What is the Definition of Art?

I Am Art?

If you’re not an artist you probably never thought much about this question, but for an artist, this is something that sometimes boggles the mind. Most people have their own definition of art and creativity, so it can be a discussion with a lot of conflict at times when people disagree, but it is actually more simple than it might seem. So..

What is the Definition of Art? Everything..

Modern art confuses many people, as objects most would not consider as art immediately are on display. For example, a few years ago some folks won an art prize for creating an image of iron man in a toilet made from blood and urine. When you see the piece, you might not think it is very good at all, but apparently some judges thought it was brilliant. I’ve heard of other similar situations involving toilets, and urine.

Another example of art gone crazy, a blue painting with a single white strip sold for over 40 million dollars. Most sane people would question how it could possibly be worth this much. It probably cost less than a hundred dollars to make, and I can’t imagine the artist spent years painstakingly rendering the details.

When it comes to performance art, well.. It can get pretty weird too. By far, this video IS the weirdest performance I’ve seen, I’d be surprised if you don’t agree. Here is another example of some crazy performance art involving a woman who is painting a canvas using some kind of ‘egg’ filled with paint that is being pushed from her genitals.

There were unconfirmed rumors that a man tied up a stray dog in a corner at an art exhibit and allowed it to starve to death. He called this art too. Many serial killers who mutilated their victims in creative ways probably considered their work a form of art too, and by my definition, technically it actually is. By the way, defining it as art doesn’t mean I like that they exist at all or think they are beautiful or worthy of praise of any sort.

What makes good art though? This is completely subjective unfortunately, meaning just about every person will have their own opinion. This makes it even more complicated to define art for some because if they don’t think it is good, then they do not considered it art even though by a technical definition it actually is. Usually the term crap is used instead. Art is super subjective, and that is why being a professional artist is quite difficult. Your client might ask you to design something you think is cool, but your opinion of what is cool is completely subjective. Very rarely will it match with the opinion of your client, at least in my experience.. ;)

The traditional definitions and forms of art that most people consider art, like a beautiful painting or a sculpture, is certainly being challenged all the time in these modern days. Yet complexity and beauty as well as the medium are not the ways to classify something as art. A cave painting made by a caveman, using who knows what for paint and rock for a canvas, is just as much a piece of art as the most beautiful painting by da Vinci.

For me, I have always considered art is everything and everything is art. Every object from the tiniest atomic particles to the largest star in the universe, even the universe itself. Sound silly? When I tell people this, they usually have no idea what I am talking about and think it sounds crazy or stupid. Let me explain how I’ve come to my definition though with a few examples, maybe it will make sense, but if it doesn’t that is OK too.

Lets say you take something mundane that everyone considers a typical non-art object. A white plate, and a basic metal fork. You place these items on a table or a pedestal. Would you consider this art? What would happen if the same piece was presented in a more traditional form of art. Take the same scene and same objects, but this time the image of the fork, table, and plate are painted on a canvas. Through the act of rendering the objects in a painting, many people would now consider it art, although few would consider it good art for sure.

Rather than paint the fork, lets say someone made a 3D rendering, a photograph, or a video. Lets say someone draws the image in the dirt or some sand. Someone else reconstructs the image using random pieces of garbage. It really doesn’t matter the medium, it is all art, and in my opinion the original objects themselves are pieces of art as a result.

Anything can be captured in a painting, or a photograph, or created with a computer rendering. This image taken by an astronaut contains everything we know, and everyone we have known in a single frame. Is this photograph a piece of art? Does that mean everything captured in the photograph has now become a piece of art? I would say yes.

A supercomputer simulates a 3D rendering of the universe. Is this art? Most computer graphics folks and programmers would definitely say yes. So does this mean the entire universe has now been rendered as a piece of art?

We all know, the man-made world is designed. When you look at a skyscraper or a car, you might think it us just a regular and redundant object. I look at it as art someone designed. The natural world can always be rendered into art, and in my opinion if anything can be rendered on a canvas or screen, it is already a form of art.

What is the difference between rendering the object as art on a canvas and seeing the image of the object in the real world rendered by your brain from your eyes. Obviously your mental image cannot be shared or sold, and it cannot be hung on the wall in a frame. Nevertheless, the human mind may very well be the most advanced form of an art on a virtual canvas that has existed yet to date.

