I’ve found or that they’ve sometimes found (other painters) is within abstract painting. So I question, are there sometimes within people an attempt to purify their things through feelings of colors, almost Zen-like, to maybe come to terms with both the absolute and the relative?
Perhaps to use the word "quest" can best explain the urge to "find out" and moreover, examine more closely techniques of painting, to still continue on a traditional canvas (I still have plenty of color pigments and oils back from both my father and grandfather), or does the computer really bring in something new?
Previously and in this same context, the first thing was (and is) to work in layers. Even hundreds of years ago, during the Renaissance and even before, there was a real craftsmanship, where sometimes they used to taint their canvas in a different and normally more somber color for the final outcome. So, for me there is still plenty of work to be done, for example with a bottom layer of deep red, deep Prussian blue or also emerald and even black, which in the end could come to almost jump out in the eyes of the spectator.
On a computer monitor, the screen is always black for a start and the number of colors here to be seen is always bigger than what can be seen on any piece of paper. Moreover, with things already mentioned, an absolute color, whatever it is, is in no way any better or any more tangible than, for example, absolute love. To speak of fantasies and hallucinations (always a little too far away and if they come, always in the past), are they feelings we’ve lost that have gone away? Catching butterflies could be another expression for the same, because once we catch them and they die, they are nothing. The thing is to find an instrument, a form of expression, where somehow we can come to terms with how to convey an idea of what it is, or was.
With a computer, the technique I’ve now come to use is only a technique or method and therefore at the disposal of whatever person wants to take any benefit from it. But very powerful it is, for example, recently I’ve tried it out together with a photographer, whose photographs were then reaching new and so far unseen levels.
|Art work - Peter Petersen|
One obvious thing now to all of us is when one picture is put after the other with a certain amount of frames per second, it comes out like movement - we combine. In other words, in talking about frames, not as frames but layers, it is somehow a bit like spreading out layers from a canvas, not underneath but next to one another and in time. With maybe twenty-four new layers coming in per second, the same thing is then going to happen - we combine, though very differently, and we sometimes see other and new colors that are not there once it (the painting) comes to a halt. People are sometimes asking me whether they can have a print and then become disappointed in what they see, as the result is always on the move and not in a single frame. And again, talking about those photographs, it clearly shown that it is not so much a fade-in fade-out, but rather a grow-in and grow-out, and maybe it is only to over-interpret the impact that is indeed very strong? It is to create or imitate the idea of loss or disappearance of things, frames to go away and after, all in a sense of growing or growth. Within our minds and memory, according to a row of pictures or colors still running, what then is it that seems to occur that could be a fairly indiscriminate, very fragile, yet most distinctive idea of looking somewhat beyond, well into the emotional and into the absolute love or color, or both?
But back to earth, for me it is only a plain, simple way of working, for example - how do I find, grasp and understand my problem? Maybe as a certain deep red, green or blue, but also, with both legs still well planted on the ground, finally to have found with a computer a pen or brush-like sensation, almost like veins running into the instrument itself.
It is very important for me to push the limits of concentration still further, a painting - and it has to be there - produced not in hours (and why not?), where the actual time limit for a final outcome is between eighteen or twenty minutes, only after a process of working that has taken months or maybe years to develop and even then with sometimes a fairly dense work schedule. Only a few days ago did I see what is probably the final result of now many years of work or process. Very beautiful it is, and very intense, almost twenty minutes and with still a combination of landscape, photographs and painting. But, seen with all its predecessors, sixteen or even many more, all of them and at least at some point running through their each sixty to eighty gigabytes or sometimes even worse.
|Art work - Peter Petersen|
Moreover, so far the best condition to have in order to appreciate, sometimes almost like looking into the void, is silence. No sound side, unless I’m really forced to, and it happens. Also, to realize that this is definitely not a normal sort of animation (and not even an animated painting), but a painting that changes or moves, a painting where, just like any other, it is to be put up on a flat screen, still bigger and better, and then with a simple DVD.
Procedure? Basically seen, very much like lessons in good cooking; choice of ingredients and things maybe to be put together, a little pinch of this and a little touch of that. Then with some simmering, call it rendering, maybe for so and so many hours and mostly probably even days, but with still other things to be added and again and so on – and all or most of it in my still favorite saucepan - Autodesk 3D Studio, formerly DOS, now Max.
Peter Petersen is a Danish Artist that is currently residing in Spain where he also has his studio.