The web mistress (as she calls herself) who is otherwise known as Jo Bradney, fellow artist and the lady responsible for the way this website appears, has created a webpage for my site that will allow for zooming into the detail on my drawings. I am immensely pleased that this is going to be up and running soon; I have a serious - and I mean serious - dislike of the clarity of these little jpegs online. Overall, I am rather ambivalent about jpegs: they are unquestionably easier than slides – easier to arrange, edit, label, and store, not to mention the fact that digital is so much cheaper (it once cost a small fortune to make duplicate copies of slides). I truly have no desire to go back to slides. But, I am vexed by having to depend on jpegs for entering shows or to go along with proposals for exhibitions – they just don’t look quite right nor do they accurately reflect my artwork. Unlike slides, which, under normal viewing, were projected in their fully detailed glory onto a screen, digital images are confined to itty bitty little monitors, making my drawings appear as little book illustrations rather than the large-scale objects that they are. Or, much worse, jpegs are displayed via LCD projectors onto screens so there is this overall pixelated quality to the image. I suppose that at the very least I should be happy enough that I am not trying to reproduce the depth and light of encaustic or the texture of impasto paintings digitally.
I am reminded of an interview I once heard with Neil Young around 20 years ago: he was complaining about the tinny sound of CDs as a result of the way the music is stored in a digital recording. Essentially, the pure sound of the musical information is simplified and broken down into digital bits, 0s and 1s. He compared it to an analog photograph versus a digital photograph – an analog photograph has all of the pure subtle transitions of light and value whereas the digital photograph abridges visual information into small squares of data. The sound is on digital is not pure (and, if you have ever listened to an analog recording on a high quality vinyl record, played via a good pair of speakers, off a good turntable through a good amp, then you know what I mean – it makes an mp3 recording of music seem like you are listening through a tin can).
Which brings me to my true vexation with jpegs: since the level of resolution used for most applications or shows is so low, the information does not accurately portray the artwork, almost regardless of media, whether realist, abstract, or three-dimensional (although I suspect that jpegs might be fine for photographers or those working with digital media). The concept is often clearly translated through a jpeg (the image is the image) and the values and colors may be correct, but the magic that is a true work of art is not reflected: the details, the marks, the movement, the surface, the scale, the light, and that enchanting thing that is transmitted from a work of art that has been touched by the artist. A good slide, which normally had to be projected onto a screen (not on a little monitor), often came a whole lot closer to representing the essence of the artwork.
It is interesting that for such a progressively more visual culture we are getting less and less of the intangible and magical power from the presence of an actual work of art, and more of a cursory impression of the idea and concept behind the artwork. [Sigh] and then again, there is the not-to-be-ignored, fantastic ease of getting your work out there on the internet in this world of digital imagery at your fingertips.
So, can you guess what I will be doing over the next few weeks? Organizing my jpegs for applications that I am sending off in the mail. It does not escape me that nearly every show I have had was as a result of word-of-mouth or a curator seeing my work in person – rarely off these little reproductions. But alas, there are some things I want to apply for that are only taking jpegs, so it is time to suck it up and send these jpegs off, because this is how things are done these days.