Handbook of Multimedia for Digital Entertainment and Arts- P21

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Handbook of Multimedia for Digital Entertainment and Arts- P21: The advances in computer entertainment, multi-player and online games, technology-enabled art, culture and performance have created a new form of entertainment and art, which attracts and absorbs their participants. The fantastic success of this new field has influenced the development of the new digital entertainment industry and related products and services, which has impacted every aspect of our lives.

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  1. 602 A.F. Marcos et al. enabled this communication or interaction phenomenon to occur. The role of the spectator may become gradually more active by interacting with the artwork itself possibly changing or becoming a part of it [2][4]. When we focus our analysis on the creation process in digital art we easily con- clude it is intrinsically linked with the design and development of computer-based artworks. By exploring computer technologies digital art opens to new type of tools, materials and artworks as also establishes new relationships among creators, art- works and spectators or observers, largely not comparable to previous approaches. Indeed we can describe art objects as simple symbolic objects that aim at stim- ulating emotions. They are created to reach us through our senses (visual, auditory, tactile, or other), being displayed by means of physical material (stone, paper, wood, etc.) while combining some perceptive patterns to produce an aesthetic composi- tion. Digital art objects differ from conventional art pieces by the use of computers and computer-based artifacts that manipulate digitally coded information and digital technologies, i.e., they explore intensively the computer medium, what opens un- limited possibilities in interaction, virtualization and manipulation of information. These digital art objects or artifacts, where some are possibly non-tangible, con- stitute, in fact, the resulting product from the artistic creation process that together establishes a common communicational and informational space. Information or information content, meaning the intended message of each artifact, is a central con- stituent of this common communicational and informational space. Accordingly, artistic artifacts, may these be of digital or physical nature can be defined as in- formational objects. The computer medium is defined here as the set of digital technologies ranging from digital information formats, infrastructures to process- ing tools that together can be observed as a continuum art medium used by artists to produce digital artifacts [9][10] (see Fig. 1). When we consider the creation process itself, we can establish its beginnings when the creator gets an hold of the first concept or idea resulting from his/her sub- jective vision, gradually modeled into a form of (un)tangible artifact. It constitutes the message, this about something, the artist wants to transmit to the world. When Digital Art • Digital Information Content • Stone • Multimedia & Multimodal • Hood • Mechanical & Ubiquitous Technology • Ceramic • Electrical • Communication & Presentation • Pigment • Electronic & Storage Infrastructures •… Components •… Physical Virtual World World Mechanic Computer- Interactive Virtual Real Permanent Electronic based Digital Transient Passive Artifacts Artifacts Artifacts Interactive Continuum Art Medium Fig. 1 The Continuum Art Medium
  2. 27 The Creation Process in Digital Art 603 digital content is used in this process, it can be both the means and the end product. On one hand, the digital content can be explored as the means to create non-digital artifacts, as for instance, digitally altered paper-based photography, and, on the other hand, be the end-result intended as it is the case in animated comics. In fact, digital art applies the computer medium both as raw material (e.g. the dig- itally coded information content) and as a tool of enhancing creativity. The reader shall become aware of the fact that raw material is related here to unprocessed (or in minimally processed state) material that can be acted by the human labor to create some product. Similarly, digitally coded information content can be manipulated by digital artists to create artistic objects. When in the creation process, digital artists apply information content along with technologies from multimedia, virtual reality, computer vision, digital music and sound, etc. as also the information and com- munication infrastructure available such are the internet, presentation devices, and storage arrays, among others, to create interactive installations and generate digital artifacts. Therefore, the computer medium traverses effectively all the stages of the creation process, from concept drawing until the final artifact production and exhi- bition. Today’s powerful editing and programming tools make it possible to an artist to modify, correct, change and integrate information content as valuable raw mate- rial in the creation process, that may be presented in several digital formats such are text, image, video, sound, 3D objects, animation, or even haptic objects. We are here interested in the creation process of the artifact per si, following a model based in what Routio, in his works on arteology (the science that studies the artifacts), labels as project-specific artistic development that purports to assist the creation of a single artifact (or a series of them) by defining its goals and providing the conceptual model on which the work of art shall be based [12]. Thus and because it deals intensively with the computer medium, in digital art this creation pro- cess inherits aspects from computer systems development (even hardware=software engineering) and design process. The artifact’s message, narrative and end-shape de- sign is pivotal as also its technological implementation and final deployment within a exhibition space [7][8]. Moreover, artistic communities need to have access to common technological infrastructures that facilitate collaboration (collaborative editing, annotating, etc.), communication and sharing of work experiences, of materials, being these, unpro- cessed digital content or final artifacts, activities that are essential for a soft progress from the starting concept to the final artwork. We argue here that as in other human activities, artistic creation benefits from the collaboration within a community of equals while having access to materials and tools. Such common information space is in effect a creative design space; thought design (in the sense of shaping) is the fundamental activity in the creation process of digital art. In this chapter we propose to analyze and discuss the main concepts and defini- tions behind digital art while proposing a model for the creation process in digital art. It allows for a smooth progress from the concept=idea until the final product (artwork) while exploring the computer medium to its maximum potential. The chapter is divided in the following sections: first we give an overview of the back- ground of digital art in terms of its fundamental concepts and developing vectors.
