It was brought to my attention recently that some people are of the mindset that the digital print is dead in the fine art world. Seeings how I have a fond attachment to the printed image I thought I'd investigate this claim a bit. Now mind you I am also going to argue why what is currently trending shouldn't matter to the individual artist but I thought it was interesting that some would believe this so here we are.
Digital Art, Interactive Art, New Media, Software Art, and on and on. So many ways to "label" artwork made with technological tools. Where does the Digital Image / Digital Print fit within the slew of directions one could take artwork made with the vast array of technology available to us today? There are few galleries that focus on Digital Art alone as the market is not that strong for web based, interactive, and otherwise non-traditional formats. Bitforms gallery in NYC carries digital prints but they are typically process oriented in that they use technology in an innovative way to convey their message. Not too much on the less is better approach to technology there. Nothing wrong with that but where does the artist choosing to pare down the complexities of the medium go to find representation?
While wandering down Canyon Rd in Santa Fe I happened upon Deborah Oropallo's work at the Turner Carroll Gallery and fell in love. These limited edition digital prints were intriguing both visually and conceptually and were selling for $12,000 - $16,000 dollars a piece. Her process is one of layering and manipulating the photographic imagery in a painterly fashion on screen. I'm not sure if what they are selling for constitutes as a fortune to some in the art market at large but in my eyes it shows they are valued to say the least.
Digital Images are found mostly in galleries that house photography or an eclectic mix of mediums. These images formed on screen and printed on any number of mediums (paper, canvas, aluminum, wood, etc.) are treated either as a derivative of photography or as just another piece of work where the medium is not as important as the end result.
Photography has morphed and changed so much within the digital age that it is hard to pin down unless you are going to purely traditional route of film. Artists working with photographs as a source, even if they are manipulating, layering, painting on, or otherwise transforming them either on or off screen, have become accepted within the photographic realm in many galleries today. Maggie Taylor, a very well known digital collage artist, is showing and selling all over the world in photo galleries.
The most telling thing is when digital artists show work in higher end galleries and are not collected for the bells and whistles but rather the raw power of the art. I love finding digital prints shown side by side with paintings and sculpture. Nothing more satisfying then to see the work of digital artists blending into the scene and being purchased for the strength of the work rather then what was used to make it. And this brings me to my final statement....
If you are a true artist and someone happens to tell you that what you are making is not popular anymore should this deter you from making what you are passionate about? Absolutely not. In fact it should fuel you to make more of whatever it is that you are making. If the work is strong it will gain attention no matter how it was made. It is not about the medium, again to risk sounding like a broken record here, it is about the maker. If the artist is making work that resonates and reflects the soul the printed image will hold the power of the individual and that is something can always transcend a passing trend.