Digital Media – Artist’s Statement

While attending UNO for my senior semester as an art major I was required to an Artist’s Statement describing my influences and artistic ideas. Artist’s normally write Statements to introduce themselves to people attending a gallery opening, but I wrote mine to try to impress a small group of professors, who taught all types of art in all types of media, and to introduce them to the idea of web based media and Macromedia Flash being used to create art. Read the full Artist’s Statement after the jump.

Since this Statement was originally written October 15, 2002 some of the sites has changed and one no longer exists

I am one of the few digital, or new, media students who are seniors this semester. Some may wonder if digital, or web based (in my case), media is really an art form and why someone would choose to make it their influence. What kind of fine arts influences can a web-based artist have? Not many. I, personally, have not learned of any artist, during my art history classes, not I would like to follow much less let influence my work. I feel that digital media is an entirely new art form that takes some influence from the graphic design arts, but I have only participated in the two 2000 level art history survey classes and now I am in the medieval art history class. Needless to say, I have gained little from this experience other than a new found love of the complexity of the art world from the beginning of time. Artists are always striving to try something new and to be seen as up and coming. Digital media is the newest way to do this. I am able to sculpt, paint, draw, photograph and do anything else I imagine with this new art form. Luckily I have been able to narrow my search for new ideas down to ways of presenting a dynamic and changeable world to my audience. Using new web design tools and techniques, I have been able to give my user hands on participation in my work. My style utilizes the gestural figures learned within my figure drawing class and the cartoon antics of my favorite humorous comic books. Plus I have been able to draw on some of the new tools added to my favorite web art program Macromedia’s Flash MX (the sixth of their Flash series). I have chosen the web based medium because it gives me a chance to develop my art with a world wide critical audience and with the flow of new technology. Now I can create something and put it online while a work in progress then get reviews and critiques from around the globe. Also I have a love of computers that developed with my love of art in grade school. From elementary school on I tried to take as many art classes as possible and when I hit eleventh grade in 1994 I was given a chance to work with computers as a programmer for the first time and discovered the joy of creating my first computer graphic with GW Basic. From that time forward, I was hooked. When I first entered college I was a computer science major, but this did not feed my hunger to do more art so I switched to art studio and began to create more in the artistic venue. I chose my emphasis soon after transferring to UNO and learning from a teacher that I really wasn’t cut out for a normal artist life. I started seeing websites like http://www.joecartoon.com where I learned about humor and Flash. Here I was able to see artfully done animated scenes of mischief, but the user wasn’t really allowed to join to experience. I started to see sites the taught me more about flash such as http://www.flashkit.com, where I learned how to form my ideas into real web work and where I was able to see other people’s design and art as it was in process. The way I was able to develop much of my skills was through creation itself though. I was able to work in New Orleans for a computer company and I got to have a lot of freedom in the design process. I developed a site to a photographer who was looking for: “Something modern, but with a fine art edge” (http://www.neilhurd.com). Also I was able to create a dynamically growing phone book for a group of doctors uptown (http://www.tourodocs.com). This helped me to hone my skills while looking for a way to express my own ideas in this medium. But wait, there where other thing that influenced me, like love. This past year I fell hard for a girl who is working on her degree in elementary education. She helped me see that even the child in me could be present in my art and so I was able to formulate a way to tell my artistic story. I decided to use a new feature in Flash that allows access to a user’s web or video camera, if hooked up to their computer, to create a story based web site where the use actually gets to appear within the story. I had written a comic story to be animated online with the user appearing as the face of every one of the characters. Also this newfound feature has made it possible for me to put the user’s face into any picture contained on my site and print a copy out for their own use. This website will be up an running soon and online at my own address, http://www.schleifstein.net, so check out how it is progressing online whenever you feel like it. I also hope to add a way for a user without a web or video camera to create his or her own faces in the future.

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