  3. 604 A.F. Marcos et al. Next we describe the creation process for digital art, embracing the creative design space architecture while presenting concrete examples. Finally we draw out some conclusion. Digital Art Fundamentals Digital art has its roots within the first decades of the twentieth century with isolated experiments created by a few visionaries whose results were mostly exhibited in art fairs, conferences, festivals and symposia devoted to technology or electronic media. These first artworks have been mostly classified as marginal to the mainstream art world. Alike in the Dadaist art movement some of these artworks were seen as a form of anti-art. The development of science and technology has been the principal engine of the evolution of digital art. But, what we know today as digital art has been strongly influenced by several art movements such were, among others, Fluxus, Dada, and Conceptual Art. These movements brought into digital art the emphasis on formal instructions, the focus on concept, on the event per se, and also, the emphasis on the viewer’s participation, contrasting to the art based on unified static material objects. From the Dadaism specifically, digital art inherited the concept of creating art by using precise predefined rules, i.e., a finite set of instructions generates the final artwork (a poem, a painting). The rule’ or algorithm’ instruction was adopted as the conceptual central element in the creation process. Instruction-based art is a fertile soil of today’s digital art. Similarly, the Fluxus art movement has also extensively explored the idea of instruction-based generated art along with the immersion of the audience in the event, forcing an interaction between the spectator and the artworks. Influences from the Conceptual art, a movement emerged in the 1960s, came from its central statement “the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work”. This is still a way of thinking and practice common to many digital artists in all over the world. The concept or idea is the leitmotif for the shaping of the digital artifact. It means that “all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair, i.e., the idea becomes a machine that makes the art”, by artist Sol LeWitt (1967). Digital art, as it is known nowadays, entered the world art in the late 1990s when museums and art galleries started increasingly to incorporate digital art installations in their exhibitions. The Intercommunication Center (ICC) in Tokyo, Japan; the Center for Culture and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany; the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria; the EMAF - European Media Arts Festival, Osnabr¨ ck, Germany; u the VIPER (Switzerland); the International Art Biennale of Cerveira, Portugal; and the DEAF - Dutch Electronic Arts Festival are examples of initiatives that have sup- ported and initiated digital art consistently all over the last two decades. Digital art is today a proper branch of contemporary art [10][11]. Today’s digital artifacts range from virtual life as it is the case of A-Volve (1994) from Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau, a virtual environment where
  4. 27 The Creation Process in Digital Art 605 Fig. 2 In the left: Rotary Glass Plates (Precision Optics [in motion]), 1920, by Marcel Duchamp. In the right: Autopoiesis, 2000, by Kenneth Rinaldo (courtesy of the author) aesthetic creatures try to survive; to artificial life robotics installation such is Au- topoiesis (2000), by Kenneth Rinaldo that presents sculptures with sensors that react to the visitor by moving their arms towards the person provoking attraction or repulsion (see Fig. 2). Virtual Characters (usually called Avatars), Internet art and Cyborgs are topics where digital artists are active nowadays. A more comprehen- sive overview of the today’s aesthetic digital artifacts can be obtained from Paul Greene [11]. Definitions Digital art is in fact a recent term that became a general designation for several forms of computer-supported art, from computer art (since 1970s), multimedia art, interactive art, electronic art and more recently, new media art. Under the defini- tion of digital art there are several art branches commonly connected to the specific media or technology they are based on. We define digital art as art that explores computers (tools, technologies and dig- itally coded information content) as a tool and material for creation. In the course of this definition digital art has to incorporate the computer medium in its creation process, even if the final artifact does not visibly integrate computer or digital elements. In Fig. 3 we present an overview of the different artistic areas related to digital art. As we can observe, digital art embraces, by definition, all type of computer- supported art. Digital art is mainly based on three grounding concepts: controlled randomness access; presentational virtuality and interactivity that have been behind emergent
  5. 606 A.F. Marcos et al. VIRTUALITY Vi de o Ar rt Pa rt ts ssi lA c fa ve a rti rtu Vi lA rtu Vi ua al In A irt Ar fo rt eV a rm r edi tif tiv at ac ltim tio ac Mu Art ts So n n ter ftw In DIGITAL DIGITAL ART rt are eA Ar tiv t ac ter In E Electronic Art INTERACTIVITY Interactive Electronic Artifacts RANDOMNESS COMPUTING Fig. 3 A general categorization of digital art artwork from the 1960s to today’s digital art installations. They can be described as follows: - Randomness Access: (pseudo) non-deterministic instruction-based algorithms open the possibility of instant access to media elements that can be reshuffled in seemingly infinite combinations; - Virtuality: the physical object is migrated into a virtual or conceptual object. The concept itself becomes perceptible through its virtualization; - Interactivity: the viewer may assume an active role in influencing and changing the artwork itself. The artwork is often transformed into an open structure in process that relies on a constant flux of information and engages the participant in the way a performance might do. The audience becomes a participant in the work, resembling the com- ponents of the project that may display information of a specific perceptive nature (visual, auditory, tactile, or other). The artist plays usually the role of facilitator for the participant’s interaction. Creation Process The creation process in digital art relies often on collaborations between an artist and a team of programmers, technicians, engineers, scientists and designers, among others. This collaboration implies a multidisciplinary work involving art, science, technology, design, psychology, etc., that form a common communicational and
