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Claudia Cumbie-Jones
Ringling School of Art and Design

"There are two kinds of people in this world: those who divide everything into two groups, and those who don't."

- Kenneth Boulding

This issue of SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics is a focus on fine arts, with an emphasis on the integration of content and technology. Questions which were posed in the call for articles included the following:

  • How does the issue of visual literacy fit into the integration of content and technology?
  • How can artists achieve an holistic approach to content/technology in the face of continued upgrades/obsolescence?
  • How does this issue relate to the teaching of fine arts?
  • How do you critique a medium that won't settle?

The responses were diverse. Two articles focus on the issue of content in relation to virtual reality and art. Margaret Dolinsky and Sheldon Brown examine the content of their own artwork, and seek to identify the connections between their work and the elements of discourse to previous art movements.

Two articles address the soul and the spiritual in art. Dena Eber discusses the "soul in the machine" and finds that for her, the answer lies not in the machine, but in ourselves. Joan Truckenbrod focuses on the use of technology as a bridge between the external and internal world of the self.

Patricia Galvis-Assmus addresses the issue of teaching in a fine arts environment using technology, and finding successful methodologies for integrating content. Her discussion considers the role of content in both individual and collaborative works.

Finally, Karen Sullivan discusses the dichotomy of left brain/right brain content with her examination of the 1997 SIGGRAPH Art Show. Her article provides an examination of external vs. internal forms of inspiration, and creates a tapestry into which the other discourses may be woven.

Claudia Cumbie-Jones teaches in the Computer Animation Department at the Ringling School of Art and Design. She has taught at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago and University of Alabama at Birmingham. She received her bachelor of fine arts in theatre from Birmingham-Southern College, her master of arts in educational media from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her master of fine arts in art and technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Claudia Cumbie-Jones
Computer Animation Department
Ringling School of Art and Design
2700 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34234

Tel: +1-941-351-5100


The copyright of articles and images printed remains with the author unless otherwise indicated.

For me, the answers to these questions are part of an ongoing search for meaning in all we create. As I started this semester at Ringling, these issues came into focus again in my senior animation class. I see some students searching for external, formal elements upon which they can build a concept; I see others starting with a clear expression of their content and using it as a touchstone for technique. In my sophomore concept development class, I see students beginning to grapple with my efforts to unravel their preconceptions. For many of them, it is so much safer to focus on technique exclusively, because therein lies a perceived "right" answer. To them, I am the navigator that is telling them to sail to that place on the map marked "here there be monsters." Concept development is a scary thing, because it involves knowledge, not certainty.

From my perspective, I am grappling with new hardware (again), upgraded software (again) and trying to maintain a focus on content and concept in the face of continuing technological change. More and more I shun concrete answers in favor of a balance between perspectives. In my spare time I play with my cat, to remind myself that some interfaces are still very analog.

Technology has shaped my world, and has become a primary means by which I communicate my ideas. If I do not begin with an examination of the content I am communicating, I cannot answer any question as to what is the best way to communicate. I make these fundamental decisions in mundane ways every day of my life: should I phone, FAX or email? It depends on the content of the message; it depends on the response I wish to receive. Why should I not exploit the same logic in my art, and in the ways I teach art to others?

My thanks to all the contributors taking time from their busy schedules to provide an engaging and thorough exploration of these issues. Enjoy!