1. Introduction

What exactly is "digital art" and how shall we judge it? A digital work is, by definition, composed on or translated by or through a binary computer. A digital work is, collectively, a carefully defined set of "0's" and "1's" which have been used to encode data into files that can contain, for example, text, audio or visual information. A 35mm slide once scanned through a "slide scanner" can be "digitized" according to the inclinations of the equipment operator and then immediately printed on a "photo-realistic" inkjet printer at a level of quality to rival that of most any camera store. But is the product of this process a photograph?

With the possibilities offered by computers, peripherals and software, those who become competent with these new and ever-evolving technologies can make or alter images in ways never before available. Many artists and art critics agree, once visual information is converted into binary code it is possible to produce original images that are as visually and aesthetically stunning as those produced through any other medium. But, something more significant happens in that digital transformation; the information on the analogue material is transformed into a digital bitstream and enters the domain of a virtual world where origin has little value. This changes the concept of original artwork and establishes a new paradigm where the act of creation can be participatory and a shared community experience, allowing infinite variations. An analogous example in the world of traditional art might be the sand paintings of the Tibetan monks, of the Navajo of the Americas, and of the Australian aborigines; their works are transitory, community based, ever changing. Though digital imaging can be seen as simply another way to communicate visually and artistically, it is far more complex than traditional media providing a richer and broader artistic experience. Indeed, this ''new digital media'' is engaging us in ways that were not possible with the traditional media of art .

1.1 What is "new media" anyway

New media is, for the most part, a generalized term to describe the many forms of electronic communication which have appeared (or will appear) since the original introduction of online communication which were mainly text-and-static-picture products. By default a definition of new media most often includes any and all modes of moving digital and electronic information from one source to another, such as: special audiovisual effects of any kind; streaming video and streaming audio; 3-D and virtual reality environments and effects; highly interactive user interfaces; mobile presentation and computing capabilities; any kind of communication requiring high-bandwidth, CD and DVD media, telephone and digital data integration, online communities, microdevices with embedded systems programming, live Internet broadcasting (aka: streaming), person-to-person visual communication, one-to-many visual communication.

It can be said that new media emphasizes service over product where one can or may combine various elements of computing technology, telecommunications and intellectual content in a way that permits interactive use by a consumer, receiver or user. So, everyone has the potential to be a contributor/artist. In the emerging digital culture sharing information gives it value. In "new" media, interactivity is presented as a critical element. The idea of consumption is replaced with participation, where the user has a large choice and the freedom to combine various elements into new constructions. In some cases, digital processes can modify themselves and others bringing about a new type of participation and consciousness.

In terms of defining interactivity, web sites are sometimes good examples of new media because such constructs are accessible only through telecommunications technology and also because of the ways in which web design invariably incorporates a variety of media, including text, audio and animation. It is clear to even casual users of the web that the power of the medium comes partly from this ability to affect so many senses.

Even more powerful is the possibility offered by new media to allow an experience to be shaped by the user. In this way new media, unlike traditional forms of media (a book), does not typically exist with a single point of entry to the work or exit from the work. Users are often presented with numerous possibilities for entry, and these choices can then influence the options made available when exiting the work. In this way each encounter with the work can be crafted to be different from any earlier sessions, and a user's interactivity defines the experience [1].

Additionally, users of the term new media quite often emphasize the visual design aspects of the newest of the digital technology experiences. In this way the traditional field of design (both 2D and 3D) has been moved into the twenty-first century and mutated. For example, those who design new media or multimedia works have discourse using newly described operational terms for the design of these new media works, such as: sequenced media, time-based media, aural design, information engineering, interface design, interactive design, 3D computer modeling and animation, and motion graphics.

1.2 How to study digital media

How would one study to do such things? A typical curriculum in "digital media" at a school of art and design might include the following:

Combine this advanced and very contemporary curriculum with a heightened awareness of what might be done with digital technologies. Not since the printing press has there evolved such a significant agent for change.