  6. 27 The Creation Process in Digital Art 607 informational space. Due to the widespread of the digitally coded information con- tent that is increasingly available in high expressive multimedia formats, the creation process is becoming more and more based on the manipulation and integration of digital content for creation of artworks. Accordingly, we need a common creative design space where digital artists can smoothly progress from the concept=idea until the final product (artwork) while exploring the computer medium to its maximum potential. This common cre- ative design space incorporates necessarily a communicational and informational space beneath, where digitally coded information content of different nature and level of processing is available for the artists’ use. Furthermore, tools for editing, design or for any specific processing and composing have to be offered along with facilities for communication and collaboration among the community members. The creative design space shall also provide tools to support all the activities at all phases of the creative design process, ranging from the drafting phase, passing through the artifact’s implementation phase until the artifacts exhibition preparation (exhibition space design) as also the access to physical and/or digital exhibition space. This way, the creative design space will facilitate the establishment of communities of inter- ests in art, where people from different backgrounds share materials (raw material), and digital collections while collaborating throughout common goals. The meaning of design in this context, appoints to a conscious effort to create something that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Design is here taken from both the perspective of design in engineering and from a more inventive view as it is the case in applied arts. As L¨ wgren and Stolterman [8] state design is always carried out in a context o (p. 45). In digital art, design of digital artifacts is mainly based on the conceptual- ism’s aphorism where the initial “idea or concept becomes a machine that makes the art” (Sol LeWitt, 1967). However, unlike in the pure design process, where the problem-solving guides de action of the designer, in digital art such systematic man- ner appears not primarily to solve a problem but to enhance the intention to the realization, i.e., the final artifact. Generally, artists follow an alike process in devel- oping their creative ideas, though they may be less conscious of the process they are following. Initially the artist will tend to experiment in a rather random manner, collecting ideas and skills through reading or experimentation. Gradually a partic- ular issue or question will become the focus of the experimentation and concrete implementation, formulating alternative ways, trying them, in order to adopt a re- fined one that will be pursued through repeated experimentation [7]. Thus the design process itself evolves from a vision or idea (even if it is not aware for the creator) until the final digital artifact is released. The message the spectator can obtain from the artifact in terms of a personal or group experience is the central issue the digital artifact holds. From this point of view the digital artifact is nothing but a designed thing built around a core of digital technology. In digital art context, the artifact is an object embracing information content displayed by means of digital media or a combina- tion of digital and physical components. The artifact acts as a materialization of a message, a piece of information, throughout the presentation of information content
  7. 608 A.F. Marcos et al. intended to stimulate emotions, perceptive experiences on side of the user. Thus, artistic digital artifacts, being these of pure digital or a combination with physical constituents are more adequately defined as informational objects. Digital content is defined as informative material of digital nature that holds the ability to be acted to transmit a message. Some authors, as for instance Robert Musil in his unfinished novel “The Man without Qualities”, refer to digital technology and by legacy, digitally coded information content, as the material without qualities due to its pervasive characteristics and constantly development. These are, however, characteristics that open, almost on a daily basis, new challenges and possibilities for aesthetical experiments since the computer medium can constantly wear new presentational facets. The Process The creation process in digital art is mainly based on the design of the arti- fact’s message and its development. The computer medium in the form of editing, communication and collaboration tools as well as digitally coded information con- tent is likely to be always present and traversing the overall creation process. As depicted in Fig. 4 the creative design process is launched when the artist gets hold with an initial idea=concept. Then, the artist starts to design the concept, entering a process that will lead into the final artifact. This process is not a linear process, on the contrary, artists may go back and further in the activity sequence, skipping one or focusing the work in another. The process is usually highly dynamic, yet, the artist’s vision is always present. The creation process involves the following phases: Message Design phase: - Concept Design: in this activity the artist gets involved in converting his=her idea=concept or vision into a set of sketches, informal drawings, i.e., the abstrac- tion is concretized in a perceptive structure. The artist does exploratory drawings that are not intended as a finished work. The outcomes of this activity are, thus, sketches, drawings that allow the artist to try out different ideas and establish a first attempt for a more complex composition. - Narrative Design: here the artist takes the drawings resulting from the concept design activity and designs a composition, a construct of a sequence of events that set up the message that will allow the users=viewers an emotional connec- tion which grants memories and recounting of the artwork. The narrative of the message behind the initial concept is designed taking into consideration aspects such as the structure of its constituent parts and their function(s) and relationships. The narrative assumes the form of a chronological sequence of themes, motives and plot lines. The outcome of this activity can be resumed as the design of the message as a story. - Experience Design: this activity embraces the process of designing the message, taking into account its related concept and narrative, to design and conceptual- ize specific characteristics of each narrative event from the point of view of the
