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What Is Digital Art?

What Is Digital Art?

Art, generally speaking, is any sort of expression of human creative skill. But what is digital art? It is art produced by using digital means, and/or reproduced by using digital devices. Of course, it is a form of art. It does not make sense to disregard any form of art just because it’s not been produced using any of the traditional techniques (i.e. painting, sculpture, photography, etc.). Regardless the technique, what matters is the message, the emotion and the aesthetic appearance of the artwork. And that is fully applicable to digital art.

Types of Digital Art Creations

I’ve always been very keen on art and also on the use of digital tools (you can tell by seeing this website) I believe art manifestation is subject to the evolution of the techniques, which can make art expression richer. The boundaries between disciplines tend to blur more and more as technology evolves. Most of the formerly differentiated art media are now usually blend together in many artworks. Being that said, these are the most typical disciplines that use digital means as a main tool of production:

Digital Installations

Canadian Pavilion at the Biennale 2010 “Hylozoic Ground”, Philip Beesley, showed a stunning piece of digital work. It was based on an acrylic “contemporary wilderness”, made of mechanic elements responsive to the environment. As opposed to sculptural approaches, these artwork tend to be interactive.

Some examples here:


This is probably the most obvious example of digital creation for many. Completely produced and reproduced on digital means, video is probably the paradigm of digital creation nowadays. Not only a form of art, but it’s also the most popular means for creative communication online (have you heard of Youtube, Vimeo…).

Real-life images in motion, computer-generated motion graphics, or even visual creations that blend reality with virtual imagery and/or music, where time and change are key expressive elements, are usually part of the techniques that video artists use to produce their work.

Good to have a look at:

    • Yoshihide (Yoshi) Sodeoka – heavily saturated psychedelic videos like “Forays into Clamor”
    • Other top video artists like Christian Marclay (The Clock) or Bill Viola

Digital Painting

Digital painting reproduces similar aesthetics and procedures of conventional painting but using technology. Use of technology allows expanding the experience of the artwork by i.e. adding moving components or time effects to it (when projected or displayed on a screen), or repeating elements of the painting multiple times.

Have a look at:

Digital Photography / Illustration

Photographers and illustrators saw a huge leap in productivity when Adobe Photoshop came up to the market back in 1988. Computers would then be their allies to enhance their pictures and create amazing effects on them. While software like Photoshop was an improvement for photography, vectorial applications like Corel Draw and Illustrator did the same for graphic artists. The fact that lines and hatches were no longer hand made would allow for extended editing and back and forth of the graphic design process.

Over recent years, digital tools for photography and illustration have been heavily used not only for fine art creation but also on applied arts like advertisement and communication.


    • Joshua Citarella

Architecture / Sculpture / Design

Digital fabrication has open a whole new scenario where scalability and customization of components are used very often to produce physical 3D artwork. Improved precision of CNC and 3D printing technologies that use more and more materials allow artists and designers to produce designs and art that were before only allowed to industry-scale prototyping.

Computational design is extensively used at some of the most prestigious architectural practices. Integrated design allows architects not only to shape and construct/fabricate the buildings the way they want, but also implement data-driven design onto the projects. Integration of environmental, structural and architectural design happens to be more efficient when using effectively computational design tools.

Digital fabrication allows architects and designers to mass produce elements for their creations that would otherwise need to be handcrafted. In a way, software like Rhinoceros/Grasshopper and more, have changed the way we think Architecture and building construction. It is not a fantasy anymore to think of robots fabricating the buildings, it is actually very real. Robot-printing technology is now becoming widespread and capable of help creating structures like the Chinese Pavilion at the Biennale 2018.

Some of the leading architectural practices with specialized computational design teams:

    • Thomas Heatherwick
    • Foster + Partners
    • Zaha Hadid Associates
    • Bjarke Ingels Group

Computer Generated Graphics

I quite like this sort of place in between Photography, Illustration and Design. I come from the Architectural field and believe that concepts brought from parametric design and digital fabrication work very well also when applied to these other disciplines.


Working with elements that can be mass edited so that many tasks, which would take ages to get done when using conventional computer graphics software, could now be done in seconds by using certain forms of programming.

Digital creation opens the door to the intervention of advanced technology and software into the creative process, including the progressively increasing use of AI. This way, creation of art might no longer be reserved to humans only but, as we are starting to see, also artificial intelligence could be able to produce artwork based on a certain set of rules. Certainly a fascinating idea impossible to imagine not so long ago.

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