1.3 Gallery art versus new digital media

But what about the difference between gallery art work commonly experienced and the new digital media works and experiments?

Many theorists write on the subject of new media. One of the more effective of these is Lev Manovich [2]. Consider the difference between, as Manovich has suggested in "The Language of New Media" (MIT Press 2001), the " ... dichotomy: an art object in a gallery setting versus a software program in a computer. On entering an exhibition of media art we encounter signs that tell us that we are in the realm of Art: the overall exhibition space is dark, each installation is positioned in a separate, carefully lit space, each accompanied by a label with an artist's name. We know well what to do in this situation: we are supposed to perceive, contemplate, and reflect. Yet these initial signs are misleading. An exhibition of media art points us to very different cultural settings such as a computer games hall or an entertainment park (in each of these one often has to wait in line before getting a chance to 'try' a particular exhibit) and also to a different type of cultural object (and, correspondingly, a different set of behaviors) -- a software program in a computer.''

With regard to Manovich's statement, I think that the sacred public space of the museum with it's perceptual, contemplative and reflective ambiance will not go away but be enhanced and extended beyond the walls of the museum.

Manovich goes on to say, ''In approaching a media artwork, we typically discover some elements of standard human-computer interface (a computer monitor, a mouse; arrows, buttons and so on); we have to read instructions which tell us how to do it; we then have to go through the process of learning its own unique navigational metaphors. All in all, the behaviors which are required of us are intellectual problem solving, systematic experimentation and the quick learning of new tasks. Is it possible to combine these with contemplation, perceptual enjoyment and emotional response? In other words, is it possible to experience the work aesthetically while simultaneously learning how to 'use' it?"

What do art critics and professors of new media think of such exhibitions? Of course, no two locations present the same sorts of works or experiences, but here is an example of one such critique from the "Wirednews" website (January 14, 2002) [3] about a single exhibition by artist Tom Kemp. Each of the writers dealing with this exhibition was considering a work that focuses on the technology of the handheld Palm computer. Kendra Mayfield, of Wired, accurately suggests that, "Artists have long toyed with the latest technologies to create pioneering works of art. In that tradition, Tom Kemp has created what he calls the first 'serious' contemporary artwork produced entirely on the handheld Palm computer. Putting aside the merits of Kemp's specific work, his claim begs a larger question: Is artwork 'serious' simply because it has been done using a previously unexplored medium?"

When considering this same exhibition, Peter Lunenfeld, who teaches in the graduate program in Communication and New Media Design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, shared these thoughts, "While such pioneering work is often interesting, the question is whether novelty alone is a useful criterion for art or merely a great excuse for talking about technology. Not everyone thinks that novelty is enough."

On this same subject Benjamin Weil, curator of media arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art also shared his views, "What difference does it make if it has been produced with a Palm of not? I think that deeming it the 'first serious work of art' is somewhat preposterous. I am really suspicious of techno-driven and techno-celebrating projects that desperately seek to be called art. Art is about ideas, not about technology. I would therefore suggest we stop being techno-fetishist, and getting all excited at the gizmo-ization of a practice that is obviously more than just gee whiz!"

What does the artist himself have to say? Although it is clear that other artists have previously created Palmtop computer artworks, Tom Kemp insists that his piece "Analysis" is different from these other Palm-based works. "There are a lot of paintings (done on the Palm). 'Some have been immaculately crafted,' Kemp said. "But they are exhibitions of skill, not necessarily exhibitions of art."

Along this thinking, Pixar's John Lasseter commented with regard to Toy Story that though all the computer scientists, artists and technologists working on Toy Story were excited by the technology alone, the technology in itself was not enough to make an engaging piece of art, something that moved the spirit. There must be a creative, imaginative storyline, theme, in both the message and design of the sensory elements conveyed through the digital media.