  8. 27 The Creation Process in Digital Art 609 . Aesthetic Aesthetic Musing . Technology concern innovation Experience Artifact Design Design Perceptive designing: . Architecture design . Content . Technology selecting . Interaction . Use scenario design Artist Vision Narrative Artist Artifact Design Implementation . Storytelling . Application realizing . Scripting . Techno. integrating . Artwork deploying Starting Concept Concept Artifact Exhibition Design Planning . Sketching . Exposition set up . Draft drawing Final . Evaluating Artifact Public Fig. 4 Overview of the Creative Design Process phases human experience it shall provide. This design or planning of the human expe- rience is made based on the consideration of an individual’s or group’s needs, desires, beliefs, knowledge, skills, experiences, and perceptions. The experience design attempts to draw from many sources including cognitive and perceptual psychology, cognitive science, environmental design, haptics, information con- tent design, interaction design, heuristics, and design thinking, among others. Aesthetic Musing: this is a central activity in the creative design process, it repre- sents the moments of contemplation where the artist revise his=her vision against the decisions made (to be done) during the design and development of the artifact. We identify two guiding vectors in aesthetic musing of artifacts: - Aesthetic concern: process of integrating characteristics in the artifact that eventu- ally provide a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning or satisfaction, arising specifically here from sensory manifestations of the artifact such are shape, color, immersion, sound, texture, design or rhythm, among others. Beauty here relates almost exclusively to the aesthetic dimension of the perceptive nature of the arti- fact components. - Technology innovation: process of integrating novelty in the reshape, use, com- bination and exploitation of digital technology. This appoints to the computer medium dimension of the beauty creation, i.e., the technology is a driven force to
  9. 610 A.F. Marcos et al. set up new aesthetic dialogues. Taken the fact of the digital technology is under accelerated development; integration of high levels of technology innovation in digital art is commonly desired. Artifact Development phase: - Artifact Design: this activity relates to all aspects concerned with the design of the computer system or application that will support the final artifact. This includes the design of the system architecture, interface and interaction, as well as the selection of technology to implement them. Since the artifact is to be acted usually by an audience of viewers, we have also considered in this activity the design of the use scenario from the technological point of view. Design adopts here a hybrid perspective mixing aspects from applied arts and engineering. It applies principles from a more rigorous design based on exploitation of technology, science and even mathematical knowledge along with the aesthetical concerns. - Artifact Implementation: in this activity the artist proceeds to the implementation of the artifact itself. This incorporates tasks as programming, testing and debug- ging, as well as, technology integration and the final artifact deployment. This demands from the artist to hold programming and technological skills if he=she wants to have a more direct control over the implementation process. The artist can even be assisted by a team of programmers and technologists; however, to be in command of the artwork, the artist has to be skilled in technology to a cer- tain level. - Artifact Exhibition Planning: this activity joins together all aspects related with the setting up of the artifact exhibition. This represents the final stage of the over- all creative design process, where the artifact is brought into the world, i.e., the art object meets the audience. The success of this meeting will depend increasingly on the attractiveness of the artifact, the way the exhibition space is organized, how the logistic of its different components are managed and supported and also on the contextualization of the artifact in the overall exhibition. Notice this activity will be based on the decisions made before in terms of the message design, the artifact implementation, and above all, on the use scenario configuration. Artifacts may be presented in museums, art halls, art clubs or private art galleries, or at some virtual place such is the Internet. The Creative Design Space Architecture The creative design space is the local, physical and virtual, where the creative design process is realized. As previously defined, a creative design space is a digital com- municational and informational space that enables the generation of artistic content, the storage, transmission and exchange of digital data while providing the exhibition and presentation space for access to information and content by both specialists and the public.
  10. 27 The Creation Process in Digital Art 611 Design & Collaboration Technology Infrastructure Tools • Drawing/Storytelling • Multimedia/ Multimodal • Internet / WWW • Content/Interaction Design • Virtual Reality / Avatar • Conference Rooms Artist Community • Document Sharing • Ambient Intelligent • Grid/Ubiquit.Computing • Annotating • Computer Vision • Storage Arrays • Version Management • Algorithms/ Programming • Presentation Devices • Cooperative Editing • Copyright Management (Caves, Video halls, mobile) •… •… •… Starting Concept Computer Medium :t echnology Creative Design Space Message Design Artifact Development Artifact Artifact Concept Narrative Experience Aesthetic Artifact Implementa - Exhibition Design Design Design Musing Design tion Planning Final Artifact Computer Medium: information content User Community Hybrid Cultural Digital Document (Digital) Art Heritage Content Repositories Repositories • Digital Recoveries • Digital Art Collections • Digital Doc. Libraries (Archaeological, Cultural, • Online Museums, Art • Digital Music Libraries Architectural Sites) Galleries, Exhibitions • Individual Catalogues Artifact • 3D/2D reconstructions • Individual Catalogues • Ad hoc Materials • Ad hoc materials • Ad hoc Materials •… Accessing via Presentation •… •… Devices Fig. 5 The Creative Design Space Architecture The creative design space aims at supporting an artistic community by enabling all the main activities of the creative design process by providing tools for design, shaping, planning, collaboration, communication and sharing of information as well as giving access to digitally coded information content of diverse nature. Usually, such a space has also to provide exhibiting facilities for presentation of final artifacts to the audience. As a whole, the creative design space as depicted in Fig. 5 is not entirely affected either by technological advances or the needs of users and creators. The flow of work from one activity to another remains conceptually the same. As previously noticed, the computer medium is likely to traverse all the stages of the creative design process, from concept drawing until the final artifact production and exhibition. As we can observe in the figure 5 the computer medium can be divided in two main lines of contributions, namely: - Computer medium as technology: we identify here three principal types of tools: Design & Collaboration Tools: they include all type of tools and applications that support activities related with design, drawing, planning, etc. as well as those allowing the collaboration among groups of artists to happen throughout communication, sharing of files, joint editing and annotating, etc.
