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25 January, 2005

I like photorealism

A couple of days ago, Siobhan wrote about photorealism in cgi:

The thing is, I've been watching the CGI world take little steps closer and closer to their ultimate goal - photorealism - and, I must admit, they're getting pretty good at it.
I agree, but think there's still some way to go - lighting and translucency aren't quite there yet.  I think can still recognise most cgi as cgi.

Anyway; Siobhan again (slightly edited, for brevity):

But that bothers me... it's all about emulating something that already exists. It's all about aiming for something that's already been established by a different discipline/group.
Digital imaging has a very clear goal. It's trying to get to the point where you can't tell the difference between it and a photograph. And I think that's really, well, lazy to be honest.
That's an interesting viewpoint, though not one I share.

I'm a big fan of photorealism. I was going to end that sentence with "... in cgi", but it's more general than that. If I'm visiting, say, the City Art Gallery, Manchester, I tend to gravitate to photographic exhibitions and the more 'photorealistic' paintings. I do like the atmospheric landscapes of Turner but it's the intricately detailed, accurately realised Pre-Raphaelite paintings which really grab me.

Backpedaling slightly, I also like more abstract and/or synaesthesic (synaesthetic?) work, a lot (including Siobhan's). I suppose it's a matter of the artist's apparent intent. If an artist attempts to make a direct, realistic representation of what he/she sees (or could conceivably see), I prefer it to be as accurate as possible; literally photorealistic, ideally. Plainly, someone like Picasso wasn't trying for that, and I appreciate his work just as much for what it is. I can't think of any artist better able to convey the essential shape of an animal or object than Picasso achieved in his sketches in one line.

There's a second issue, which I don't have time to pursue right now: I don't believe there's inherent value to a specific medium which one shouldn't attempt to recreate in a different medium.
Self-evidently, the 'best' means of capturing a photorealistic image of an object is to take a photograph of it, but that doesn't preclude a highly realistic painting or computer-generated image, particularly if the object doesn't actually exist outside the artist's imagination.

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