Most can agree that digital is revolutionary, unprecedented and marvelously powerful, but art is a balanced implementation of materials, processes and concepts, each of these being given varying priority depending on the focus of the artwork. Certainly all artwork is interpretive, and digital imaging (in its myriad forms) is the first truly new and unprecedented interpretive tool since the introduction of photography in the 1820's. Artworks accomplished with this new digital media have no historical precedent, and the comparison to photography is hardly worthwhile considering the magnitude of effect of digital technology. Where this new media will take us is not yet fully understood, but as Nicholas Negroponte (co-founder of the MIT Media Lab) has written in Being Digital [4], certainly the most facile future users of digital technologies will "live digitally."

2. Tools and Genre of the New Digital Media

Let's look at some of the tools and genre of the new digital media.

    1. 2D digital art

There are several excellent software programs for 2D imaging, for example the GIMP (acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program) [5], a freely distributed piece of software suitable for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, a image format converter, etc. Gimp runs on UNIX, Linux, OS/2, and there are Win32 and MacOS X ports. Some of the features of this program include:

Comparable commercial, proprietary based software are Adobe Photoshop and Corel Draw.

Painter 6.0 is a 2D digital painting program (Figure 1) that simulates the properties of water color art with a digital pad and pressure sensitive stylus. In evaluating the physical processes and product in natural and digital water color, a student made this interesting observation in his thesis [6]:

'' In the comparison of NWC (natural water color) and DWC (digital water color), it must be pointed out that, with DWC, it is easier for the user to control and manipulate images with the undo command and create images in adherence with an initial plan, i.e. an infinitely renewable canvas. NWC is difficult to predict and can not be undone, nor completely revised. If the effect we imagine is not successfully achieved in the NWC brushstroke on the paper, ... we should become creative and imagine how to incorporate this mistaken brushstroke esthetically into the design. This kind of revision that occurs in NWC is possible to simulate in DWC if we turn off the 'undo command,' but it may not be in human nature to do so. The point here is that the inability to endlessly undo mistakes in NWC compared to the DWC process is perhaps an impetus to creativity and gives an edge of excitement to every brushstroke. In fact, the possibility of the 'undo command' diminishes the importance of the movements.'' Akhiro Murakami [6]

Fig. 1 - ''Kao'' by Kaoru Ota in Painter 6.0

Fig. 1 - ''Kao'' by Kaoru Ota in Painter 6.0

Such thoughts remind us that though computer technology may seek to imitate or simulate techniques of traditional art, the computer as a tool and media for art is inherently different than the traditional tools and media of art. This intrinsic difference will shape and define the computer art experience and it will not be the same - nor can it be - as the traditional art form. Another way of saying this is -- how you choose to communicate an idea effects what is communicated. The tool itself will effect the outcome. Marchall McLuhan, former director of the Center for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto (Canada), wrote two very famous books about this in the 1960s called Understanding Media : The Extensions of Man [7] and The Medium is the Massage [8]. He stated that the ''the medium is the message'' (message and massage being a word play). In other words, the tool (or medium) itself makes us, shapes us, more than the content or product that it delivers. For example the technology of the car changes how cities are constructed and how people live together, regardless of what (content) is transported in the car.

If 2D art is transformed by the computer, let's see what happens when we add dimensions.

    1. 3D digital art and beyond . . .

When architects ask for computer visualizations of their designs in three dimensions, they have found the computer to be brutally honest. They may discover their designs on paper can not be built, and given no special treatment or effects, the computer visualization reflects only the artistic aesthetics of the design rather than the inclusion of an artist's or architect's idealizations. One needs to understand that a three dimensional model in the computer is not the same as a drawing on paper.