  11. 612 A.F. Marcos et al. Technology: we consider here all the computer technologies that are offered not only as tools or applications but principally as technological areas whose knowledge, procedures and techniques can be exploited in benefit of the cre- ative design process. Programming languages, toolkits, specific algorithms, concepts and architectures, scripting techniques or procedures in areas such are virtual reality, computer vision or ambient intelligent are good examples of the technology mentioned here. Infrastructure: this relates to all supporting infrastructures that make the com- puter medium to happen, in terms of communication, conferencing, storage facilities, computing capacity, presentation devices, etc. - Computer medium as digitally coded information content: we identify here three principal types of information content: Hybrid Cultural Heritage Content: this relates to all kind of content, partial or full digital, collected from different cultural heritage sources such are arche- ological sites, museum, 2D and 3D digital recoveries of architectural and historical findings, etc. Cultural heritage content has been serving as raw ma- terial for the shaping of digital artifacts that aim at transmit specific cultural messages. For instance, digitally altered photography is exploiting to a great extend digital photographs of famous paintings. Digital Document Repositories: these relate to the more formal document repositories ranging from text and image documents, digital music databases, from institutional or personal catalogues and collections. This type of infor- mation content is adequate, for instance, to be applied in artifacts that explore more official information sources, as for instance, the ones based on narratives referring to historic, real-life elements (dates, names, events). Digital Art Repositories: these relate to digital-born art objects, media, docu- ments, etc. owned by art galleries, museums, festivals, art houses, individual or ad hoc collections that are accessible online. Under this classification we consider also all the artifacts generated within the creative design space that can be digitally stored. Artists enter the creative design process by providing a starting concept. Then, all along the message design and artifact development phases, the artist may bring into play several types of tools, by a single manner or collaborating with colleagues, while using digitally coded information content. Incorporated in this information content we might have also parts of or complete artifacts. They can be, possibly, reused as simple musing objects or be even transformed into new forms. Thus, the management of copy rights in the accessing and re-use of digital content is a manda- tory requirement for a successful development of the community of interest over the common creative design space. Notice that the final artifact is released into the digital repositories and not directly to the audience. This is because the access to the digital artifacts has to be done by presentation devices within an exhibition space, being this physical such is a museum room or virtual like the Internet.
  12. 27 The Creation Process in Digital Art 613 Discussion We are aware of the risks behind the proposal of a creative development process model, when the phenomenon of artistic creation or creativity is still not explained at all. However, digital art is an art branch that relies intensively on the computer medium. Digital art brought the interaction and virtuality (in the sense of the immaterial) in art, as artists explore new forms of involving the spectator in the artwork and enhancing the shift from object to concept in the form of the “virtual object”. This virtual object is usually seen as a structure in the process, sometimes dynamic and volatile, that creates expressive effects, stimulates emotions and perhaps feeling on the part of the spectator, who might become an active player when interacting with the artwork itself and changing it in unforeseen new shapes. Furthermore digital artists often explore the concept of combinatorial and strict rule-based process inherited from the Dadaism poetry, as well as, controlled ran- domness to generate and activate instructions for information access and processing. This leads to the materialization of artworks resulting from pure instruction-based procedures as was the work of the American composer John Cage, whose work car- ried out in the 1950s and 1960s, explored extensively these concepts. Cage described music as a structure divisible into successive parts that could be filled by means of automatically controlled randomness and instruction-based algorithms. This open an infinite set of possibilities for creation. On the other hand, the intensive development of the information society has im- plications in the widespread of huge volumes of rich multimedia content and their usage in shaping digital artifacts. One way or other, our civilization’ heritage is turning into digital format and, to a great extent, available for free. Design and pro- cessing tools are become common place and increasingly trouble-free thought they will integrate artificial intelligence in order to facilitate the creation process. Art shall become, in short time, a prerogative of everybody, granted the access to the computer medium. Therefore, the emergence of collaborating artists’ communities sharing a common informational and communicational space increases the need for concrete implementations of the creation process where people may work alone but also act in group by sharing ideas and content with colleagues linked over a common creative design space. We have observed that regardless of the specific digital medium employed, the creation process is essentially the same. People start with a first idea or concept and go along all or some of the different creation process phases. Important differences between artists in their methods of realizing an artifact can generally be ascribed to the differing technical requirements of the digital medium. These differences are superficial and mainly related to the technical understanding of the specific digital medium and the related computer-based technologies. In fact the most important aspect in the digital art outcome is the concept em- bedded in. The concept is what the artist wants to show to the audience, .i.e., it is this “about something”. The specific digital medium is the mode of expression or communication used by the artist to convey the concept at hand. It may be con- crete, as in the case of an interactive installation, or ephemeral, as in the case of a
  13. 614 A.F. Marcos et al. sound recording or motion picture. Although copies of these latter works exist in physical form, they are not meant to be appreciated for their physical manifestation. Digital art may embrace ephemeral artworks that are meant to be appreciated in the dimension of time rather than all at once in space. Thus, we can summarize the creation process in digital art as the application of an individual’s concept to a specific digital medium or groups of media, by exploring the potentialities of the computer technologies and infra-structures along a set of phases that start in the design of the message and ends in the deploying of the final artifact. We are aware of the complexities behind objectives to achieve normalization of art-based processes. Art is still dominated by subjectivity, creativity and non- quantifiable outcomes that are opposed to science objectivity and methodological replication goals. However, digital art is an art branch that relies intensively on the computer medium, thus the computing science. Consequently deconstructing the design process behind digital artifacts must open new avenues for the digital art analysis but even more important enhance community knowledge about replicable methods usable in the design and creation of new digital artifacts. Conclusions and Future Work In this chapter we have analyze and discussed ground concepts and definitions be- hind digital art, emphasizing how the computer medium is itself the tool and the raw material in its creation. We have presented a model for digital art creation that consists of a creative design process implemented by means of a common design space where digital artists can smoothly progress from the concept until the final artifact while exploring the computer medium to its maximum potential. We have seen the creation process in digital art is essentially about design of the message and experience the artifact will transmit and allow, as also its implementa- tion as a computational system or application. The computer medium affects here the role as the tool to enhance the creation process; as also as the raw material when the digitally coded information content and computer components are primarily explored in the shaping of the artifact. We have also stated the activity of digital art creation is mostly about collaboration among a multidisciplinary team. It requires a common communicational and informational space where the different activities of the creation process can be realized along with communication and collaboration facilities, as also, the access to digital information content and exhibition spaces have to be provided. References 1. Beveridge, W.E.B. (1957). The Art of Scientific Investigation, (New York; Vintage Books). 2. Duchamp, M. (1959). The Creative Act. Lecture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 19, 1961. Published in Art and Artists, 1, 4 (July 1966).
