Panel: The Big Bang of Electronic Art: Merging Abstraction and Representation in the Age of Digital Imaging
I came of age as a painter in the 1970’s, and was also for a while a critic, editing the magazine Artscribe in the UK. Exhibitions of what we now term ‘conceptual’ art claimed to go ‘beyond’ painting. There was talk of painting being ‘over’. By the eighties painting seemed to be resurgent. The militant styles of minimal art were challenged by free-form genres – new image, neo-expressionist, pattern painting. Disputes between figuration and abstraction were set aside. Whether you put a fish, a triangle or blob of orange in a composition did not really matter. I came to computer graphics in the mid eighties, and was inspired by the freedom, the colour and the speed. I aimed to integrate all this with what engaged me in ‘regular’ painting, along with its developing culture. I still work in both modes most days. I think of it all as ‘just’ painting. A blue is blue, whatever the medium. I guard against the illusion that these wonderful new paints make you into an ‘advanced’ artist. Yes, we have the freedom to scan anything and throw it into a mix –I do this as irresponsibly as anyone else – but sometimes you just get Photoshop soup. I would like ‘digital’ painting to look unforced. It does not have to be photo-based, logical, weird, nocturnal, natural or unnatural. My own approach has been drawing-based and somewhat gestural. As for whether it is ‘representational’ or ‘abstract’, well I would prefer it to be just playful.
- James Faure Walker studied at St Martins (1966-70) and the RCA (1970-72). He co-founded Artscribe magazine in 1976, and edited it for eight years. Recent one-person exhibitions include Galerie Wolf Lieser (2003); Galerie der Gegenwart, Wiesbaden (2000, 2001). Group exhibitions include Jerwood Drawing Prize (2010); ‘Digital Pioneers’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum (2009); ‘Imaging by Numbers’, Block Museum, Illinois, USA (2008); Siggraph, USA (eight times 1995-2007); John Moores, Liverpool (1982, 2002); Bloomberg Space (2005); DAM Gallery, Berlin (2003, 2005, 2009). In 1998 he won the ‘Golden Plotter’ at Computerkunst, Gladbeck, Germany. His ‘Painting the Digital River: How an Artist Learned to Love the Computer’, (2006, Prentice Hall, USA), won a New England Book Show Award. He is Reader in Painting and the Computer at Camberwell, UK.
Full text (PDF) p. 2530-2531