But is it art?

Posted: July 10, 2017 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

So, I’ve been thinking about art and technology. In my fantasy life, I am an artist. In my real life, I an educator with access to a lot of technology and art supplies.

Recently I have been using Adobe Capture (the free app version) to create black and white images that I then cut into wood on the lasercutter and print. First, use the ‘shapes’ feature in Adobe Capture. I can use the sliding scale to determine how much black I want in the image. Below you can see the image I was using and how Adobe Capture transformed it.

Next I put the image into Adobe Illustrator, did the image trace, expanded it and deleted a few stray bits. Then I raster engraved that image onto wood using the lasercutter. I reversed the black and white so that the lasercutter cut away all the areas of white, leaving the raised portions the equivalent of the dark areas in the image. From there, I could ink the wood and print it on paper.


The question I have is, although the print is quite nice, I am wondering if it is art. I mean how much did I really do here? I found the chair sitting as is in my house. I did move some junk and maybe a cat off of it. I used the app to take a picture, cropped out what I didn’t want, used the slider to decide the black/white balance, which the app implemented. This is the hard part, in my opinion. I made minimal changes to the image. The lasercutter cut the wood. I inked the block and put the paper on.

I don’t know. I didn’t draw or cut the print image. I made minimal decisions about color and paper. I chose the amount of black and white, altered lighting a bit to get the pattern I wanted.

This makes me think of the picture book Seen Art by Joe Scieszka and Lane Smith. (Our main character ends up in the MoMA in New York and keeps asking if anyone has “seen Art?” Various people talk to him about the works in the museum including the helicopter that hangs from the ceiling, which the other museum patron recognizes for its engineering but admits some wonder if it is Art. Finally, our hero finds what he has been looking for–his friend Art.) As I think about this, I wonder if I can come to terms with this idea be taking into account the lower case or capital a in art. Maybe these prints (I have many more) are not capital A Art (said with deep, serious voice), but maybe they are small a art, which is probably about right for me.

  1. Lisa says:

    1. Are you asking the same question as “Is photography art?”
    2. In a similar vein, I’m always pondering “Is it learning?” I’ve discovered that most people think there is a definite answer to that question, but few agree on what that answer is. Keeps life interesting.

  2. mseiteljorg says:

    1. I do think that photography is art, or can be. Many of my photographs are not. I guess to me the art of my experiment is in turning the photograph into the black and white image, deciding what to make black, what detail to exclude, what bits to merge. All of that was done by the app without much real input from me. The scene (or starting photo) was not really produced or anything either as I didn’t really arrange anything so much as find in my living room a chair that I thought might work. Since what I find challenging about printing is deciding what to cut out and what to leave and the app did that, I am wondering about my role. Perhaps I just found a good assistant.
    2. Very similar to “is it learning” or rather, “is it learning we care about.” Maybe that is really my question about the art. Is it art worth doing? That is easier for me to answer. For me, it is worth doing as it provides endless opportunities to consider, try, retry. It might not be art anyone else wants to look at, which is fine since I am not trying to make a living at art.
    Thanks for reading and commenting.

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