Real Media vs. Computer Media

The Techno-Impressionist artists were known for their interchangeable use of traditional media, and of computer-based tools that behaved like real media. In each case, the medium would be chosen for its particular characteristics in rendering the image the artist had visualized.

In some cases, traditional and computer-based media would be used in the same work.

The artists who switched back and forth between different media were able to transfer the lessons and experiences of one medium to another.


"The Techno-Impressionists knew about computers, they used computers,
but they did not become 'Digital Artists'."
> Henri de Toulouse LaTech

Real media from the art store is better because...

You can touch it with your hands.

You can physically interact with your work.

You can feel the interaction of the medium and the paper or canvas.

Wider range of interaction with the media.

Infinite range of color.

Infinite tonal range.

Infinite contrast range.

Infinite resolution.

Smudges beautifully.

You can work just about anywhere.

Easier to create large works.

Everything you do is an original.

Finished work can have a three dimensional look, where the appearance of the work is affected by how it is displayed, illuminated, and viewed.

Your tools are much simpler and they don't need electricity.

Wider range of physical media.

Up to $82 million for a single work of art.


You can go to the art supplies store and hang out with the artists.

Your work will be exhibited in museums.

Your work will be displayed against a plain white background.

Art critics and art historians will write about you.

Real media on the computer is better because..

Your hands don't get dirty.

No mess for you to clean up

**** UNDO ****

**** UNDO ****

**** UNDO ****

(sorry, got carried away)

Less intimidating and more approachable because media can be re-used and mistakes and accidents can be undone.

You can have a teeny weeny eraser, as small and sharp-pointed as a pencil.

"Dial-a-hardness" pencils.

You can have a black, a white, a red, and a blue pencil that all draw, smudge, and erase exactly the same.

Access to many different kinds of media.

Easier to experiment.

You can make variations of the same work.

Dries right away.

Doesn't get accidentally smudged.

Can't wear out media by repeated reworking or erasing.

You can zoom to higher magnification for working on fine detail.

Easier to fix, adjust, and change things.

Media gets cheaper as the technology gets cheaper.

Media gets better/faster as the technology improves.

Media evolves to remove limitations.

Media can be made to violate physical laws that bind real media.

Media can exhibit idealized behavior.

Perfect masking and friskets.

Doesn't drip or run (unless you want it to).

Doesn't deteriorate, warp, fade, crack, peel, discolor or turn yellow.

Can be transferred easily to another place.

Can be scaled and resized.

Can be viewed and distributed by computer without first having to be digitized.

Brush strokes can be recorded in one medium and played back in another.

Easier to explore -- you can take the same piece of work down several paths.

You can make as many copies as you need.

You'll never run out of paint, canvas, or materials -- just disk space.

You can vary color, tonal range or contrast at will.

A copy can be stored elsewhere for safekeeping.

You can create a new medium or modify characteristics of an existing medium to suit your requirements.

Easier to do 'special effects' (this may not actually be a feature).


You can go to the computer store and hang out with the nerds.

Your work will be seen on web sites.

Your work will be displayed against a heavily textured or weirdly colored background.

Wired Magazine will write about you.

Last modified August 6, 1999