lost in translation

I have been working on a painting that was based on a image constructed from a group of drawings that had been cut apart, collaged, photographed, and transferred to the computer to composite in Photoshop. I projected a completed digital image onto canvas, sketched it in with paint, and then developed while using a printout of the digital drawing as a guide.

From the outset I knew there would be elements in the drawing that I could use for the painting or leave, and in the process of selection it became apparent to me that digital images are complete by themselves, and not waiting be translated to some other material–a perspective I had not had so clearly before. They are screen work, and could only be represented in some other form, as prints on paper perhaps, but those parallel forms would only represent them in the way that a photograph might represent a painting. That is, not very well.

In visiting the de Kooning retrospective at MOMA, the divide between what is actual in the world and what is a representation or simulation of reality is obvious. If you have only seen reproductions of his paintings, you have not seen his art. They are entirely about physical presence. Actual human scale and interaction, material, touch, and color… none of which can be represented successfully.

Digital media should also be experienced natively, as art and the media in which it is conceived and created cannot be separated. Or it should be clearly understood as journalism, a pointer to an original. Something new might be re-imagined in another media, but the actuality of the original will be lost in the translation.