  14. 27 The Creation Process in Digital Art 615 3. Eco, U. (1962). The Open Work. Harvard University Press, (1989). 4. Eliot, T.S. (1920). Tradition and Individual Talent in The sacred wood; essays on poetry and criticism. London: Methune, [1920]. ISBN:1-58734-011-9. 5. Grau, O. (2003). Virtual Art – From Illusion to Immersion. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. 6. Greene R. (2005). Internet Art. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd. 7. Laurel, B. (ed), (2003). Design Research: Methods and Perspectives. The MIT Press. 8. L¨ wgren, J., & Stolterman, E. (2007). Thoughtful interaction design – a design perspective on o information technology. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. 9. Marcos, A. (2007). Digital Art: When artistic and cultural muse and computer technology merge. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 5(27), 98–103. 10. Marcos, A., Branco, P., Carvalho, J. (2009). The computer medium in digital art’s creative development process. In James Braman & Giovanni Vincenti (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Computational Arts and Creative Informatics: IGI Publishing. 11. Paul, Ch. (2005). Digital Art. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd. 12. Routio, P. (2007). Arteology, the Science of artifacts. University of Arts and Design Helsinki (UIAH). Printed from the Internet at: http://www2.uiah.fi /projects/metodi/108.htm (visited at 01.02.2009) 13. Wilson, S. (2002). Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology. Cam- bridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
  15. Chapter 28 Graphical User Interface in Art Ian Gwilt Introduction This essay discusses the use of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) as a site of cre- ative practice. By creatively repositioning the GUI as a work of art it is possible to challenge our understanding and expectations of the conventional computer inter- face wherein the icons and navigational architecture of the GUI no longer function as a technological tool. These artistic recontextualizations are often used to ques- tion our engagement with technology and to highlight the pivotal place that the domestic computer has taken in our everyday social, cultural and (increasingly), cre- ative domains. Through these works the media specificity of the screen-based GUI can broken by dramatic changes in scale, form and configuration. This can be seen through the work of new media artists who have re-imagined the GUI in a number of creative forms both, within the digital, as image, animation, net and interactive art, and in the analogue, as print, painting, sculpture, installation and performative event. Furthermore as a creative work, the GUI can also be utilized as a visual way- finder to explore the relationship between the dynamic potentials of the digital and the concretized qualities of the material artifact. As the image, functionality and modality of the GUI is moved across, and be- tween media types (recontextualized as a form of art), it can also act as a syncretic agent in the establishing of hybrid mixed-reality forms and readings. Unlike the VR experience, where we are expected to locate ourselves in an alternative disembodied computer generated space, the concept of mixed-reality implies that we can retain a much stronger sense of our physical presence and location, while interacting with a digitally mediated environment. The notion of mixed-reality art is framed both per- ceptually and formally around the interplay between physical and digitally mediated spaces. Mixed-reality art allows for the formulation of multi-modal combinations of environments referencing the qualities we assign to the digital - dynamism, com- plexity, interconnectivity, mutability and so on, to work in tandem with the material I. Gwilt ( ) Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, University of Technology, Sydney e-mail: Ian.gwilt@uts.edu.au B. Furht (ed.), Handbook of Multimedia for Digital Entertainment and Arts, 617 DOI 10.1007/978-0-387-89024-1 28, c Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009
  16. 618 I. Gwilt culture of physical art forms, objects and spaces and the qualities we assign to these, such as - value, originality, weight and stability. The desktop metaphor of the GUI can be read as a dual metaphor, which recalls actions and qualities from both digital and material cultures. Through the premise of mixed-reality the GUI interface res- onates in both digital and physical environments, where the mutability of its devices and metaphors can be used to contest the usual technological and cultural signifi- cances assigned to them. Strategies for the Re-contextualization of the GUI in Art Practice As a technological tool the GUI acts as a human computer interface where famil- iarity with the desktop metaphor is intended to give the user a sense of immediacy, enabling the user to look past the medium of the computer altogether in an attempt to make the technology transparent and to establish a sense of the empirical expe- rience. However, at the same time the notion of hypermediacy [1] suggests that the user is constantly presented with the interface through the interplay and arrange- ment of complex digital media.1 This dual tendency situates the GUI at the centre of our contemporary relationship with computer technologies, to the extent that our quasi-ritualistic interactions with the GUI can be used and indeed have been used to initiate a number of digitally informed creative practices. These