First, one creates a polygonal model using the Cartesian coordinate system (see CAD chapter). Then, using a rendering software such as POV-Ray [9], the computer ''paints'' a photo realistic image from the polygonal model which includes different types of lighting, textures, and atmospheric conditions. The computer can be far more effective in creating a photo realistic image than traditional art. Using polygonal models, the images produced go beyond simple analogue photography. Adding the fourth dimension - time, we create animation, where each frame is ''painted'' by the computer to create stunning visual and physical effects that are beyond the capabilities of human artists or photographic processes. For example, a human is hardly able to comprehend a million colors or consciously use them. Virtual cameras go where real cameras can not possibly be used. Natural and physical principles can be virtually applied to the digital artwork.

The 3D visualization of Sazaedo [10] (Figure 2), a unique Buddhist temple in the Aizu region of Japan, and its realtime VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) [11] walkthrough (Figure 3) demonstrate the artistic properties of such digital techniques for virtual heritage displays.

Sazaedo, rendered 3D CAD model with detail

Fig. 2 - Sazaedo, rendered 3D CAD model with detail

Fig. 3 - Sazaedo, VRML model

Fig. 3 - Sazaedo, VRML model

Applications like 3D Studio Max, Maya, Poser (for character animation), and many others have provided the capability for modeling virtual environments, enabling 3D "walk through" animations of historical sites, graphic representation of scanned artifacts, and so forth. Although there are too many examples to begin to list them all, one of the most impressive of these "walkthroughs" was made by the "Virtual Olympia" [12] project (Ogleby, 1999) directed by Cliff Ogleby of the University of Melbourne. The features of such complex commercial applications as Max and Maya are so vast that it is beyond the scope of this chapter, but students are encouraged to investigate them at their Internet websites [13, 14]. Of course, such sophisticated virtual and simulated effects are best showcased in animated films like Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Final Fantasy, Monster's Inc. and so on.

Furthermore, Internet based interactive realtime games such as Quake by ID Software [15] are amazing in their artistic detail and simulation of real world properties in imaginary environments running in realtime over multi-user and global networks. Though it is true that many such games focus on violent, combat scenarios, Calef and Vilbrandt point to a new arena for this media --the interactive virtual museum and gallery -- in their paper entitled ''Making It Realtime: Exploring the Use of Optimized Realtime Environments for Historical Simulation and Education.'' [16] In fact the CAVE experience (see 2.3 below) was conceived with such a purpose in mind, and we shall see in section 2.5 Simulation, how this concept is expanded to interactive augmented sculpture.

    1. CAVE

CAVE is a recursive acronym that stands for CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment. The CAVE [17] was originally conceived in 1991 by Thomas DeFanti and Dan Sandin (co-directors of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the US) and implemented by Carolina Cruz-Neira (a PhD student). The CAVE is a projection-based VR display whose design intends to avoid current limitations of VR systems such as poor image resolution, isolation from the real world, and inability to simultaneously share virtual experiences with multiple users. It premiered at the SIGGRAPH '92 conference.

In brief, the CAVE is a projection-based VR system (Figure 4). The illusion of immersion is created by projecting stereoscopic computer graphics into a cube composed of display-screens that completely surround the viewer. It is coupled with a head and hand tracking system to produce the correct stereo perspective and to isolate the position and orientation of a three-dimensional input device. A sound system provides audio feedback. The viewer explores the virtual world by moving around inside the cube and grabbing objects with a three-button wand-like device. The CAVE blends real and virtual objects in the same space so that a person has an unoccluded view of his/her own body as it interacts with the virtual objects.

Fig. 4 - CG model of CAVE

Fig. 4 - CG model of CAVE

In the CAVE, the viewer is completely surrounded by screens. Even though the viewer's field of view can vary for each individual screen, the total field of view for the system can be up to 360 degrees horizontal assuming a closed cube.

In the CAVE, multiple users can easily share the virtual experience by having each user wear a pair of stereo glasses. Unlike other virtual reality systems, the users interact with each other and not with their electronic ghosts; they can carry on a discussion inside the CAVE just as they would in a conference room setting. The ability to offer guided tours through data is a direct consequence of the ability to share the CAVE with multiple users. Typically an expert navigator can control the path traversed through the data while other viewers observe.

