About the Artist - Tony Karp
Tony Karp has been working with projects involving art and technology for over fifty years. He believes that all art requires technology, and vice versa. Tony calls this blending "Techno-Impresssionism."
Tony's work has taken him down many paths, through many different careers with the common thread being the successful integration of art and technology.
Tony created his first professional images as a photographer. In 1959 and 1960 he took most of the photographs for NBC's on-the-air advertising. His work also appeared in Life Magazine, the New York Times, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated. He received several Art Directors awards for his work.
During the 1960's, Tony's technical interests turned to engineering. The high point of this work was the design of a computer-controlled zoom lens that was used to shoot the opening scene of "The Godfather." For this work, Tony was nominated for an Academy Award for Technical Achievement.
In the early 70s Tony became fascinated with computers. For the next twenty five years Tony was the architect and systems designer for a number of large computer systems. Tony designed and built the computer system that controlled a large multimedia pavilion for the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. At Walt Disney, Tony worked on a "next generation" system for controlling theme park rides and shows.
In the early 90's Tony changed his focus and again made art his metier. He created the concept of Techno-Impressionist art, in which he combined his knowledge of art and computer technology to produce new and varied images. His largest artwork is the Techno-Impressionsist Museum, a complete art movement on an Internet web site. Tony used technology to build the web site, and art to create the images. There are shows, exhibits, and galleries in the museum.
Since restarting his work in art, Tony has had two shows in Paris and several shows at venues in the New York City area.
Tony now works in his studio in a rural area of northern Virginia, creating art for the Internet and prints for galleries
The Artistís Methods
There is bad art, good art, and even great art, but most of it isn't interesting art. If you go through any of the large art museums, you will find some rooms crowded and most rooms empty. I believe that the art that draws the crowds is the interesting art, and that is what I aim for.
Most of my current pictures start with a digital photograph. I work on these images without a definite plan, experimenting until I produce an interesting image. Sometimes I know what I'm looking for when I begin. Sometimes I trust to fortune. I've developed many techniques, but I try to remain open to new tools and techniques that lead down unexplored paths.
Most photographs strive for total accuracy and realism and this makes them less interesting. There is too much information. The Impressionists discovered the secret of removing some of the information from a picture. Each viewer recreates a different view of the artist's vision and this makes the picture more personal.
There are many things that can be done to an image, once it is in the computer, to achieve a more interesting look. You can use retouching to remove defects, and you can correct the color or the contrast. The most interesting thing you can do is to remove some of the information from the image so that it is more like a painting. At one end of the spectrum is total realism. At the other end is total abstraction. I try to place my images into this spectrum at the point where it is the most interesting.
I also try to vary the techniques I use, just like Picasso and Man Ray. I think that these artists got bored with a technique and moved on to new things. There is always the danger that an artist will develop a style and then be forever typed by that style.
I try to keep my images both strong and simple. I try to invent new techniques, not just for variation, but to open new ways of seeing an image.
The last step is to either print the image, or to put it into a form that can be viewed easily on the web. The printing is very much like printing a photograph in a darkroom. You must first size and place the image on the paper. You also have to make a number of test prints in order to get the optimum image.
It is a challenge to create art for both the Internet and for prints. Internet art is restricted by the small size of the computer's screen, but you can have many colors. For prints, you can have a very large image, but the inks have a smaller range of colors. Currently, I am exploring the use of a printer that has a wider color range and is closer to what you see on the computer's screen.I believe that this is a new form of art. It is a combination of photography, computers, new materials, and traditional methods. I am trying to create an impressionist art movement for the 21st century.
The Artistís Materials
I use a pigment printing process, producing images on high quality, heavyweight rag paper of the sort used for etchings or lithographs. Like the Fresson process, this method yields prints with archival properties much greater than traditional dye-based processes such as Cibachrome, Type C, or dye transfer.
The two important elements that make up a print are the ink and the paper. You have to find a combination that will yield the highest image quality while, at the same time, resist fading and discoloration with time. In addition, the printer adds its own personality.
The first thing I look for in a paper is the weight and the feel of the paper itself. Even though a print will eventually be framed, there is a richness in handling a print that has been made on a beautiful, heavyweight paper.
