"Digital Artists do, simply, what centuries of artists have always done by exploring and
adopting a culture's new technology toward the making of a personal imagery. In doing so
the culture is also reflected in the artwork as is the artist's personal vision. As our culture
becomes increasingly digitized, digital artists are leading the way in exploring and
defining this new culture.
Digital Artists use a medium that is nearly immaterial, that being binary information which
describes the color and brightness of each individual pixel on a computer screen. Taken as
a whole an image consisting of pure light is the feedback devise that tells an artist what is
being made and simultaneously stored on the computer's hard drive.
Digital Artists employ many types of user interfaces that correspond to the wide variety of
brushes, lenses or other tools that traditional artist use to shape their materials. Rather
than manipulating digital code directly as math, these electronic brushes and tools allow
an artist to translate hand motions, cutting and pasting, and what were formerly chemical
dark room techniques into the mathematical changes that effect the arrangement of
screen pixels and create a picture.
Digital Artists, in addition to using tools that are similar to traditional drawing, painting
and photographic manipulation tools, have special sets of image creation tools called
plug-ins or filters that manipulate the screen image in ways never before possible with
traditional tools or media. These tools give digital art an often distinctive and exciting new
look and pose real challenges to the artists who explore these new avenues.
Digital Art is created and stored in a non-material form on the computer's memory
systems and must be made physical, usually in the form of prints on paper or some other
form of printmaking substrate. In addition, digital art may be exchanged and appreciated
directly on a computer screen in gallery situations or simultaneously in every place on the
globe with access to the web. Being immaterial has its advantages and with the advent of
high quality digital printing techniques a very traditional long lasting print of this artwork
can also be produced and marketed.
Digital Art is light pretending to be pigment, whereas traditional painting was pigment
pretending to be light. Digital Art is the immaterial made material, which is to say that it is
Art as we have always known it. Computers have not changed what we do, only the way in
which we do it."
JD Jarvis, author of Going Digital: The Practice and Vision of Digital Artists. The preceding is reproduced with
permission of the author from the Digital Fine Art discussion group archives.