Contemporary Art Issues: Digital Art in Malaysia

Topics: Digital art, Computer, New media art Pages: 5 (1326 words) Published: January 10, 2011

Digital art started around 1952 in US when Ben F. Laposky produced Oscillon Number Four. Artist always eager to produce something that beyond limitation of technology and mostly, artist at that time is computer programmer because no graphic software was available at that time. Herbert W. Franke, John Withney Sr. and Ben F. Laposky are one of the pioneers in digital art. Ben Laposky has created first graphic image generated by an analog machine. A mathematician and artist from Iowa, he produced this image by using manipulated electronic beam display across the fluorescent face of an oscilloscope's cathode-ray tube and then recorded onto high-speed film.

Malaysia Era of Digital Art

Digital art in Malaysia started in 1980’s when Dr. Kamarudzaman Md Isa produce a self potrait artwork tittled “Self potrait” (1984) using BASIC Language programming. Then Ismail Zain appeared with “Al Rumi”, “Happy Birthday, Mr Parameswara” and “Alkesah”. He used to be recognized by his composition drawing example DOT: Detribalization of Tam binti Che Tom (1986).

The first exhibition of electronic art were held in National Art Gallery in 1997 curated by Hasnol J Saidin and Niranjan Rajah to introduced digital art which create public awareness about digital art development and impact towards art in this revolution and information era. Today, digital art is not only for programmer but also for illustrator, graphic designer and multimedia, thanks to development of graphic softwares.

Issue Discussed

Issues of discussion here is about perception of society towards digital art which is the art of computer; is digital art, art? This is a very interesting subject as society still underestimates of digital art as “easy to produce” and “have less authentic and aesthetic value”. As people always think that Figure 1 is a painting, hence it is produce using computer software and added a hand touch as finishing. It is clearly stated that value of art would be more appreciate by its audience if it been produced using the traditional method which is hand-painting.

Digital art or computer art been question due to originality, authentication, ownership, tangibility and longevity of the artwork. Do these factors make a big difference towards art that produce by computer? Cited from Davis; 341, “We still bid wildly at auctions and employ armies of scholars to find the “original,” the “authentic” masterpiece.”[1] But Beardsley; 232 proposed that artwork is something produced with intention of giving it the capacity to satisfy the aesthetic interest. This statement proves that every artwork that contains aesthetic interest is art. The only difference is computer act as tools to ease artist in produce their artwork. Popper; 78 says that “For some artists the computer is only a design tool. For other it is means of fabrication; and for yet others, the computer is used because it possesses capabilities analogous to human intellectual processes and may even be considered as a creative entity in its own right.”[2] Still, audience uplifts the romanticism value towards giving art appreciation in produced artworks. As computer actually could preserve the artwork, authentic value been question by audience shows that rejection of the idea to modernize the art culture.

Focus of Discussion

We are discussing about digital art which carry futuristic and high technology characteristic in design. Combination of photography and art in digital art produce surrealism and realistic identity. Image manipulation was popular back in early of digital art begin and very “graphic”. Hence, it develops to become more artistic in order to challenge computer program in creating something new.

The acceptance of digital artwork is very invaluable on Malaysia due to our audience which more towards conventional art. Dr. Kamarudzaman propose that romantic value syndrome still appears in local audience perspective. Would you buy a projected image on the wall?...

Bibliography: 1. Wartenberg, E. T. (2007). The Nature of Art 2nd Ed. Thomson Wadsworth US.
2. Popper, F. (1993). Art of Electronic Age. Thames and Hudson Ltd, London.
3. Barasch, M. (1998). Theories of Art, 3. New York University Press.
4. Corporate website. Retrieved April 9, 2008 from
6. Dr. Hasnizam Abdul Wahid. (2005). The Culture of Art and Technology in the Faculty of Applied and Creative Arts, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. Retrieved April 9, 2008 from
[1]Douglas Davis, “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction,” The Nature of Art (Thomson Wadsworth 2007): 342
[2]Frank Popper, “Computer Art,” Art of the Electronic Age (Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1993), 78.
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