Prix Ars Electronica


ORF Oberösterreich

Statement of the Computer Graphics Jury

Rolf Herken

The Computer Graphics Category received 701 entries from 282 artists. To illustrate the remarkable quality gap between the leading entries and the rest, only Char Davies and Mike Tolson came under consideration for the Golden Nica. In the end, what tipped the scales in favor of Mike Tolson was the criterion of computer specificity set up by last year's jury - though it was so close that it was decided not to award the second Distinction, so as to emphasize the artistic importance of Char Davies' work, thus taking into account the collision between two diametrically opposed views of the nature of computer-aided artistic production.

The work of Golden Nica winner Mike Tolson "Founders Series" is an example of the opinion that developing computer programs is part of the creative process. This means that the computer-aided creation of pictures can be an almost autonomous process, with the only input from the artist being in the form of program parameters determined by the subsequent artistic activity of applying (possibly self-automizable and evolving) aesthetic decision criteria to the respective end result. Like certain tendencies in 20th century art, this also leads to a strong emphasis on material qualities in two-dimensional painting as opposed to aspects of its content. The work of Mike Tolson is based on the automated processing of a basically arbitrary original picture; though any three-dimensional qualities that may be discernible in it are of no inherent significance to the process.

The work of Char Davies represents the opposite approach. Her works are spacious by nature and to a certain extent the product of traditional hand and head work, aided by a highly developed, commercially available 3D computer animation system. They can be viewed as three-dimensional paintings striving to represent immaterial, yet structured, abstract, light-flooded spaces, comparable to the interior of Gothic cathedrals and attributable perhaps to the artistic tradition ofJ.M.W. Turner. But the artistic program of painting in virtual space may indeed also prove to be a thoroughly forward-looking one.

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