Artistic legitimacy, insofar as art created using the computer as a tool is gaining ground around the world. From the art aficionado to the painter or the photographer who converts a photograph into more than a darkroom styled print, there are confusing definitions that describe with true accuracy, what this art is.
Below are six definitions of often misunderstood and misused terminologies defining this art style. To address the artists who use the computer as a tool to create their work, at the top of the list is Computer Evolved Art, which is a specific term which pays homage to the artist while principally defining the computer as a tool.
1. Photographic & Computer Evolved Art: encompasses the combining of photography, art created with image manipulation software, digital drawings/paintings, which are alterations of the original or combined digitally in any fashion before evolving into unique works of art.
CEA pays homage to the artists by defining the computer as a tool used for the transformation of art. Unlike the often referred to terms of computer art, digital art, computer generated etc. all titles which tend to give the computer precedence over the human creators of the work.
2. New Media Art is extremely broad and lacking the precision to define the photographer/computer artist or painter/illustrator whose work in part or whole evolves within the confines of a computer. Here is a useful New Media Art visual chart, which shows NMA innovations beginning in the 1940s up to the present. http://www.rchoetzlein.com/theory/2009/what-is-new-media-art/
additional reference en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_media_art
3. Fractal Art (Mathematical Computer Art) Fractal art development began in the mid-1980s. It is a form of algorithmic art created by calculating fractal objects and representing the calculation results as still images, animations, and media.
Fractal art (especially in the western world) is not drawn or painted by hand. It is usually created indirectly with the assistance of fractal-generating software. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal_art
4. Digital Art is a general term for a range of artistic works and practices that use digital technology as an essential part of the creative and/or presentation process including: movies, video games and two and three dimensional art. Since the 1970's, various names are used to describe the process including computer art and multimedia art. Digital art is itself placed under the larger umbrella term new media art. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_art
5. Computer Art
definition a. Computer Art in the widest sense is art that is created with the help of a computer. In a narrower sense, the term is also used to indicate a more specific style of artwork created by artistic programmers and engineers from the 1960's to the early 1980s or thereabouts. Victoria and Albert Museum. Here are examples of Mathematical Films of an Early Computer Artist by Manfred Mohr.
The computer was given programming language, which gave instructions to create shapes mostly comprised of keyboard characters and symbols. An interesting and revealing article can be found here The first Decade of Computer Art (1956-75)
definition b. Computer Art dates back to at least 1960, with the invention of the Henry Drawing Machine by Desmond Paul Henry… Computer Art is any art in which computers play a role in production or display of the artwork. Such art can be an image, sound, animation, video, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, videogame, web site, algorithm, performance or gallery installation. Many traditional disciplines are now integrating digital technologies and, as a result, the lines between traditional works of art and new media works have blurred. For instance, an artist may combine traditional painting with algorithm art and other digital techniques, as a result defining the nature of the art produced can vary, depending on the artists' self defined perspective. Art evolving via way of a computer Computer art is by its nature evolutionary since changes in technology and software directly affect what is possible. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_art
6. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is the application of computer graphics used to create or contribute to process of creating art, printed media, video games, films, television programs, commercials and simulations. Visualizations may be dynamic or static, and may be 2D or 3D, though the term "CGI" is most commonly used to refer to 3D computer graphics used for creating scenes or special effects in films and television. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-generated_imagery
Art has existed in many forms and created via a number of techniques. The painter uses a brush, the sculptor a chisel and hammer; the writer once used a pen, and then moved to the typewriter and now the computer keyboard. An innovation of the digital age, computer evolved artwork has challenged concepts defining how to create, and what is art.
Society has often treated new and unique art styles differently, some with disdain and others with open arms. Deciding, what is appropriate is determined as the current society becomes accustom to a particular art form or style. impressionism, cubism and abstract art all met with opposition. Often the positions of the early proponents of these art styles were not accepted, until they were no longer with us.
Computer Evolved Art once thought of as a newfangled passing trend which will ultimately take its place in history as a fine art form originating in the late 20th century.
Cecil William Lee, 2011