The history of art has always been profoundly influenced by a parallel history of technological development. The creation of tools like oil paint, the printing press and the camera have forever changed the way artists interpret and present the world. Most recently, the computer has revolutionized our lives and made an enormous impact on the visual arts.
Digital imagery is increasingly dominating our visual environment through architecture, film, television and print advertising. It’s only natural that a visual artist responding to today’s technologically driven environment might select a technologically advanced medium, like digital imagery and computer-generated prints.
The large number of reproductions possible through the Giclee process contributes greatly to the general art appreciating public: the ability to distribute visual images to a greater number of individuals at more affordable prices. Like the camera before it, Giclee prints have done much to democratize visual art.
As with any art medium, the artist, more than the materials, dictates the final impression the work leaves the viewer. In the hands of an artist the caliber of Kent Miles, the result is a spectacular fusion of art and technology.
Miles’ “Pierre’s Stairs, Paris” is a true standout in this exhibition. Most apparent is the strength of the photographer rather than the computer manipulation. Kent Miles’ image draws the viewer into the work as the eye descends the wonderfully illuminated spiral staircase. The viewer’s gaze finds a resting place with the small boy who peacefully sits in the lower right hand corner.
In “Pierre’s Stairs, Paris” the computer plays a subtle and secondary role, imparting a rich, warm tonality to the work. Here, at a fraction of the cost and time, is an image possessing many of the characteristics of the highly prized Platinum process.
Beyond her impressive contributions as curator of the Giclee show, Kim Riley’s “Untitled” also possesses many of the Giclee print’s finest qualities. In Riley’s work, an old gas station and gas pump stand in sharply tilted perspective. The dynamic angles of the gas pump and foreground create instability and flux. The crisp contrast, warm illumination of building and sky and the clarity of detail create an inviting atmosphere that draws the viewer into the work. Here again, the computer manipulation merely enhances the image rather than dominating the final product.
As with any group exhibit, a wide range of talents and skill levels are represented in the Giclee show. While most of the works display the vast possibilities inherent in Giclee prints, several merely display a seemingly random collage quality and extreme distortion of digital manipulation.
The Aperture Gallery has the difficult role of presenting a large-scale exhibit of this relatively new and still developing artistic medium to the public. Above all else, the Giclee show broadens visual art perspectives and adds to the exciting dialog vital to the enjoyment of all art.
The Giclee show hangs at the Aperture Gallery, 307 W. 200 South, through April 12.