[ISEA96] Artist Statement: Achamyeleh Debela – Digital Art/Digital Painting: A Personal View

Artist Statement

If I were to use a simple cliché, I would say ‘an Art is an Art’ hence simply explained my work as a digital artist is…’. However, I can not as an educator get away by such an explaination, nor would I do justice to this phenomenon that is discribed as digital art. A few years back when I started to explore the technology and its tools, those who dared to write about it struggled to explain and articulate the unique qualities inherent to the technology and the end product that is presented as ‘Digital Art’. Some wrote about this art form as a ‘Computer Generated Art’ or ‘Computer Art’ and others saw the need to develop a manifesto that attempted to provide a forum. Be it the manifesto on Dataism, or attempts at addressing the algorithmic beauty that is imbedded in the design of a given programm, critics and art historicians alike are still out forging an aesthetic criterion to an art form that uses an ever evolving technic and technology. Be that as it may I approach the new tool with in the context of a panhuman universe where I attempt to function by its influence and at the same time influence it by bringing to it a culture context. To this end i have so far enjoyed creating and discovering with the computer as an assistant. I can speak of digital art as a computer assisted art not a computer generated one. Simply put the computer and associated software compliments and enhances my ability to create and do not contribute in developing original concept nor do they generate an art work. However, they play a crucial role in making it possible for the artist who is willing to use them. This does not mean that the computer does not have an input in the process, in-fact it does. As in any traditional medium the tools and materials used contribute to the final looks of the image created. The difference is on the skill and knowledge of the artist. Although technical know how does not guaranty artistic and or creative dexterity if combined one is sure to express an idea with certain level of sophistication as well as simplicity. In otherwords, if an artist is interested in using water color, he or she is obligated to know and discover all possible means associated with his or her chosen medium. I feel honored to be in the company of those that are now referred to as artists of the cyber culture. As an individual with a specific cultural background I bring to the computer canvas a variety of ideas, some that I have completed or have resolved via paintings using traditional tools. Sources from my acrylic on canvas paintings or other works on any number of mixed media, photographs, three dimensional images that I create in the computer world, and or drawings, sketches etc. These sources are selected, digitized or scanned and filed as image data where I have access to as many or as few of them as I need. I use these resources selectively concocting portions of colors here, parts of figures there or a variety of African surface decorations, designs and or motifs. After a certain amount of creative process I come up with my final composition of a visual music and present it in the old fashioned way, a two dimensional graphic representation framed or on the computers screen world.

  • Achamyeleh Debela, Ethiopia/USA. Achamyeleh Debela is one of the leading contemporary Ethiopian-born artists living and working in the Diaspora. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Addis Ababa, Acha graduated from the Addis Ababa Fine Arts School where he studied under Ale Feleghe Selam, Gebre Kristos Desta, Skunder Boghossian and Hansen Bahia. He earned additional degrees at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria (BFA); Morgan State University (MA); and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MFA). He pursued doctoral studies in art education and computer graphics at Ohio State University. [source: nccu.edu/directory/details.cfm?id=adebela]