Too Perfect to be Natural: Digital Art and the Quest for Perfection

By Kevin Todd.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Religious art in many cultures often utilizes an underlying geometry to generate form, resulting in images that are ordered, rational, and ideal; images that seek perfection. The geometry provides the structure to build the form and it is possibly this process rather than the eventual aesthetic that gives these images their presence and authority. This quest for an underlying perfection is also evident in digital technology with its mathematical precision-the virtual world is ideal. However, these geometric structures have the capacity to generate a variety of forms including those which are “imperfect.” Indeed, the Scottish philosopher David Hume (b.1711) questioned whether God was also responsible for disorder in the world.
(abstract text adapted from: Todd, Kevin, too perfect to be natural exhibition catalogue, Ruth S. Harley University Centre Gallery, Adelphi University, New York 2010)

This paper will position digital art in the context of an attitude to nature and a longer quest for perfection evident in religious imagery. The metaphysical aspect of digital technology will be discussed along with the rational/computational character of forms from older religious imagery and in particular from India. The paper will also examine how these concerns contributed to the creation of too perfect to be natural, a series of twenty-two paintings and computer generated forms exhibited in New York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 2010 and 2011.

Keywords: Digital Art, Visual Art, Art Practice, Religious Art, Generative Art, Art and Science, Art and Technology

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.75-90. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 7.222MB).

Kevin Todd

Senior Lecturer, School of Communication, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Queensland, Australia

Has wide-ranging experience with exhibition, public art and residencies/projects, in Australia, Asia, the UK, Ireland and the USA. His work has been recognised through grants from the New Media Arts Board and the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council; Arts Tasmania; Arts Queensland; the Australian Network for Art and Technology; the Australian High Commission, Singapore; the Arts Council of England and The Asialink Centre at the University of Melbourne. Kevin has also been a visiting professor at the State University of New York, Cortland (2001/02) and a visiting scholar at New York University (2008) and he will exhibit and undertake a residency in Bangalore, India in June/July 2012.

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