If you can see it, you can render it. If you can only see it in your mind, you can still render it. Everything that has ever existed, or ever could possibly exist that can be imagined, to me is a form of art. Call me crazy if you will, but the more I’ve thought about this over the years the more true it is.

So what is your definition of art? I’d love to hear!

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2013 – Atomic Imaging throws a huge annual Halloween party!

Atomic Imaging Halloween Party 2012

Hey folks! Are you ready to have a great October or what!? It’s my favorite time of year, hands down. If you haven’t guessed by looking at some of my work, I’m a fan of the strange and unusual, so it is no wonder that I absolutely love this month and get excited about Halloween!

Every year Atomic Imaging and Golan Pictures puts together a super badass Halloween party, it is the largest and longest running Halloween party in Chicago. Featuring an open bar, multiple rooms, multiple DJ’s, live bands, costume contest, and tons of dancing. I got a chance to check it out last year and it was a blast! The ambience of the party was really great, and I love the way they decorated the venue. With all the different kinds of music and DJ’s, there was musical styles for everyone to get down. Check out this short tasty recap video I put together for them!

The best part about this event in my opinion, is that all the proceeds go to a fantastic group known as adaptive adventures, they provide people with physical disabilities the opportunity to get involved in some amazing experiences. How cool is that!? Getting a ticket, not only do you get to have a sweet time at the party, but you can feel great knowing that it is helping a lot of people experience a better quality of life.

Checkout the event page if you’d like to join the party the 28th of October! This year is going to be a Game of Tombs theme.


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Chicago Costume @ Wizard World ComicCon 2013


Thanks to Chicago Costume I was invited to check out my first ComicCon to do a little filming of the awesome event. I didn’t really get a chance to explore the whole place, but it was really cool to see the fun costumes and all the different booths, so many creative folks representing their favorite characters and creations! Check out the video!

Wizard World throws comic cons all over the place so if you’re interested in checking it out have a look at their website!

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Cheapest and easiest home 3D printer yet?

Are there easy to use, affordable 3D printers yet for your home? Of course anyone who has read tech news or looked at some of my blog posts knows that it’s only a matter of time until 3D printing becomes affordable and available locally to the masses. Surely in the near future it will revolutionize the production and manufacturing industries vastly. A new start up company is trying to bring the cheapest printer to market yet which is currently costing around $347.

pirate3d.com is the website where you can learn more about this new company and printer which is called the “Buccaneer”.

The printer comes fully assembled and is ready to use immediately it seems, however, this is understandably one of the more limited printers as a result of the low cost and mass appeal. It has a very small print size which is the major downside, and they may want to force you to use print cartridges which might be more costly rather than raw spools of material. Here is a video regarding the new printer project..

Home 3D printers are still mostly owned by enthusiasts currently, a unique group of tech geeks that are still a little bit elitist about the subject. Most of the time it is people who know how to do their own 3D modeling and maybe know a thing or two about programming/physical computing even. It takes a lot of effort and testing to get one such as the makerbot up and running well, which most people won’t have the patience for despite its amazing uses. So currently there is a viable market race, to produce the printer that is easy enough the general public will start to invest in the technology. If the public doesn’t take interest and start investing, the development progress of these home based systems will be much slower.

In the last few years, a group of companies have been trying to tap into the regular consumers, who still mostly don’t understand the technology. Eventually it will become as easy as using a microwave or a washing machine, and this will make it even more popular. Cheap, simplified printers such as the buccaneer are the right step in that direction. Another valid question is, will 3D printing be as exciting, inspiring, or useful for the average person as it is for the tech geeks?

One of the biggest issues is the technical barrier on creating your own 3D models, in particular if they are something mechanical or complex. Many companies have developed easy 3D object creators, which let you model a cup, a vase, or even an iphone case. Yet these easy tools are very severely limited and typically offer very little in the ability to make something completely unique or precise. They also typically are designed around the creation of a single type of object, and cannot deal with different kinds of objects. So ultimately, I think the success of 3D printers also is greatly affected by the simplification of 3D modeling tasks in the realm of object creation.

