Is digital art going mainstream?

Is digital art going mainstream?

Now that art galleries have shut down temporarily, many are creating exhibitions specifically designed for online viewing. Is this the way forward?

'Dynamism 2020' by Shovin Bhattacharjee

In the current scenario, where most interactions and activities are taking place in the online world, the art community is no different. During the lockdown, limited access to traditional resources such as painting and other materials and media and restrictions on movement have helped in creating a fertile ground for experimentations with the digital medium. Therefore, in this interim period, digital art ranging from two-dimensional art prints, installations, videos and other forms of moving images have become the order of the day.

Now that art galleries have shut down temporarily, many are actively creating exhibitions that are specifically designed for online viewing. Themes centred directly around the pandemic to those exploring associated topics arising from the global situation form primary issues of interest. Anxieties related to social, political, ecological and economic fallouts on a wider level and personal concerns are being explored through multiple modalities. Many of these are being explored through photographs and digital art, created specifically for this purpose or through earlier works that are adapted for online viewing.

Minimum intervention

Two-dimensional digital artworks require minimum intervention in terms of infrastructure and hosting and viewing is also compatible on multiple platforms without add-on devices and applications. It somewhat circumvents the necessity to view it in person; the digital image is perhaps closest to the actual work, although this is dependent on screen size, resolution and true colour specifications of the monitor.

Digital art, which essentially employs technology to create art, has been around since the late 60s and is also often categorised under New Media art. From algorithms that generate art to software programmes that manipulate photographs, computer-generated art has evolved significantly since its inception, yet it still has a long way to go in terms of its popularity with collectors, especially in India.

One of the early significant works, ‘Hommage à Paul Klee 13/9/65 Nr.2’ was a complex piece by Frieder Nake. It was created in 1965 with the help of an algorithm that instructed the computer to plot a drawing. Incidentally, this piece was inspired by a painting ‘Highroads and Byroads’ by Paul Klee. Today, boundaries between traditional art forms and digital tools are fluid, where techniques and methodologies overlap to formulate an integrated approach to art making. Thus, computer-generated images may appear in paintings and painterly devices might be found in digital prints.

Digital art prints are usually available in multiples and are often offered as artist-signed limited editions. Some of the factors to keep in mind while buying them are the edition size, work dimensions and the price. Many of these have the adaptability to be scaled according to your requirement and can be customised, based on the desired size. In general, digital art could be a more affordable option as it is available in multiples, but not necessarily, since works by well-known artists may still command higher prices.

The author is a Bangalore-based art consultant, curator and writer. She blogs at Art Scene India and can be reached on

Dab Hand is your fortnightly art world low-down. It will tell you all about what fresh ideas are out there, what to collect and what to admire from afar. And, of course, what not to.


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