appropriations are commonly realized in three main ways: firstly, by the utilization of the established aesthetic of the computer interface; secondly, by producing unexpected media inter- pretations of GUI iconography; and thirdly, through the concepts of mixed-reality art in multimodal reframings of the GUI. In many cases the digital/material dialec- tic has been problematized through the types of strategies which we associate with Conceptual art movements of the 60s and 70s. This includes the use of the creative tactics of interventions, readymades and documentation processes.2 1 Bolter and Grusin discuss the idea of the transference of image from one media to another and the associated cultural and semantic implications associated with this activity [1]. They argue that the remediated experience (throughout media both old and new) is made up of the contradictory duality of immediacy and hypermediacy. The concept of immediacy refers to the notion of a ‘live point of view’, present in digital media. Immediacy suggests a transparent experience where the nature of the delivery medium disappears and the content / experience becomes the main focus. Conversely, the idea of hypermediacy implies that this primary experience is always intrinsically linked to the nuances of the delivery medium, from the texture of paint on canvas, to split-screen television news interviews and the screen architecture of web browser navigation devices. Hypermediacy suggests that the affect of the media is always present in the content delivery. 2 Conceptual art represented a dematerialization of the art object and a questioning of art’s medium specificity. Moreover, it was interested in the redefining of the spaces in which we might encounter art. Tony Godfrey defines the works, concepts and actions of Conceptual art into four main cat- egories. Firstly: readymades, wherein the artist recontextualizes existing material to comment on meaning or significance, (as exemplified through the work of Duchamp), secondly; interventions, the placing of an element in a different or unexpected context, thirdly; documentation, of social, cultural, or scientific phenomena or systems, and fourthly; words and the use of the written texts or trysts as artistic commentary, information, instruction or criticism [4].
  17. 28 Graphical User Interface in Art 619 The Visual and Conceptual Configuration of the GUI The history of digital computing is a relatively short one, which has already been ex- tensively documented [2]. However, it is important here to locate the role of GUI in relation to the computer’s expedient growth into everyday use, as it can be attributed with playing a major part in the rapid dissemination of domestic computer-based technologies. It is a commonly held belief that important cultural shifts are based around enabling technologies [3][4], and that these shifts are frequently aligned with an associated visual aesthetic. I would argue that the GUI is the associated visual aesthetic of domestic digital computing (enabled through the underlying technolo- gies of computer programming and microchip advancements). The GUI has become a techno-cultural phenomenon, creating a cultural shift through which easy access to digital content is achieved by the manipulation of a series of visual icons, menu systems, mouse, keyboard and cursor [6]. The GUI is literally an interface between the numeric languages of computer code, the semantic particulars of command- line interfaces, and an adaptable series of user outcomes, which can be understood and applied by the populace. The success of the GUI as a visual signifier for computer technologies is grounded in this wide spread popularity as an interface between human and machine. Moreover, the prevailing use of icon based visual architecture and the desktop metaphor means that the GUI has gained sufficient cultural recognition that it can now be seen as a technological referent for artistic commentary. Just as the work of Andy Warhol in the 1960s drew on a culture of commod- ity consumption and mass production in the economic boom of industrial America, the computer interface as a communal artifact and point of social convergence has also begun to inform a sector of contemporary art practice in the era of the digital economy. As Pop art elevated the images of material consumption to art status, the aesthetics of computer information technology - in both hardware and software - have become the image of digitization in the early part of the twenty first century. The material canonization of the GUI aesthetic can be compared to the Pop art tropes of the 1960s, which had the ability to elevate the mundane content of commercial consumption to cult status. Commenting on this relationship between the interface and material form in art, Louise Poissant states that ‘the renewal of art forms has materialized through a series of iconoclastic gestures, which has introduced new ma- terials that were first borrowed from the industrial world or from everyday life and progressively from the domain of communications and technology’ [7]. Moreover, the hybrid nature of mixed-reality art has the potential to recreate the sensibili- ties of the digital aesthetic in a variety of cultural environments and media forms, through the weaving together of both interface and material culture. These new lam- inates can be seen as a contributing agent in this acceptance of the digital form. As Lev Manovich states ‘Content and interface merge into one entity and no longer can be taken apart.’ [6].
