Patrick Burke–The New Impressionists
It’s too bad the term “digital art” exists. It carries the stigma of
new age disposability when it’s attached to anything. As an artist my
sole concern is with ideas and expression. The medium (digital or
otherwise) is not only secondary, it’s meaningless. I’ve never heard
anyone ask, when looking at a painting, ‘What brand of paint did the
artist use?’ Yet as a photographer I am always asked whether I use
Canon or Nikon, Photoshop, or film.
These questions miss the point entirely of what art and the creative
process are about. If I were to produce a work which was technically
perfect in every respect, from the lighting to image sharpness to the
processing used, yet totally unoriginal, that would be called craft,
not art. Craft can be beautiful or not. It can be appreciated for being
highly polished, extraordinarily sharp, incredibly efficient or
brilliantly executed; but it’s not art. Here’s where the confusion
lies–the processes used in various mediums require craftsmanship. But
craftsmanship does not require artistry.
Before computers, conventional photography was already dramatically
versatile and many photographers, myself included, treated the medium
more as painters. Indeed, when photography was new some painters, such
as the impressionist Degas, treated painting as photography, creating
images which looked like a captured moment rather than a posed study.
Now, with the capabilities offered by the digital world the gap between
painters and photographers closes even more. I’m not saying
photographers should strive to be more like painters; there should be a
new category between painting and photography.
A new generation of photographers now balk at limiting the extent of
their expression to that of the captured moment. When Ansel Adams said
that the film is the score and the print is the music he was referring
to image manipulation. Photographers as artists now have choices of
medium available to them which Adams did not. These people are the New
Impressionists of photography, just as lyricists are our new poets.
Occasionally people look at my work and say “That’s not exactly
photography is it?” I thank them for seeing the difference.
Patrick Burke, April 4th, 2007