The wrap-around screens in the CAVE have great potential for successive refinement of images. The CAVE can be used to navigate the virtual space in realtime. Once a desired location has been reached, the viewer can request an enhanced non real time rendering to explore large and complex data or large stores of precomputed data that will not ordinarily respond well in realtime. The users, although they can no longer navigate, can still pan around without disorientation. Sound plays an important role in determining the immersiveness of an experience. The interaction between visuals and sound is very important feature of the CAVE experience.

At the University of Aizu, Japan, So Yamaoka is developing realtime music driven animation [18]. Music is analyzed in the computer using two audio analysis methods and two kinds of filters. An animation is then generated from the software; colored and textured shapes are moved in 3D space according to the audio analysis programming. Figure 5 shows a frame from the animation, in which the green circle, red square, and blue triangle move, expand, shrink - dance to the music in realtime.

Fig. 5 - Screenshot from realtime music driven animation

Fig. 5 - Screenshot from realtime music driven animation

An excellent example of the use of the CAVE concept for a definitive historical and artistic experience is Benjamin Britton's (University of Cincinnati) VR Cave at Lascaux installation, initiated in 1995. While the real prehistoric cave of Lascaux exists in the south of France, it is now closed to the public and sealed to preserve the thousands of prehistoric paintings on the cave's walls from moisture and bacteria.

Fig. 3 - Sazaedo, VRML model

Fig. 6 - One frame of the VR Lascaux by Benjamin Britton

The VR Lascaux (Figure 6) uses PC technology, motion sensors, and headphones, that are strapped onto the head for the "immersive" experience in the computer program. The motion sensors send movement commands to the computer controlled installation. The virtual reality computer then translates the motion of the head, looking up or down, turning left and right, into real time computer animation movement that mimics the direction that the headmounted sensors have turned. The VR Lascaux is very high quality, 16 million color, full motion renderings. Thousands of detailed prehistoric paintings are represented in the VR cave, allowing viewers some experience of this now forbidden treasure.

The immersive environment of the VR Lascaux gives us back somewhat of the real Lascaux, but just as importantly it is an artwork in itself joining past, present and future. Perhaps, the words of the artist can best tell us about this digital work:

"Humanity is terrified of the future, holds civilization in contempt, and is alienated from the natural world. We must realize the relationship of our society today with human society of the most ancient past and most distant future. To be a human being is to be trapped in the river of time with countless other living forms with whom one can communicate; and, finding that the beauty of this inescapable fact is essential for making life on this plane worthwhile. To connect our culture to the cultures of all time is the purpose of LASCAUX: to take part in the virtually endless tradition of life." Benjamin Britton [19]

Mathematics in digital art

''Sometimes the pictures one gets remind one of some familiar system in nature. And sometimes they look like the creations of a human artist. But often they are something different. They have parts reminiscent of nature. And parts that one could imagine being created by human artists. But then they have unexpected elements, like nothing seen before, together with a vast range of details far beyond what any unaided artist could ever produce.'' Stephen Wolfram

Fig. 7 - Graphica artwork by Dr. Igor Bakshee

Fig. 7 - Graphica artwork by Dr. Igor Bakshee
Stephen Wolfram [20], scientist, creator of Mathematica [21], and author of A New Kind of Science (cellular automata theory) is speaking about Graphica [22], a collection of unique color illustrations, created with Mathematica software, a technical visualization and modeling tool, using algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and other fields of traditional mathematics. The images in Figures 7, 8 and 9 illustrate the creative power of mathematics in art.

Fig. 8 - Graphica artwork by Dr. Igor Bakshee

Fig. 8 - Graphica artwork by Dr. Igor Bakshee

Fig. 9 - Graphica artwork by Dr. Michael Trott
Other visually stunning contributions from the world of mathematics include fractals, which (simply stated) are irregular fragmented shapes that exhibit intricate structure at all sizes so that details are reminiscent of the entire object ( a property known as self-similarity). Julia [23] and Mandelbrot [24] sets are the source of some of the most beautiful fractal creations (Figures 10 &11).

