5000 Words of Artist Hideki Nakazawa: No. 5

CG Works' Printouts as Antiques

By Hideki Nakazawa

  • 1. Artistic Value and Antique Value

    Some paintings are very high in price. The price, however, does not mean "the price of its beauty." Because, the value of a painting is a mixed one of art and of antique.

    This contributes to the difficulty of understanding the value of paintings comparing with the values of other fields' arts. You can get a Soseki Natsume's novel at several hundred yen if it is paperback, but the price will become exorbitant if you want to get a manuscript of his own handwriting. Does the literary value in a paperback and that in a manuscript of his own handwriting change? Although there exist, of course, antique value and scientific value in a manuscript written in one's own handwriting, it may be proper to say that its literary value is "perceived to be unchanged." In other words, letters written by writers are only recognized as letter data when you study their literariness. Literary values do not increase or decrease by a writer's peculiar handwriting such as sweeping brush up. The fact that paperbacks are inexpensive tells that it is not for literary values (or letter data) that you pay.

    On the contrary, any whimsical stroke of a brush or any subtle brush pressure done by painters give effect to their artistic values. Any painters' actions taken on canvas are regarded as art. Therefore it is impossible to make paperbacks from paintings by extracting only their artistic elements. "Seeing some art work in a book of paintings" is different from "seeing the real." It is different in the case of Soseki Natsume's novels: Reading them in a paperback means reading real ones. There is no conception of the real in novels which are letter data.

    The above has been the state of things. It has been impossible to extract the same amount of "artistic data, (mainly visual data?)" from pictures painted by artists, no matter what techneque you use such as photography. Theoretically, artistic value of some work which has no antique value has been unable to be preserved. You cannot extract any data from even block prints, as they are limited original works. (As there exists only one of an original printing block that is a "thing," if it gets even a little damage, it will become impossible to produce any additional printings. This is completely different from the matter of novels which theoretically can be reprinted as many as you like.) Therefore, picture dealers have also been antique dealers since long ago.

    But this cannot be the same with CG works: There have already been existing "work data" there. CG artists first create work data before printing out. Those whimsical movements of a mouse or subtle arrangements of color tone are all preserved in the digital data. After this stage, all else depend on each artist's idea: You can publicize the work as it is, on the computer monitor or on the Internet, or display it at a gallery or an art museum after printing it out on paper. You can specify the way of a printout or publication. Oppositely speaking, however, it can be said that, even without specifying, having work data means that there already exists a work. In this case, CG has reached a state for the first time that it can exist genuinely by its artistic value itself, with its art work getting away from the antique value.

  • 2. Separation at the Printout Stage

    Making data is nothing but one of the process of creating a work, in case that you have already decided a specific way of a printout, and regarded the work data as only a block copy for producing printed matters. In some cases, you may add some colors on the printed matters. That is one example that you can choose.

    But some CG artists make data without having so specific an idea beforehand on how to print out, and regard the data itself as a completed work. I belong to this type. For a red color put on the upper right side of the monitor screen, for example, what is important is that R100% is designated as the color in the data, not that it looks beautiful by a company A's printer. If it also looks beautiful by a company B's printer, you can use the B's as well. Precisely speaking, you can leave the choice of which printer should be used to other professionals.

    This way of thinking resembles to the relation between composers and players of classical music. After a composer finished composing music to one's own satisfaction and putting notes to each designated place, the rest can be left to players. For example, a fermata (pause) put on a C in the second measure can be played for 3.1 seconds or 3.2 seconds, and when a player prefers it to be played for 3.2 seconds, let us respect the player's sense. A composer takes the responsibility up to the stage of writing music, and after that there can be various performances under the responsibility of each player.

    I wish it were the same in a CG field. At my solo exhibition held in June of 1997, I had to take all the responsibilities even to the works' printout and display. There may be some artists, of course, who declare that their works should include up to that stage. I do not deny their ideas that the display itself is their works. But I want to limit my responsibility up to the stage of making data. My standpoint is that the printout and display are not genuine CG artist's duty, as musical performances are not composer's duty. As such is my opinion, at the solo exhibition of 1997, it was like I took a double role of conducting and performing music which had been composed by myself. If a credit is needed, it would be like this: "Author: Hideki Nakazawa; Outputter: Hideki Nakazawa." If I could find a professional outputter, I would ask him or her to do the output, and the latter half of the credit name could be replaced with his or hers. The reason of doing this is that I am not a professional outputter.

  • 3. Outputter's Duty

    Everyone knows that for music players there are various interpretations of any musical composition, but few may know that there are various ways in printing out the same data. For the time when professional outputters appear in future, let me write down about what their duties would be.

