ART, BOTANY AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES

The daily use of software for drawing and painting, powerful computers, high quality  museum printers or natural pigmented inks and high quality artistic media, involves the implementation of these new image mechanisms.

 

The work presented here preserves the philosophy and basic principles of traditional botanical illustration, while  addressing it from a, not in anyway unknown methodology to the scientific world, daily assumed by all sciences and which results in the application of new technologies .

 

Perhaps my background as a botanist has been decisive to adopt this digital medium where art, science and technology combine their features to give a new meaning to the Leonardo da Vinci´s words:

 

 

"The most useful science

 is the one whose fruit

is easier to communicate "

 

 

Undoubtedly, the digital technology provides a number of features common to all the traditional media of producing images, showing a reality very different from the revolutionary concept that might at first appear. Nonetheless being its existence based on proposals made by other arts, the fact remains that its nature separates them radically from all of them, attending this way to a reinterpretation of traditional art forms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hence, today, we may  add to the traditional botanical artist profiles those that allow the use of computers, digital tablets and computer drawing programs. Tools, after all, not very different from those used throughout the history of botanical illustration and employed for a common purpose, discover and depict the scientific and artistic essence of plants.

 

Art is the result of a creative, original and unique process where the artist is closely related to different materials and media. Digitally created works are part of a broad artistic medium range. However, the meeting between the artist and his digital tool does not guarantee the final result of the work without a prior knowledge of the classical drawing and painting techniques.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New technologies have significantly modified the way we produce images and communicate them. However, the scientific purpose remains the same, grasping to the millimetre the fullness and diversity of a unique  and ever changing world.

 

If we analyse the different reproduction techniques used in botanical illustration throughout the ages, we may be astonished to discover that their evolution has always run  parallel to the development of the new technologies. Thus the woodcuts that monopolised the reproduction of most books, texts and images during the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, were replaced by the metal engraving, as the advance of scientific knowledge required new reproductive technologies, able to overcome the quality of the xylography. The same will happen with  the lithography, in future years, consolidating therefore its hegemony over other methods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However it was not until well into the nineteenth century that it started to highlight  the scenario where to design the guidelines of a new modern iconography. In this context, the photomechanical process (photoengraving and phototypography) will take over from the lithography and will consolidate as a method of reproduction in botanical illustration.

 

But in the late nineteenth century photography shall break into the iconographic panorama changing the link between man and their visuals dramatically, setting a turning point in the relationship between image and science. Photography allowed, for the first time, to  remove human hand in the visual representation of reality. But as Monique Sicard would say in 1991 in her book Images d'un autre monde. The photographie scientifique:

 

 

"The emerging photography was the expression

 of science wanting to understand.

 The drawing was the one that wanted

to explain "

 

 

But if photography completely changed the ancestral  relationship between art, science and technology, the digital age would bring about a new revolution only comparable with the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the twenty first century the PC not only has become the centralized tool for information and communication in everyday life, but also an application capable of generating art, science and culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, the digital term  has broken into our society, consolidating on the art scene as a new expression language, leaving that emerging art platform that represented its works directly on the computer screen to become a reality that goes beyond what is virtual and needs to be made visible through any known support.

 

 

          © 2015 - 2017. Juan Luis Castillo

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