Fig. 10 - Fractal artwork by Luc-Andre Rey [25]
Fig. 10 - Fractal artwork by Luc-Andre Rey [25]

Fig. 11 - Fractal artwork by Luc-Andre Rey [25]
Fig. 11 - Fractal artwork by Luc-Andre Rey [25]
''Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.'' Benoit Mandelbrot [26]

    1. Simulation

''. . . the use of computer hardware and software to aid the artist in the creative process can be seen as a set of sophisticated tools, analogous to the use of

the brush and canvas or the chisel and marble, leading to machine mediated augmentation of human creativity.'' [27]

Computer technology can aid the artistic sculpture process from sketching or designing the initial idea and exploring a variety of different shapes to the physical production of the sculpture. Computer artists/scientists/specialists such as Carlo Sequin [28], Bruce Beasley [29], Stewart Dickson [30] and Helaman Ferguson [31] are doing this in unique ways. The reader is encouraged to investigate the aforementioned artists' related websites (from the references at the end of this chapter) in order to see and understand this new computer assisted art.

A few artists/computer scientists are conducting a more searching exploration of forms that can be generated only with computers. Two of these are William Latham and Stephen Todd, collaborating on creating stunningly complex, virtual shapes using methods of natural evolution and artificial life. Their computer programming sets up a basis of aesthetic choices so that the final form is not predetermined, and the evolutionary program gives rise to a new type of kinetic ''virtual'' sculpture. [32] This art goes beyond using a new tool to perform old artistic tricks.

Alexei Sourin is a computer scientist interested in various craft forms such as carving, embossing (the art of decorating metal by means of hammers and punches to create a raised surface), and woodcutting. He has implemented an interactive digital system for virtual embossing and woodcuts with realistic rendering [33]. A pressure sensitive graphics tablet and a six degree of freedom haptic input device is used to realistically simulate the depth of penetration of the tools used in these traditional crafts. What is interesting about Sourin's system is that it uses interactive function-based shape modeling [34] where relatively small formulae are used rather than thousands of polygons. Interactive modification of the function model with concurrent visualization of the respective parts allows interactivity and any required level of detail leading to photo-realistic appearance of the resulting shapes. What is remarkable about Sourin's work is his complete digital synthesis of a traditional three dimensional art form.

Using technology based on function representation (F-rep) of geometric models [34], computer scientists, Valery Adzhiev and Alexander Pasko, Russian sculptor, Igor Seleznev, and an international team of researchers are collaborating on an approach which they call ''augmented sculpting.'' [27] A computer model is made of an existing physical sculpture and then manipulated to produce new shapes that can be manufactured with traditional techniques or computerized rapid prototyping and 3D printers [35] to produce a new, different physical sculpture.

Function representation methods actually employ constructivist techniques that allow the emulation of physical or virtual ''building blocks'' in the form of geometric primitive shapes that can be combined in complex spatial relationships. The team has developed a specialized high-level language, HyperfFun [36], which allows for a parameterised description of functionally-based multidimensional geometric shapes, and recently, ''Hypervolume'' modeling [37] has been introduced allowing for more complex effects. For example, one could design the material block from which a sculpture is carved using the geometric model of a different sculpture or some other object with different material properties and yet retain features and elements of each depending on their intersections and unions. Furthermore, the HyperFun toolkit supports an original technique to successfully metamorphose key-shapes of differing topologies and also obtain their intermediate shapes. Such multidimensionality, metamorphosis of shape and material, begins to enter the world of analysis and simulation that is beyond our imagination.

