The only solution I have come up with to solve my philosophical and
psychological dilemma regarding reality and abstraction is to combine real world
experiences with the technological ones.
Here is an example of what I mean. A basic computer art activity that could be
done by upper elementary or middle school or just about anyone really is to have
students create a digital surrealistic portrait.
I would begin by having students collect natural and human made objects that
could be scanned into the computer. Before scanning these objects into the
computer I would encourage students to conduct visual and sensory studies of
these objects. You could have students arrange the objects on a scanner to
create a face or body self-portrait. Then scan the objects and bring them into
some kind of graphics program like ClarisWorks (AppleWorks), Photoshop LE or
Photoshop, itself, or KidPix Studio Deluxe. Have manipulate these scanned
images. They can cut, copy, paste, rotate, invert, apply various filters to
alter the effect, draw or paint with a computer on these objects to create
original self-portraits. Print these out and have students further manipulate
them with traditional art materials, ie. cray-pas, paint, crayons, watercolor,
cutting, drawing,etc. and then rescan them into the computer for even further
manipulation. Then print them out again. Students could continue this process
over and over again until they have arrived at a pleasing and satisfying
solution. By working in this way, the computer becomes part of the process.
I have done this activity with some of my elementary teachers and art teachers
in training and it seems to be more satisfying, engaging and produces more
sophisticated results, than using the computer alone.
I would appreciate hearing what some of you think about this approach. I would
also like to hear of any other approaches you have found successful to address
the reality and abstraction problem with the use of computers to make art.