Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Art v/s computer

The other day, there was a demonstration at the art school that I frequent. A renowned painter spoke on his life and works as did the faculty of the school. One of the key issues that came up was the relevance and scope of painting today. And that started me thinking… is painting a dying art, much like many other art forms where technology and the computer have taken over creativity?
Today at music studios there is no 40 piece orchestra or live recording. All you need is a computer and the necessary program to create any sound from any instrument. Luckily the singer is still human! Until now! As the exponents of our great tradition of classical music are aging and passing away, there are few takers from the new generation who have the desire to pass the baton forward. Imagine a world with no live performances by maestros with music only surviving in compact discs listened to in private. When I was a student of architecture, we toiled late hours completing our submissions on drawing boards bending and breaking our backs. Literally. Towards the end of my course we were introduced to CAD… computer aided drafting. Every successive architectural office I applied for and joined progressively replaced the drawing board with computers until the time when a drawing board and tee scale became obsolete in an architectural studio. I don’t know if students today can draft manually. I don’t know if I can! It’s been ages! I only remember that it was something I enjoyed a great deal using drafting pens on ivory sheets where imagination came alive on paper. Did you hear about this person who was playing solitaire on the table with cards? His friend popped in and asked, “Oh! I didn’t know you could play it without the computer!” Letter writing has long been buried, murdered by Internet! Even emailing is a thing of the past, making way for networking. The wireless world is bludgeoning in. Art is slowly perishing incognito.
Painting on computer is not new. In fact it is a recognized form of art. You don’t need colors or brushes or medium or paper. You can get any hue or shade of color without having to mix the colors. You can erase any blunder and rework. Is that the future of painting? Will our kids know and come to enjoy the joy of painting? Holding the brush instead of the mouse mixing the paints on the palette that emanates the faint odor of chemicals, the joy of mixing many colors to get that elusive brown or green and then applying it on hand woven paper where the texture adds to the character of the painting? Making mistakes and learning from them until you have perfected the lines and the tones…
Will manual painting end up as relics in a museum? It’s a scary thought….

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