Sunday, October 26, 2008

SOUND OFF: IF IT'S COMPUTER-ASSISTED, IS IT ART?

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Ben Worthen asked if sculptor Brue Beasley was "cheating" by using computer-assisted design to assemble a sculpture "virtually" before he actually sets out to sculpt the piece. Beasley tells him that artists have always found ways to make themselves more efficient.

"I can deal with a greater degree of complexity than if I was doing it by hand," Beasley says.

Worthen doesn't answer his own question about whether Beasley's approach is "cheating," so I'm putting the question to my readers: Are sculptors who rely on technology to ease the burden of creating art cheating? Or is it a legitimate part of the artistic process to make use of all available technologies? Are there limits?

Post your thoughts here by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below. Please include your name, hometown, and state, province, or country. Readers' comments may appear in an upcoming column. Or e-mail your comments to me at rightthing@nytimes.com.You can also respond to the poll about this question that will appear on the right-hand side of the blog until polling is closed.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

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c.2008 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ben Worthen has entirely too much time on his hands if he has to criticize a final artists product just because he used computer assisted early work on this project. As long as the final product of this artist is his own work, it is "straining at a gnat" to worry more than 1 minute over the computer assisted work. Doesn't Mr. Worthen have more important things to do besides worrying over the method an artist uses to arrive at his final product? Does Mr. Worthen use a computer to write his stories rather than an electric typewriter? No, because he uses modern methods to arrive at his story. Ditto, this is the way the artist arrives at his final product.

Shmuel said...

Oh, please.

Obviously, any art that uses any tools whatsoever isn't real art. No computers! No pens! No chisels! No assistants! No paints!

...naturally, this means that any art ever produced falls short of the mark, but what are you gonna do? Ideal Art can never exist, and such is its glory.



(Okay, seriously, good grief. This is one of the most ridiculous questions ever. Of course it's legitimate.)

skinnyswgeek said...

Let's see. Michelangelo's apprentices drew all of the outlines of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling and painted much of it as well. Andy Warhol is well-know for running "The Factory" in which hundreds of pieces were created by an entire team, but went out with Warhol's name on them. If anything these artists are bigger cheats than the sculptor who uses computer aided drafting in pre-production, at least he personally makes the final product.

Chase March said...

I don't think it is cheating. Artists need to plan their works somehow.

I know novelists who take tonnes and tonnes of notes and write outline after outline. I know others who write without a plan.

In the end, art is art. We are left with the final piece and a computer can't ever produce that.

Chase March - Hamilton, Ontario. Canada.

Chris R. said...

Da Vinci had notebooks.

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