Congratulations to all of our entrants to the LACDA Juried Competition. You have all made excellent contributions to the pioneering field of digital art and have made art history by participating in a new area of creativity and a new kind of competition.
There were so many outstanding artists of all kinds from around the globe that it was very difficult to choose our winners. We endeavored to select winners that each represented the best of a variety of disciplines, cultures and geographical locations. In this regard we decided to select ten second place winners (as opposed to five) to more fairly represent all who entered.
The pervasiveness not just of computers, but of digital media, is the defining factor of early 21st-century life. As with many other technological revolutions of the modern era, from the printing press to the camera, this one came up behind all but a few of us and bit us hard, and we’ve all been scrambling to keep pace since, with various degrees of success. This is no less true of artists than of the rest of us, but artists adapt differently – in some ways more readily, in some ways less – than the rest of us do. The main advantage artists have is the ability to approach the digital world as a new toolshed; and the main problem they can suffer is getting trapped in that toolshed, prisoners rather than masters of a technological paradigm. This has been apparent since the 1950s, when the first “digital art” was realized. Of course, back then the process was so laborious that an artist had to surrender to the tools, and the electronic mystique was likely to swallow the technique-obsessed creator. (This was less true of, say, musicians than of visual or verbal artists, but that’s another story.) With the advent of personal computers in the 1980s, and the rapid sophistication gained since by both digital machines and their operators, the genre of “digital art” has become less and less omphaloskeptic on the one hand, and less and less self-consciously art-historical on the other.
In judging this competition, we looked for work that, among other things, transcended as much as possible the self-reflexive fallacy that has weighed on digitally produced art for so long – but at the same time we looked for work that could only have been produced with digital means. Sometimes that simply meant images that seemed skillfully Photoshopped; other times that meant images that resulted from an intricate crossplay of algorithms manifesting the intersection of diverse concerns. We presumed technical virtuosity, we did not seek it; what we sought was distinctive vision brought to full expression through – and often because of – digital means.
Senior Curator, Art critic
A prime ideal of much modern art was for the art work to be "honest" about its material: much of the most radical painting of the modern period – Cubism, Futurism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop, for example – was hardly illusionistic, but unabashedly announced itself as paint applied to a surface. Digital art in the twenty-first century, however, is a shifty chameleon. Among the many works submitted for consideration by the jurors for this project were digitally-generated imagery that mimics painting of almost any style; paintings that were scanned as digital files sometimes manipulated, sometimes not, and subsequently printed by digital technology; abstract visual compositions systemically generated by musical notations, algorithms or other electronic programs; pictures punched up by elaborate special effects; straightforward "straight" photography that happens to have been recorded or printed by digital means; and bizarre surrealistic fantasies that could not be further from such photographic reportage. Through it all, our intent was not to privilege one strain of digital practice or another but, rather, to embrace the full spectrum – and the inherent conceptual contests and contradictions – that animate the practice and discourse of new media, making it so vital for so many artists working in the international art world today.
Howard N. Fox
Curator of Contemporary Art
Our ten second place winners are:
Rachel Bruya Walker
Melissa Ann Lambert