Convergent Media – Is It Time to Bury Digital Art?

Convergent Media
(I’m not big on double posting, but I’m going to with this one. This post was originally published on the Wet Canvas in the Digital Art forum. I present it here because it dovetails with my previous Is Giclee Passe? post. Apologies to those who have previously read this on Wet Canvas.)

The term giclee was coined into usage as marketing jargon. It successfully allowed printers, publishers and artists get away from using the term digital art and digital printing at a time when using either was certain to cool the ardor of potential buyers of this new media.

To keep things in context, in 1990 there was no Internet to speak of, the desktop computer revolution spawned by Windows 95 was five long years into the future. Cell phones and digital cameras weren’t the norm as with today. Fax machines exemplified the cutting edge of instant communication technology. (For those of us who worked in an office then, standing around waiting to send or receive a fax was the modern day equivalent of the proverbial water cooler.) So, using digital to describe anything related to art was not going to warm the hearts of any buyer and as such the usage of giclee was brilliantly, if no luckily, conceived, received and passed into the vernacular.

Today, we have a much different environment. People are awash in digital gadgets everywhere. and photo manipulation software comes on PCs and with digital cameras and printers. In short, we are no longer afraid of using the word digital to describe exquisite things. That said, I don’t think digital art or digital artist serves the purpose of adequately describing the kind of art typified by what those who contribute to this board create.

The process of creating art using digital means is involved and multi-stepped. There is image capture whether through digital photography or image creation using a Wacom Tablet or other hardware/software. There is a manipulation of the imagery through any number of software programs such as Painter, Photoshop, Illustrator and so on. Then comes the output onto a myriad of substrates including paper, canvas, vinyl, metal, wood and more. To produce a final desired result, the artist must print or collaborate with a printer on calibrating the equipment to get the output desired. Often pieces at this stage are further enhanced to make them yet more unique, one-of-a-kind and original.

I don’t see how calling a piece of art so created a giclee makes sense. Giclee has come to mean digital reproduction which is far different than something created from the artist’s imagination and skill in a digital environment and brought to life using digital printing techniques. To my mind, the term Convergent Media makes more sense. It reflects the usage of Mixed Media, which is an ages old widely accepted art term. Mixed media describes a multi-stage process of using different techniques and media to render an original piece of art. Convergent Media does the same thing but implies the use of technology not available to previous generations of artists.

Giclee is a marketing term. I see Convergent Media as a descriptive term. Like its cousin, Mixed Media, it requires a simple explanation of the blending of techniques and media. An artist creating Mixed Media will give the details to a point and let it go at that. That is, there could be torn paper, cloth, paint, wax, items from nature and so forth that went into the piece. But exactly how it was rendered is not a subject of conversation. Just as a Mixed Media artist doesn’t give minute trite detail such as, "I used a No. 2 lead pencil to outline on a gessoed canvas." I don’t believe a Convergent Artist needs to give all the details and a step-by-step of how an image was created in order to satisfy a buyer. They are subjectively and emotionally buying the finished vision of the artist’s imagination and creativity, not her or his computer skills.

Convergent Media Artist is an accurate, honest description of a person using any number of current technologies and techniques uses to create art. Convergent Media distinguishes from using giclee and expands on the limited term, digital art. Agreed, it requires a brief explanation as does Mixed Media, but it does not obfuscate as giclee does. I think it enhances without detraction, it embodies what’s available now and in the future for cutting edge artists to incorporate into their oeuvre.

I hope this sparks debate and opens the door for using Convergent Media as a useful descriptive term.

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