  18. 620 I. Gwilt The GUI as an Environment for Art Practice In previous texts I have extensively discussed the work of a number of artists who have been creatively repositioning the GUI as image and artifact since the mid 1990s.3 In the following section I would like to describe the work of two contem- porary artists who are continuing in this tradition. As the GUI evolves through new three-dimensional interfaces, complex data retrieval/visualization possibilities and Web 2.0 initiatives, new possibilities for re-imagining the GUI in a creative context are established. As we consider these artworks we should keep in mind the digi- tal/physical lineage of these artifacts. The GUI recontextualized as art gives us the opportunity to look critically at the evolution of the computer desktop metaphor and its appropriation back into object based artifacts. As Melinda Rackham comments: Most people today are aware that the GUI has influenced print design and commercial media, but are unaware to the extent that internet works and desktop icons are being made in traditional art forms like painting, sculpture, drawing, engraving, and even needlepoint. [8] Moreover, the transformation from digital to material artifact sets up the potential for these representations of computing technology to be accepted as precious, rari- fied artworks, which command value and prestige. Again in the words of Melinda Rackham, ‘unlike the more ephemeral and distributed net art, these works often have a ready made object based art market willing to purchase them.’ [8]. A rapidly developing digital paradigm, in which we are seeing the increased public engagement with geographical and other space-based rich data retrieval, and visualization possibilities is also being referenced in art practice. Enabled through the uptake of in-car way-finding systems, Google Earth and Google maps software etc., these tools have their own set of visual icons and GUI devices. A work entitled Map (2006) by Aram Bartholl, humorously comments on this cultural shift. In this work the red place marker icon used in the Google map software is materialized as if it were seen in the actual physical location that has been identified by an online Google map search (Fig. 1). Made from wood and fabric, the physical marker corre- sponds proportionately to the scale that it is seen at on the map in the Web browser (when viewed at maximum zoom) [9]. This creative intervention elicits a response from passers-by when placed in a public space, and indicates how the referencing of the GUI is continuing to evolve artistically through new applications of technology, and continuing to bleed into physical spaces through these art practices. In another GUI based work, the artist Ben Fino-Radin makes reference to the notion of sharing and communities. In the sculptural pieces of Hyperlink (2006), Fino-Radin weaves together the visual symbol for connectivity from the Internet 3 For further information on artistic references to the GUI see the following texts: From Digital Interface To Material Artifact, Proceedings of ISEA 2008 The 14th International Symposium on Electronic Art, Pages: 202–203, Year of Publication: 2008, ISBN: 978-981-08-0768-9 A Brief History of the Graphical User Interface in Contemporary Art Practice, 1994–2004, Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Information, Pages: 931–936, Year of Publication: 2005, ISBN ISSN:1550-6037, 0-7695-2397-8
  19. 28 Graphical User Interface in Art 621 Fig. 1 Aram Bartholl Map (2006) installation view. Image Aram Bartholl Fig. 2 Ben Fino-Radin Hyperlink (2006) plastic needlepoint canvas and yarn. Image Ben Fino- Radin (the pointing finger cursor) with the real-world arts and crafts notions of social circles and communities, typically associated with needlepoint and embroidery practices (see Fig. 2). As Fino-Radin explains about his own work, ‘the environ- ments I create with these objects are a space for the vernacular of two seemingly different cultures (crafts and computers) to rub up against each other and create a new culture/tribe with psychedelic/spiritual depth.’ [10].
  20. 622 I. Gwilt Conclusion Despite critics, the desktop interface has proved to be an enduring and practical in- terface between user and computer, and the recent iterations of the GUI are still very much grounded in the paradigms of the original desktop and windows metaphors. These visual icons and navigation systems have stood the test of time, surviving a period of highly dynamic and volatile technological growth in the rise of con- sumer computing. However, the current trend towards the realist representation of desktop icons, facilitated by increasing computer-processing power, may eventu- ally complete the visual transition between the notion of a ‘traditional’ digital GUI aesthetic - one of limited colour and simple geometric forms - to one comprised of photo-realistic imagery. This visual synthesis, from symbol to image, may not inher- ently change the functionality of the desktop interface (although it may contribute to the notions of transparency as discussed above). Nevertheless, it may lead to a weak- ening in the flexible interpretation of the desktop interface metaphor, which through the use of a graphic language, signals that it is an agent of mediation. Whereas, the user expectations of a photo-realistic icon may well have a more strongly correlated expectation of functionality in relation to the behaviors of its real-world counter- part. The continuation in this trend towards a photo-realistic interface potentially assigns the GUI (as a distinguishable visual form) to history. New technological developments including dynamic information systems, increasingly efficient voice recognition, biometric sensing devices and perceptual computing techniques (where the computer responds directly to physiological input signals), all point to the pos- sible end of the dominance of the desktop metaphor and the GUI as the widespread domestic computer interface. The question is - will these shifts in the form of the GUI negatively impact on its use as an artistic social cultural referent, or continue to offer new and different creative opportunities. References 1. J. D. Bolter, and R. Grusin, “Remediation: understanding new media”, MIT Press, 1999. 2. P. E. Ceruzzi, “A history of modern computing”, MIT Press, 1998. 3. P. Hayward, “Culture, technology and creativity in the late twentieth century”, John Libbey, 1990. 4. R. Pepperell, and M. Punt, “The Postdigital Membrane: Imagination, Technology and Desire”, Intellect Books, 2000. 5. T. Godfrey, “Conceptual art”, Phaidon, 1998, pp. 7. 6. L. Manovich, “The Language of New Media”, MIT Press, 2001, pp. 88, pp. 67. 7. L. Poissant, “The Passage from Material to Interface”, “Media Art Histories”, O. Grau. The MIT Press 2007, pp. 229. 8. M. Rackham, “arteface”, unpublished text taken from introductory section for gallery show proposal, curated by Melinda Rackham and Ian Gwilt. For details of the proposal contact Melinda@anat.com.au, 2005. 9. A. Bartholl, “Net Data vs. Every Day Life”, Retrieved Jan 24th 2009, from http://www. daten- form.de/mapeng.html 2006. 10. B. Fino-Radin, (2006). “Ben Fino-Radin – Hyperlink” Retrieved Jan 31st 2009 from http://www.benfinoradin.info/hyperlink.htm 2006.
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