Saturday, December 26, 2009

gene splicing 101

As promised I am going to splice the genes of an elephant with that of a chameleon. First you must have two species with the same nature. In this case the most obvious is the elephant with his ability to hide in a room. Then the chameleon who really doesn't hide but whispers so convincingly (Jedi mind trick!) that you just don't believe he is there. He says " you don't see me, do you?", the answer is always no. "Man, don't force me to use my color skills on you."

Then realize I am using metaphors. The elephant is the computer and the chameleon a particular kind of user (a digital artist, of course!). Unless the artist messes with traditional media, you can't tell his studio from any other filled with computer junk. But I think digital artist in particular have this knack for transforming things, making things out of stuff (even digital stuff) and doing it without a big mess. See If my wife came in the room and smelled paint, saw paint on the brushes, on me, she would say, "sorry hon, your busy". But on the computer I am spotless so she says, "are you busy, when you got a minute..........". I think I'm going to sell vinyl stick-on paint splatter and oil paint scented air spray for digital artist.

There are many kinds of digital artist and we all don't need a fortress of solitude to do our digital deeds. For me though my desk is the place where I can think artistic thoughts. Other places are so distracting. My stuff is so typical, not dedicated and certified. Unless you are a pro, the need for top of the line equipment is not part of the trade. A powerful PC, Wacom tablet, etc, etc, etc.

I want to see what I can do with simple tools of modest means. Yeah, I am a typical starving artist whose life is "more important" and whose art is a hobby in everybody else's mind. This is why the chameleon, folks don't realize how serious I am about my art efforts, "I am doing serious work, you do see that don't you?", the answer is always no.

The wizard in the OZ story tried to fake the chameleon persona. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!", he bellowed with electronic thunder and pyrotechnics. You see, the elephant in the room is quiet, so the chameleon is quiet also. The wizard called attention to himself and had to account for himself. I hate explaining on a regular bases, it's hard enough for me to explain it to myself, to keep people informed and in the loop is not the artist's way. We work in semi-seclusion (sometimes total) and reveal it all when the work's done. And yet there are a few performance artist who do speed painting, in public!!

So, with digital art it is recommended you have two displays, one for work and one for tools, docs, tutorials, etc; a graphics tablet because drawing with a mouse is like a 2.5" wide laddie pencil, and you got to have a scanner and a printer or two. Then I also recommend a camera of some sort. These are the basic tools, they don't have to be top of the line but quality is a must. If it's cheap, it better be a sale price.

My ideal is to have a laptop with enough umph to do graphics. I want to buy my next PC from a Linux dealer as mentioned in my last blog. The secret is that Open Source GIMP and Inkscape softwares require less power than Photoshop or Illustrator. This may not be an advantage for commercial graphic folks but for me, it is the cream and fine for what I do. Folks are always trying to get you to compete on a higher level and buy from the higher shelf. I say it is OK to use what you have access to, fits your need and make your own tools if you have to. The only thing that really matters is the type and quality of the final file format anyway. How you get there is what an artist does.

I was driving toward downtown on a freeway overpass, looking to the right the billboard changed, I said "that's the mother of all digital monitors!" Something in my head went "epiph!" (short for epiphany). Then I went to a lady's home to fix her computer. She had a 42" wide flat screen on the dresser so she could work sitting on her bed. Hey, there's that "epiph!" again. For me If I get a 42" screen it will sit in the living room to share with the whole family. But the thought of a large digital canvas is very intriguing. I started having flashes of the movie "Minority Report". Tom Cruise was gesturing in front of a very wide display that floated in front of him. And I also saw CNN folks doing the multi-touch thing  and thousands of Wii users waving their remotes. So, you see, the technology is there, it is just not dedicated to the purpose of digital art. It is up to the artist (the chameleon) to bring together the computer tools (the elephant) in one place.

Art is all about the process toward the finished piece. Songs, poetry, stories if written well, depend upon the delivery, the same with music. Having cool tools makes the process worth the hassle to get it out there. OK, now, let's see, move this nuclei here, snip, slice, dice and..............!?! There it is, the elephant can now ripple his color in any pattern, shape, form and that tongue, you thought the trunk was a nuisance. The chameleon, "you don't see me here, do you?"

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