The Value of Digital Arts

Course: Art 85-001

Professor: Patrick Aievoli

Minyi Liang

Some people will say that only the works of art, which have entities, have collection value, or those art works will have more cultural value or commodity worth will be higher than those works, which only have digital form. I think this view is wrong, and digital arts has its own value. Although the fashion in the digital world may change very quickly, it still has its own effect to the art history, people’s minds or many other things. The example I will use in this paper is the home page of Sagmeister’s website. The design only exists in digital from, but it has its own value which cannot be had in other forms, such as paper.

The home page of Sagmeister’s website is a real time camera shooting of his work room. It is a picture which will be updated by itself many times a day, or it will be updated while the user updates the website. It shows the actual scene of Sagmeister’s studio, such as the employees doing their designs on the computer. This innovation is a good way to advertise their studio, because people who are not in the design field or people who are interested in their studio may have curiousness in their studio. People may wonder about what designers do for their job, or how they do their design. This real time camera shooting satisfies peoples’ curiosity and let people take a peek into a famous designer’s studio as long as they open the website online. This modality is the soul of this design, so that its digital form becomes an advantageous part to this design. It is more about a design than as an artwork.

The words, which are stuck on the studio’s floor shown on the website, are WORK, ANSWERS, PRESS, ABOUT US, NEWS and STORY. Those words are constant whereas the people in the studio are not. Designers are walking around or doing their works, but those words are invariable, which are facing the camera. Therefore, those words are also invariable to the viewers who visit their website, no matter what is happening or who is there. Those words are the same with the sub classifications in the catalogue in the home page. This shows that no matter what changes with the people in the office, the essence of this studio will not change, and the whole idea of the design will not change. This message can only be sent to the viewers by digital form, because it can show the different dynamic condition between people and the words. It shows that although the digital arts or digital world changes very fast nowadays, the main idea of design and the progressive spirit of designers will not change. Designers can use digital form as a presentation of their design, and they also can make some development in the digital art world. On the other hand, the irreplaceability of digital form shows the idea that makes the digital form become an important part in this design, and it also increases the value of this design.

This piece of design work can only exist online. However, it also achieves the exposure and the influence of it to viewers. People can go to the website and look at it as long as they have the Internet and tools which can let them surf the Internet. The higher the exposure and popularity, the higher value it has. This home page website can also be an advertisement about their studio. So long as people think of a home page, which uses a live shooting scene as a background, they will think of Sagmeister’s website and his studio. The commercial value in this design makes it have much value as a design work.

However, it is not enough to use the digital form to create artworks or use the Internet as a method only to act as advertising. This has become a new type of art discipline, which is different with the readymade art, Installation Art, Body Art, or Land Art. As Lev Manovich mentioned in his book, The Language of New Media, with the computerization of cultural content, the generation of the new media is inevitable. New Media Art is the artwork, which used video, computer, Internet, digital technology and other latest technologies as the media to create it, and it has already gone deep into every field of modern arts. Sagmeister also has many design works and art works that are created with new media. For example, his publicity photos for his cooperation with Walsh are their naked photos and spread by email. His works posted on his website are mostly processed or created through digital ways. The example I mentioned before, the home page of his website, is totally established on the digital media. It is also a piece of design work and an artwork for him to some extent.

Therefore, to define the value of an artwork or a design work whether it only exists in digital form is not the main issue. In my opinion, the New Media Art is going to be the main stream of modern arts, and it is inevitable. Designers can change the appearance, image, and even its meaning through the direct interaction with the work. The computer cannot only exist as a tool to a designer. It is the result of technology development. The computer or other kinds of new media becomes a bridge between designers, or artists, and their works.