Perhaps, the ''Augmented Sculpture Installation'' [27] is the next step beyond the CAVE, where one not only experiences but actually creates objects of art, in which an ''interactive sculpture'' is both physical and virtual and where the virtual world is overlaid on the physical world, where the tool is inseparable from the creation . . . is as real as computer art gets.

(Jun, what I mean by ''real as it gets'' is genuine, authentic experience.)

3. Conclusion

The computer is a ubiquitous device that because of its power can be used to simulate, replace and extend beyond the reaches of its analogue counterparts. But what, in the end,

is computer art? If we follow Marshall McLuhan's the ''media is the message,'' then we might consider programming the essence of computer art where no visualization is taking place at all. Some say that technology alone is not enough to create art; art is about ideas. But, ''living digitally'' will birth new ideas about culture, nature, life, death, the universe and everything -- and that will create new art, digitally ... certainly.

''The personal and social consequences of any medium - that is, of any

extension of ourselves - result from the new scale that is introduced into

our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.''

Marshall McLuhan [7]


1. Describe several ways that ''new media'' and traditional art are the same? are different?

2. How might you study to be a computer artist? What kinds of computer tools would you use? (Describe them briefly.)

3. Do an Internet search for computer art and artists mentioned in this chapter and others not mentioned. Describe their work and give specific URLs.

4. Create a piece of computer art or ''new media''.

5. Read about the CAVE and the Augmented Sculpture Installation [27]; then, design your own CAVE experience.

6. What do you think Mandelbrot is saying in:

''Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.''

What meaning does this have for the computer artist and artist in general?

7. Do a comparison of 3D digital art, mathematic generated art, and function-based (function representation generated) art. ((Include the key features of each.)

8. Explain ''the media is the message''. Give examples.


  1. Labadie, John Antoine, The New Media Soup

  2. Lev Manovich,

  3. Mayfield, Kendra, ''It's New Media, But Is It Art?'',,1284,39872,00.html

  4. Negroponte, Nicholas, Being Digital, Vintage Books, January 1996.

  5. The GIMP,

  6. Murakami, Akihiro, ''Comparing Natural Watercolor with Digital Watercolor,'' Graduation Thesis University of Aizu, March 2001.

  7. McLuhan, Marshall, Understanding Media : The Extensions of Man, MIT Press, Reprint edition (October 20, 1994).

  8. McLuhan, Marshall, et al, The Medium is the Massage, Gingko Press Inc., Reprint edition (June 2001).

  9. POV-Ray,

  10. Vilbrandt, C., Goodwin, J., et al., ''Computer Models of Historical Sites, Sazaedo -- From the Aizu History Project'',

  11. Web 3D Consortium, VRML,

  12. Ogleby, Cliff, ''Virtual Olympia'',

  13. 3ds max,

  14. Maya,

  15. Quake, id Software,

  16. Calef, C., Vilbrandt, T., et al., ''Making It Realtime: Exploring the Use of Optimized Realtime Environments for Historical Simulation and Education,'' Musems and the Web 2002,

  17. The CAVE Virtual Reality Theater,

  18. Yamaoka, So, ''Real-time Music Driven Animation with Variable Frame Rate and User Controllable Smoothing'', University of Aizu, February 2001.

  19. Britton, Benjamn, ''From Lascaux to the Moon'', VSMM 2000, Gifu, Japan.

  20. Stephen Wolfram,

  21. Mathematica,

  22. Graphica,

  23. Joyce, David E.,''Julia and Mandelbrot Set Explorer'',

  24. Mandelbrot Explorer,

  25. Rey, Luc-Andre,

  26. Benoit Mandelbrot,

  1. Adzhiev, V., Cominous, P., Pasko, A., ''Augmented Sculpture: Computer Ghosts of Physical Artefacts'', Leonardo Journal, MIT Press (accepted 2002).