    Firstly, a medium and a size suitable for a work need to be fixed. A medium for the output is not confined only to paper. You can print directly on the surfaces of stainless steel or glass, or video-output on the monitor screen. There is also a printer that can spray ink directly on the walls of a gallery where works are to be displayed.

    As for an expressing medium, besides a supporting body, you have to decide the way of expressing. For example, pigment ink and dye ink are completely different in their durability. What you need to decide is not only finding the ways of firmly fixing ink on a supporting body, but also finding a proper printer for your work, because some printers, for example, can perform expression by directly scraping or cutting a supporting body like plastic plate. Or you can output a work on OHP sheet and project it on the walls of a gallery.

    Even in the case of outputting on a media of paper, you can select its kind. Or, instead of having to use fixed paper, you can select a printer that can perform expression very delicately. Depending on work's contents, it may sometimes be better to output cheapishly using an ordinary printer of any company. When you want to give priority to light-proofness or weather-proofness, you can laminate it after printing out. In order to get durability comparable to oil paintings, there is such a way as this: After covering it with special film, tear off the paper used as a supporting body from the other side, and you can get an inorganic print composed of just film and pigment.

    The size must be fixed according to a space for display, but it also depends on the kind of a printer, as different printers output different sizes. If you use a huge wall, you can perform tile-setting, but how to efface the joints is a problem. When a work is made of bitmap data, an outputter has to decide whether or not it is all right to emphasize the jagginess appeared by enlargement. When you want an extremely tiny print, you have to examine if your printer's resolving power is proper enough. The reason why I stated in the previous chapter "the printout and display" as one job, not two jobs, is that printing out should be considered together with space coordinates.

    Of course, the differences between printers, concerning accuracy, color-tone expressions, and expression modes, should also be seriously taken into consideration. You have to select the most suitable printer for your work's contents. A highly efficient printer which is good for photography is not necessarily suitable for outputting geometrical figures. Here you need to have some knowhow on producing works' charms maximally by adjusting a printer's color table, and in addition, an outputter would be expected to be able to treat original works numerically in a special way, and even to make "special data for printing" fitted for the characteristic of a printer that is to be used. (In this process, your aesthetic senses in the level of printing are greatly needed.) As there are no output centers where they have all kinds of printers, you need to have the necessary experience and grasp circumstances extensively. You also need to remember that some printers do not accept some kind of data modes, that not all printers are in good condition, and of course the expenses and days required for outputting should also be remembered.

    In fact, at my solo exhibition held in 1997, as I was also an outputter at the same time, I outputted by cutting sheet my square works made of letters on light boxes of 1.3 meters square, and printed out a work of a single horizontally long line on seamless roller paper 7.1 meters long. These were actualized for the first time by finding, for the former, a person in Saitama Prefecture who had a network of special printing, and for the latter an output center in Yokohama which had only one original printer that had been developed by its own company.

  • 4. Returning to Antiques

    In the case of block prints, only a limited number of copies are printed at a time to declare a limited publication, as the preservation of original printing blocks is not so easy. But in CG, it is nonsense to declare a limited publication, as, theoretically, CG can be printed out infinitely. Also it is meaningless to print out many copies at a time, unless you know you will have a large order. Therefore you should make it a rule to print out a necessary number of copies when needed. It is sheer folly to delete original data after printing out in order to keep its rarelity, which is an example of confusing the values of art and of antiques.

    In the case of CG, you can output many variations using the same work data as I stated above. By the way, when you want to create two works by using the same data, one to be printed out on printing paper and the other to be printed on a light box, can you say that those two are the same works?

    In the case of music, when you play the same piece of music, it is the same music, even if players or recording dates are different. But as they are different as a recorded thing, the state is like this: "They are the same as music, different as a recorded thing." This is quite the same with CG, and it becomes like this: "They are the same as a work, different as an outputted thing."

    Through this process, those CG works that were considered to be non-antique data return to unmistakable antiques by becoming things of outputted CG. Genuine CG artists take charge of non-antique-side data, and outputters take charge of antique-side data. Thus, here are born "outputted CG works" of "the same and different," which are a compound of data and things.

    Although I do not go into details, this structure is similar to Aristotle's "individuum (substance)." Individuum is interpreted as a compound of "eidos (form)" and "hyle (material)," and of course, CG data or pieces of music correspond to the former, and CG printouts or recorded things correspond to the latter. In paintings before CG, eidos (form) represented artistic value and hyle (material) represented antique value, as I wrote at the beginning of this article. CG has divided those two more clearly; it is actually a system that treats those two differently. This division that has been actualized since long ago in the world of literature and music, has at last become possible in the field of art.

