New tools can change the way you work, sometimes paradigmatically. But for every innovation, there is something left behind or given up. Calculators have replaced my ability for simple math and spell-check has left me a sloppy speller, and thanks to my smart phone I can’t remember a single telephone number.
Of course I can make choices that will counter these affects. But with some tools it's more difficult; what they produce seems off the charts different. And what one gives up seems less significant. These are the innovations aimed at removing antiquated processes and obsolete functions.
Cad removed the pen from the designer. Photoshop removed the Xacto blades and paint brushes. Digital cameras removed the film. What they provided was a new way of working. So what are the trade offs? How is the visualization artist in particular affected?
For many nothing is missing. The way in which they work has always been the familiar digital workflow. For those with a more analog background, some things have changed greatly. And in the end I feel better off for it all. But what are we giving up?
First to the gallows of technology is value.
The final Bauhaus movement of the industrial revolution focused on reproducing a high level of craft on an industrial scale. But we still see fading posters of Renoir's Gondolas decorating the walls of a windowless Italian pizza place. This might seem like an argument for authenticity. But value is at the heart of the matter. The ability to easily reproduce something has diminished it's perceived worth. To the average person my work is of less value because I used a computer to make it. And we all know that with a computer you just have to enter a few things and poof, the computer does it all for you. It's not like a painting or sculpture that is the result of talent and skill and technique applied over grueling hours of effort.
Maybe it is in part an issue of authenticity. But the misperception of how something is made has critical implications.
The last of something is always more valuable. If the process to produce an object is so great that there is only one or even a few, they are highly valued. If only one of something exists and it's not easily reproduced, it has great value. Of high value is the illustration made by hand, beginning with a pencil sketch over 120 lb cold-pressed paper, then carefully rendered with passes of precisely mixed watercolor. Of far less value is the computer rendering. It didn't take any effort to make. In fact, I can buy Lumion and do the same thing myself.
Ah! There it is. The difference is in the audience. The painting is only of worth to someone who appreciates it for what goes into making it and for the beautiful result. And likewise the computer rendering is appreciated in a similar way by similar people. Presuming the works are of a high quality, they will be valued more by one kind of audience than another.
But maybe there's more to it. More to come.