...and pulse with slight variations from moment to moment. This is akin to the emergence of meaning : the image and the object are caught in an unending kinesis of sorts, the dance between mind and perception.
I am not a technologist. But as an artist, I know that art has leveraged technology since charcoal was ground up with some saliva. Paint is a technology, so is a loom, paper and a computer. Titian's 16th-century studio was a High Tech facility, not unlike a modern film studio. Rubens' studio, a generation later, would have employed all the latest tech & gear, perhaps similar to Pixar. Rubens was not primarily a technologist: he used technology and employed techies and engineers, lens grinders and dyers.
It has been suggested the cinematic is the first art form wholly derived from technology. This is nonsense, of course–story telling is at the heart of film (or a telling of some sort).
The 1997 movie, Titanic, is a work in service of technology. Boogie Nights, made in the same year, is a film driven by something other than its methods of making. Of course, the latter employed a lot of tech–impossible not to; and the former turned out to be not much of a night to remember.
Rubens deployed as much tech as a Cameron spectacular, but there is an essential difference: the Flemish master's spectaculars consistently penetrate well beyond their mere fabrication.
We generally accept the binaries of Science & Technology and Art & Technology, and these are fine, so long as we don't mistake the one for the other. A science driven by technological concerns tends to end up in military applications or is deployed to survey our private lives. An applied science, like medicine, must leverage technology, and an applied technology, like cosmetic surgery, will develop better buttocks for us all to sit on. Science qua science is math penetrating reality. Art qua art is a poetics penetrating reality. Technology has no qua, so to speak. It must serve and not be the master of our thoughts; when it does become master, bad things happen. The Industrial Revolution is in part a history of advancement and a history of terrible abuse. The Information Revolution has always had the potential to become a Data Horror.
Yet, I believe in technology, and have actively used it in my work all my working life. I am no Neo-Luddist. When I was kiddie learning my applied math, I realized it had its uses, hence the term. But it never excited me the way the pure existence of π did. Π is a valid source of inspiration for artists; it is an equally valid point of meditation for a Zen Buddhist.
I have no doubt that Johannes Vermeer was excited by the application of optics to his work. It wasn't exactly cutting edge, but a good lens was hard to come by and he was in the right place to have such access. Vermeer's work transcends the application of that particular technology. It also transcends his brilliant handling of paint & pigment. The lenticular transforms on the appearance of reality must have fascinated him, his art was in part the act of the finely observed. His optics allowed him to observe atmosphere and the presence of light in space (what we call caustics in our 3D apps).
The Milkmaid is not just a picture of a woman pouring milk–though a perfect study as such–it's an investigation & expression of the existence of bodies in atmospherics. The subject could not be observed through his own eyes, nor via the old standby of the mirror's refection on a wall.
A lesser observer would perhaps have ignored the depth of field blur and bokeh or have eliminated it. What Vermeer was consciously observing by projection via the lens was the actual transformation. He had to realize that his own optic system was doing something similar, but he cannot have observed his own observation without a bit of high-tech! The tech is an aid to observation, and what we get is art of the highest order. Centuries later, we are given access to the mental act of Vermeer observing.
The Dutch of that period were perhaps the high-tech culture on the planet. Much of the art from that time on is technically proficient and mediocre, if not mind numbingly boring. Even a great culture is doing good to have a few truly great artists in any one generation.
The relationship between Vermeer and Mondrian is not immediately apparent, but both artists are fundamentally employing the same poetics. The subject they have in common: the actualizing of observing phenomena. Mondrian attempts to represent to us the very form of color. Van Gogh had similar aims; for him, color form was emotive form. Vincent loved his paints (which, let's not forget, are a sophisticated technology), and we can tell from the physicality of his impasto that some romance with the material existed. But for him bright yellow was as much an observed state, the existence of emotive fact, as it was a color on one's retina.
The somewhat ignored later works of Willem de Kooning are inheritors of what seems to be a Dutch tradition. We tend not to see the technology employed by the American Abstract Expressionists, it somehow seems unimportant in the fury of execution. My point is that the technology is secondary, but not without import. de Kooning’s high skill with paint required a knowledge that had to embrace the technology he employed. In this sense, he was an outstanding colorist. The act of gesture for de Kooning is, in reality, a thing of moment, as much as is the angular moment of a spinning object. The immediate act is also the act of observation. The self that is acting and observing is engaged in a projection of self examination and definition. It is a poetics that traces back to the self portraits of Rembrandt and beyond.
I am not a technologist, and I'm not Dutch. I have, however, a healthy respect for both. My working life as an artist and student of art has led me to explore many applications of science and technology. My earliest exposure to computers in the late 70's led me to examine the use of convolution matrices to explore how they might reveal the process of making. This was not unlike the use of a lens by Vermeer, in the sense that I was using a quasi mathematical process to probe a physical process. In other pages I will explore some of my thoughts and my work,but, for the most part, I rarely discuss my own work, or the private meaning of individual pieces, which is not translatable or is, at least, the work of a poet. But it is a poor poet that explains his or her poems, and all the poetry & art workshops in the whole wide world will not make good artists.
As a youngster, I once attended a Seamus Heaney lecture. There were readings and discussions, and at some point the poet was asked to explain a certain poem. The question was innocent enough, and the poem, while not particularly opaque, did indeed engage in ambiguities. The poet politely refused to explain his particular poem away, and indeed, at no point in the lecture did he ever explain anything in the particular. It would have been silly to do so. One can discuss aesthetics, organistics, formal aspects like composition and rhythm, etc., but these exist externally to the work. The interior meaning is the point of the work, the engagement with the work is a journey to that interior, and that journey is personal, for the viewer and the maker. I'm sure we'd all love to ask Shakespeare to explain a few things (if he were to pop up ex nihilo), but my guess is that he'd dance ‘round much of the boring inquiries and utterly avoid any decanting of his art into other vessels.
I will discuss materials and processes, such as they are externals. I will discuss ideas that exist behind work: the big thoughts like those about life, death and the flight of birds. I will discuss evolutionary biology and Sumerian cuneiform lettering, and the existence of things in space. I will discuss how light falls on objects like brush strokes, or how an object changes with the passage of light across its surface. But who is that in the painting to the right, does it actually refer to a person? Or (below) is that a section someone's genomic materia, and if so, whose? These are, of course, answerable but not explorable, and that makes all the difference.