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Lesson Plans

Re: New Thread (digital photo)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Robert Alexander Fromme (rfromme)
Tue, 15 Jul 1997 18:31:30 -0500

At 07:21 PM 7/14/97 -0500, Diane C. Gregory, Ph.D. wrote:

>We and all the photographers and artists that have mentioned so far, are a
>product of a time that seems to be slowly slipping away. I would imagine
>that Impressionists were criticized for using oil paint tubes instead of
>grinding their own paint. I would imagine scribes criticized people who
>used printing presses in the days of Gutenberg. The older generation
>(myself) was not brought up with these new computer technologies and I have
>a fondness for the old manipulative ways of making art. What about our
>students? They are being exposed to new ways of thinking and doing and
>when they become teachers, their students will be exposed to still yet
>another way of working, as technology continues to advance and change the
>way art can be made. This has been our history and I think history does
>repeat itself, over and over again. We are no different. I find it
>curious that a profession that values creativity is so intolerant of new
>ideas and new approaches. I have wondered if others have not wondered the
>same thing. Just a thought...

Yes, Diane,

When my earlier remarks concerning the status of art and art education were
sent to the list I cut the comments short to save bandwidth. When I
started those comments it was my original intention to end with remarks
on the developing changes and new ways that the visual arts will develop
cultural status in the next "technological" decade.

Diane, As you and others on the list know, there was a time when computers
were huge, rare and expensive. Compared to the technology of today, those
early machines could also be thought of as quite retarded. I know some of
us on the list remember your "Beaver Cleaver" 50s or even the years before
television was a powerful cultural force. Perhaps a few of the males on the
list can remember drafted, nightmare monsoon nights....... little more then
boys, trying to sleep in the paddy water and mud, thousands of miles from
that "Beaver Cleaver" home.....lonely squad of frightened fellows slapping
at the rats the size of house cats forced from their homes in the dykes by
the rising paddy water. Some of us may remember trying to make some sense
of the "Dirty Little War", thinking, "if the governments, the businessmen
and the politicians were not in control, the common people on both sides of
the issue, folks like ourselves, could figure out a way to get along and
work things out".

Well, as part of a defense effort, the fellows in the Rand Corporation
were, at the very same time, creating the seeds of the Internet. I am sure
they had no idea what the next twenty years would bring as their monster
began to grow. Computers, the "Space Race" and the Net began in a time when
social studies lessons were about "us and them." Nakita banged his shoe at
he U.N. and roared things like, "We will bury you!" "The Masters of
Deceit" and "1984" were assigned high school reading. Neighbors dug bomb
shelters while Abstract Expressionism, Op and Pop were "not real art." I
can remember that art prompting comments like "they have to be crazy" and
"who are they trying to kid?"

Today, common folks like us can use traditional art media and then scan
or digitize the work for the powerful new working environment of technology.
Images can be captured or generated within the environment of the computer
using a great variety of art tools. The form and content of traditional
media, drawings, photographs, prints and paintings find a new life in

The computer and software provide a mind boggling array of hidden
mathematical algorithms which manipulate computer memory holding the digital
images of ideas. The power of the technology goes well beyond any
manifestation of traditional art making media. The creative minds and hands
of artists can soar in a world which is much less physical then any
creative environment known to our species. With a few clicks of the mouse,
we can change individual shapes or flatten numerous layers of images into
a single, new composition. The new media lets us manipulate opacity or
transparency of images stacked upon images. In seconds we can change hue,
value, and intensity in selected areas or for entire compositions. In
seconds, the work can be printed, placed in mass storage, uploaded to a Web
server, or transferred (FTP) at the speed of light, via fiber optics and
satellites, to common folks like ourselves on the other side of the world.
The images move like lightening, mixed with other commerce of the day,
e-mail chatter, news.... it is all there. Ours is the new culture of
technology transforming the world from "us and them" to one of positive
human values on a global scale. With the new technology, power is shifting
from governments to common people like us. Visual communication is going to
be an important part of this process of cultural exchange. The power, the
status, of art and art education will grow in relation to the amount of
technology which it is willing to embrace. The time has passed for the
creative minds of artists and art educators to labor unserved by the tools
of technology.

Bob Fromme