  2. Carlo Sequin,

  3. Bruce Beasley,

  4. Stewart Dickson,

  5. Helaman Ferguson,

  6. Todd, S., Latham, W., Evolutionary Art and Computers, Academic Press, 1992.

  1. Sourin, Alexei, ''Interactive Function-based Shape Modeling'',

  2. Shape Modeling and Computer Graphics with Real Functions,

  3. Z Corporation - 3D Printers,

  4. HyperFun,

  5. Pasko, A., Adzhiev, V., Schmitt, B., Schlick, C., ''Constructive Hypervolume Modeling'', Graphical Models, Vol. 64, No.2, 2002.

Answers to Exercises:

Note: The nature of computer art and its interpretation is for the most part subjective. Therefore, answers to the exercise questions are not precise and many possibilities exist beyond the sample answers given here. However, the student should include some of the points from the chapter reading, and it is hoped be inspired to some creative answers as well.

1. Describe several ways that ''new media'' and traditional art are the same? are different?

-- are the same?

--are different?

2. How might you study to be a computer artist?

in new media.

What kinds of computer tools would you use? (Describe them briefly.)

3. Do an Internet search for computer art and artists mentioned in this chapter and others not mentioned. Describe their work and give specific URLs.

Tom Kemp:

Pixar / John Lasseter: <and>

Cliff Ogleby:

Benjamin Britton:

Igor Bakshee:

Michael Trott:

Fractals / Luc-Andre Rey:

Carlo Sequin:

Bruce Beasley:

MathArt / Stewart Dickson: <and>

Helaman Ferguson:

Stephen Todd / William Latham:


4. Create a piece of computer art or ''new media''.

5. Read about the CAVE and the Augmented Sculpture Installation [27 - V. Adzhiev, et al., “Augmented Sculpture: Computer Ghosts of Physical Artifacts,” Leonardo, Vol. 36, No.3,

pp. 221-219, 2003, URL: ]; then, design

your own CAVE experience.

6. What do you think Mandelbrot is saying in:

''Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.''

What meaning does this have for the computer artist and artist in general?

Mandelbrot was speaking about how the Euclidean geometry of cones and spheres does not describe reflect the world of nature. He was referring to the complexity and fractal nature of the natural world and how it can be represented by repetitive mathematical patterns such as Mandelbrot's fractal math. For the computer artist, it is the merging of art, mathematics, and science through the use of a computer. For all artists in general, the complexity of Mandelbrot's non-Euclidean world presents new, fascinating and complex views of the natural world that challenge old perceptions and inspire new interpretations.

7. Do a comparison of 3D digital art, mathematic generated art, and function-based (function representation generated) art. ((Include the key features of each.)

3D digital art is created by software like 3D Studio MAX or Alias Wavefront's Maya. They are animation packages based on the use of polygonal models. Animation movie companies such as Pixar and Disney use this type of software to create expensive feature animations. It might be called commercial digital art.

Mathematically generated digital art like fractals are used by artists and scientists. This mathematically generated art may look like nature, may even describe aspects of nature, but is not natural in the sense of the traditional meaning. The level of detail is so great that an artist could not make these by hand. It could be called automatic art.

Function representation based digital art is based on the use of functions to define geometric shapes, their volume and real metamorphosis over time. It is being developed by computer scientists and offers new exciting levels of computer modeling for the future. For example, it can allow for computerized 3D printing of complex, compound shapes not able to be imagined or constructed manually. It could be a multidimensional digital art of the future.

8. Explain ''the media is the message''. Give examples.

Media can be considered as tools, and as man creates tools, those tools by their very nature effect man regardless of the content or lack of content they may deliver. For example, it is often said that “guns don't kill people, people kill people” as a rationale against gun control. However, consider the recent phenomenon of “driveby” shootings in the U.S. -- by contrast,

a “driveby” knifing is just not very effective. So, this gruesome example demonstrates how a tool facilitates human action. Another example, an unforeseen side affect of the invention of the printing press was the fragmentation of society and individual isolation, as the portable book could be read in private diminishing the oral tradition and collective community. Recent study of children and video games ....