Caravaggio was a master of light and shadow much like the information we find on the internet. We’re seeing those extremes of light and shadow being acted out daily online. Lately I’ve been considering how this behavior is being played out in reference to painting. The energy of the artist when they create stays in that creation forever. When I stand in front of a painting at a museum it often feels like a telepathic conversation with the artist is going on. If I stare long enough at a piece, it reveals its secrets to me. I begin to visualize the step by step process of how the artist created it. A communion of souls, artist to artist. Fragments of the painting appear in my mind, about the model, what was going on in the studio, when it was time for lunch.
The digital world is a bit like compact fluorescent light bulbs: the color feels off and the energy is considered dirty. The emotions are stripped in the same way humor or sarcasm do not translate well in text messages. These are two of the most impactful negative effects of art seen on the internet. The colors are off and people don’t realize how distorted the image is. Just as porn progressively becomes more extreme to stand out, only the most garish and unsophisticated of art can often stand out in social media.
Unfortunately, one of the most hypocritical aspects of online social media is its arbitrary censorship of paintings. Facebook will show you a film of a murdered child and tell you it does not conflict with their policy but they will shut down your account if you show a painting that has won a national competition if you see part of the nude human body. It is censorship of the worst kind because it is hiding art skills taught for centuries while also normalizing violence.
Let’s take a moment to consider digital art in the internet art world. Digital art is an advertising or film tool, not fine art. Sorry, at best an electronic object is being used to draw in an electronic world, at its worst altering photos on a computer. This is not fine art. It is a skill, but it is not fine art.
Digital art is an ephemeral product with an ephemeral life span. Oil paintings will last centuries.
What other negative effects has the internet had on art? Sadly, it flooded the market with untrained people identifying themselves under the persona of an artist. They do not understand the foundations of art and thereby create structures that can not last. There is no understanding of materials, perspective, anatomy, design or color. If you combine people acting out the “persona” of an artist with the rampant rise in narcissism it is a very bad combination. Like narcissists, people have no idea how repulsive their art is coming off.
Schools have been removing the arts nationwide and focused more on internet skills. As a result, people have forgotten what it feels like to create. It is common for people fall in love with the object of their creation instead of recognizing it was the act of creation itself that they actually loved.
Sadly, the internet has flooded legitimate fine art competitions and galleries with untrained artists. It wastes the time of everyone and obfuscates established artists.
In the 1980’s I was competing with 80 people in an art competition. We each had to send in slides or expensive 4×5 negatives of our art. In the 90’s we were able to send slides but some galleries allowed compact discs. Suddenly we were competing with 800 people. Now most competitions can be entered online easily by uploading work but you can be competing against 8000! (Fortunately, some competitions will only accept original paintings for the jurying process).
The internet has made it easier to track copyright infringements, find stolen art, research artists, and find great art schools. It has also made it easier to follow museum and gallery exhibits and openings.
I post a figurative art stream on Twitter featuring contemporary artists. The gratitude I receive from artists and art lovers is my reward. So many people do not realize we are living in a renaissance of classically trained artists. If you would like to visit it please go to Twitter.com/Uridev.
Featured image: a studio session at the Angel Academy, Florence, Italy.