A whole bunch of easy to use programs will need to be developed, allowing for a huge variety of useful objects to be parametrically created, which is not an easy task at all. If it was easy, tools of this sort would have already been created long ago, making life much easier for all 3D artists working in video games/film/multimedia. After decades, there are still very few objects which can quickly be created parametrically besides the basic primitive shapes of a cube/sphere/cone, etc. Typically, 3D artists start with a primitive shape and ‘sculpt’ it into more complex objects with a variety of seemingly abstract technical tools. Unfortunately it is quite a laborious, tedious, and time consuming process.

In fact, when you consider the ridiculous amount of variations objects can have, and the ridiculous number of objects possible, it seems unlikely that anyone will develop a software to allow you to easily create any 3D object you want any time soon. It is certainly possible, and 3D printing is a big reason someone should start working on such tools. Yet it seems that it will be quite a while until the software can even get to that point since it will take time to develop, so there will be a long time where traditional skills with 3D modeling will be necessary and viable.

Many companies are hoping the 3D community will contribute their unique objects, building a public library of free objects people can print. Yet any 3D artist who has been around for a while will see contributing to this is not a great thing on many levels. For example, if you write a book you’re initially going to try and sell it rather than give it away for free, at least until you have made enough of a fortune of your own that giving away stuff is no longer a matter of surviving.

Not everyone is in that position of having the ability to give away work for free. Not only do you get nothing tangible for your hard work and give up the copyrights to your creations, but it also lowers respect for the 3D community over time as people will begin to see this as effortless work.

I’m sure the library of free to use models will continue to grow to some degree, but I don’t imagine skilled 3D modelers will want to give away all of their creations for free either. If everything is given away for free, eventually it will reach a point where there will be no incentive for the 3D modelers to create anything. It takes a lot of investment, effort, and time to develop skills with 3D programs. You can’t pay bills and eat by giving away all your work, even if it does seem a noble thing to do, so I don’t think a free library is going to offer enough incentive for the majority of 3D tech talented folks.

Ultimately, it seems understandable to predict that there will be ( or already is ) another market popping up soon for selling print-ready 3D models. There are already services where 3D artists can upload their models for other artists to use in their projects for film/video games/multimedia, so this seems like the most likely path.

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Blender updates!

I’ve been getting really excited about this program lately.. Yes it is a pain to work with, it handles everything differently than other standardized 3D apps, but I think it is worth it for anyone who is interested in 3D production to get involved. The program is constantly being updated too which is amazing, and they keep adding better features which are very useful.

Recently the inclusion of a high quality dynamic simulator called Bullet has peaked my interest. With a few extra tools installed, I can now make some pretty awesome dynamic simulations in blender. Yes other programs can do the same sort of simulations, some do so even better with more features and control, but none of them are free and have this much capability. You just can’t beat that! From someone who has been in the 3D industry doing production work for quit some time, it is just really interesting to see such a capable and feature rich tool being developed as a free app. I would have killed to have a program like blender when I got into 3D, so the kids these days are lucky in my opinion!

You do still need a fairly powerful workstation though to take advantage of it to the fullest though, one thing that still hasn’t changed drastically in 3D is the time it takes to render high quality images with sophisticated effects and realistic lighting. The fairly new cycles render engine in blender is really fantastic, producing some really lovely results, but it is painfully slow.. There is the option of sending out jobs to the big render farms these days, but it is still very expensive to go that route and not something any individual would invest in typically.

Real-time rendering for games keeps on getting better and better though thankfully, and much of that technology has begun to migrate into high end 3D tools over recent years. I still remember the days when 3D had no real time capability at all, so it is still completely amazing to me that we have reached a point where that side has evolved as it has. As the state of real time rendering engines continues to grow towards photo realism, a lot of that will translate to the professional tools improving speeds and quality of high end renders as well.

Eventually, it won’t be such a hurdle to overcome creating beautiful images with 3D tools as it is now, and you won’t need some 3D artist to rack their brain over how to achieve a photo realistic lighting setup since it will be more automated. Another great thing about blender, you can get into 3D printing if you like.. You have almost all the tools to model just about anything, and although there is a lot of technical hurdles to overcome, there isn’t any high quality rendering involved in producing a 3D model for printing, so just about anyone can do it if they take the time to learn the tools and workflow.

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