Science & Technology

Artifact: Banning Water


Photorealism is a style of painting that makes an artwork look like a photograph. At left is its newly developed opposite, a photograph that has been turned into a watercolor image. The computer program that makes this possible, buZZ, is available through Segmentis ( "Art is not about detail," the company asserts, "it is about the judicious use of lines and colours."

Is it? Among those who might disagree are generations of artists for whom draftsmanship and detail were measures of competence, oil painters who had only contempt for water colorists, and photographers who struggled to have their own artistry recognized.

Today's issues are different, involving, among other things, the relationship between style and software. Even the future of artistic "genius" is unclear in a world where technology offers creators an infinite number of chances. Why? Technology gives creators new tools even as it reconfigures the eye of their beholders. We read images and their details differently. Which of these two images is "art" now? Which, if either, will look like "art" tomorrow?