    This is very different from Aristotle's thought that explained that eidos (form) and hyle (material) had a one-to-one correspondence. In the day when a thought stayed just in one painting, it was the most appropriate explanation, but it is no more persuasive in these copy days. Although CG's outputs are copies, they can also become antiques by another contrivance, and so the construction is of a multilayer.

  • 5. Open Warranty on the Internet

    As I needed to take charge of my own works, I started to allude even to the antique side of my printed-out works. You need a new way to manage them, as outputted works are different from a painting of only one or block prints of a limited number. The most important thing is to give a warranty to the buyer of a printed work. You have to prove the antiqueness according to my theory stated above, not by depending on limiting the number of copies. Actually, I have established on my homepage a value-warranting system by putting an "official announcement" that publicizes the credit data at the point of outputting. I perceived the warranting function produced by being opened to the general public. This kind of an attempt of mine may be the first one.

    The main points are as follows: "Basically I do not limit the number of outputting copies." "Only necessary number of copies are to be printed, only when needed." "Printed things of the same data have serial numbers. (Even if outputting conditions such as an outputting media or size are different, they have serial numbers.)" "I put my autograph on a printed thing." "I take a picture of the autograph with a digital camera, and publicize it on the Internet." "I issue a certificate attached to the printed work." "I publicize a credit written in the certificate on the Internet." "The credit is composed of [original work's data], [printed work's data], and [warranty of the data/related facts to publication]."

    In [printed work's data], I put an item of "purpose of outputting." In the case of outputting answering a buyer's order, the buyer's name will be credited there if desired, (which will not be canceled because of the name of "purpose of outputting," even if resold). Through this system, a buyer not only has knowledge of the antique value of the purchased printed work objectively and relatively, but also lets the world know about it. It will be the same for future buyers.

    The appearance of this CG's system has made possible for you to manage the artistic value and antique value of art works far more clearly than previous days.

    (Written in December, 1997)

    (Entries in the margin)

  • Block Prints and Printed Matters---Multiple

    Block prints are all originals, as their original blocks are not data but "things." But multiples such as prints based on a block copy's designation or industrial goods based on some instructions have sometimes been considerably similar to CG stated here. The term "ordered art" shows its significance.

    However, a big difference exists between CG and prints or multiples: In the case of CG, you can produce different "things" of various appearances from the same data as many as you like, by changing outputting conditions. This system can always reproduce new values whenever you want, and therefore, there will someday appear various reproductions from the same CG works, such as "outputs by the then printer" or "outputs in a style in vogue," just like there are such performances of Mozart music as "a performance by the then instruments" or "a performance in a contemporary style."

  • Eidos (Form) and Hyle (Material)

    Aristotle's concept of eidos (form) originates in Plato's idea-ism, and the concept of hyle (material) originates in Democritus's atomism. The original meaning of eidos can roughly be said as "the form or concept which forms a body," and that of hyle can roughly be said as "material or matters."

    The theme of my exhibition in 1997 was "bitmap and object," which is also the theme of this serial. The bitmap corresponds to hyle (material) as it is a modernistic expression of the atomism, and the object corresponds to eidos (form) as it is a modernistic expression of the idea-ism. Concretely speaking, the square works of letters above mentioned were the works where atoms of letters were arranged in a bitmap-way, and the work of a horizontally long line was the work where a topological form of a line was displayed as the object.

    Therefore, it can be said that its multilayered structure like a nest of boxes has already started from this stage. For example, in one of my square works of letters, "Letter-coordinates-type painting of 29 letters by 29 lines, No. 1," "hyle" (material) was expressed as the work's data which was "eidos" (form), and from there it was printed out on "hyle" (material) of a light box. A printed-out thing itself is an "individual thing" which is a compound of hyle and eidos, and at my solo exhibition, a work of glimmering colors shown on the monitor, which was being placed in the center of the room, was displayed as a "chimera" which was a compound of the bitmap and the object. (The work being glimmering, it got rid of being a "thing.")

    By the way, you need to pay attention to the definite opposition between two things shown in this article, as it is made of a multilayered structure. For example, to think that an artistic value is eidos (form) and that an antique value is hyle (material) is proper if seen schematically, but if you think the matter within the word of an antique value, the higher a work's artistic value is, the higher becomes the work's antique value. An antique value is not the value of a material which makes the thing exists, but is the value of the data annexed to the thing. Although it is schematically proper to think that outputters take charge of hyle (material), the real side of their being called professionals may rather be their side to give works artistic values, which is eidos (form), because what they actually do are to decide sizes and display works in the most beautiful ways.

    An opposition between two things, not confined to these examples, essentially has another opposition between two things inside itself, which also has another opposition between two things inside itself. It has such a structure of a multilayer and of a somewhat fractal.

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