For this type of printing, the paper has to be specially coated to hold the ink properly to preserve the image depth and detail. A standard heavyweight watercolor paper would yield images that are flat and lacking in detail. Lastly, the paper must be stabilized so that it does not interact with the ink, or yellow with age.The combination of ink and paper that I use will have a life of over 100 years without fading. Unfortunately, the materials used to make the prints are very expensive, but I believe that the result is worth the cost.
An artist faces many choices when making prints. Should you do your own printing? Should you make just one of each print, or an edition of many copies of the same print? You have to balance this against the available time and materials.
I work like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. I print as many different pictures as possible. And, to get the best control of the final result, I do my own printing. I also use the very best materials.
I don't do limited editions or multiples because there is not enough time to produce more than one of each print. In order to get the tightest control over the quality of my work, I do all the printing myself. It takes as long as a day just to make one print. I make lots of test prints to explore variations in color and tone. Sometimes I will make several variations of the same picture until I find the image that I'm looking for.
On the back of each picture is the date that it was printed, information about the image used to make the print, the title of the image, and a note about the materials (ink and paper) and printer settings used to make that print. I track each individual print in a computer database.
Sometimes, I revisit an image, printing it again if I think that there is a way to improve it, or if I have better materials or a new printer that can enhance the quality or improve the longevity of the image.
I am continually trying new methods and materials. New inks. New Paper. New software. New printers. This is an evolving process of continuous improvement and experiment.
I want to make as many different images as possible, not lots of copies of the same image. For me, a print is a "proof of concept" of an idea and an image. If it is correct, there is no reason to make more than one, since this would detract from the time that would be spent in printing the next image.
Are these prints originals? In many ways, yes. Many will only be printed once. Each print is dated. Some of these pictures will never be printed again.
Displaying the art
The final piece of the puzzle, in creating prints, is how to display them. The most obvious way is to frame them, behind glass. This offers certain benefits. The print is protected from the elements and from curious hands. It fits in with the currently accepted way of displaying art. And, for some, it gives the print a more expensive look.
But there's a downside as well. The most obvious is the cost, especially if the print is large. In many cases, the cost of the framing will exceed the cost of the print. Another problem is the choice and size of the mat that surrounds the print. This can add greatly to the size of the framed print, making it difficult to place. The mat and the frame add two more distracting borders to the print. The person who is interested in buying the print may not like the frame that the print is offered in. But the most serious problem in framing prints is that the reflective glass surface in front of the print is a distraction that will keep you from appreciating the beauty of the print itself.
So what's the answer? One thing that started me looking for a different solution was the realization that a lot of art is displayed without a glass covering. Paintings, for instance, are displayed framed, but with the canvas exposed, the better to be seen from all angles. Scrolls, from China and Japan, are displayed without glass.
So I have begun an experiment with displaying my prints without frames, much in the way that scrolls are displayed. The print can be made without borders, or with a large border like a scroll. If there's a large border, it can be made in a color that acts like a mat to offset the print. The print is held by two aluminum bars, one at the top and one at the bottom, like a scroll. The first time I put a print in this "scroll mount" up on the wall, it was a revelation. The print seemed to jump off the wall and there was no distracting frame or glass to disturb the view. I could stand anywhere in the room and see the full color of the print from any angle.
Techno-Impressionism and the Techno-Impressionist Museum
The Techno-Impressionist art movement, which Tony began in the last decade of the Twentieth Century, appeared to contradict the popular art movements of the time. In some ways, it was similar to the break from tradition that marked the first Impressionist movement in the 19th Century. Evolving into the present, Techno-Impressionism is a "trans-millenial" art movement.
Techno-Impressionism uses modern tools and methods to create images that appeal to the viewer in the same manner as the works of the first Impressionist movement. Tony did not fall prey to the lure of the technical and become a "computer artist" or "digital artist."
The Techno-Impressionist Museum first opened to the public on the World Wide Web in 1995. It was an experiment in new ways of displaying art. Tony realized that "Internet Art" - which required both good art and a gallery that could properly display it - was an art form in itself. The entire Techno-Impressionist movement is an artwork. In a sense, an art movement (with its own museum) is the ultimate artwork.
The Techno-Impressionist museum is different from other museums on the web because the art is easy to view. Much of the art was created especially to be viewed under the unusual environment that defines the web. The layout of the museum makes it easy to navigate. You get the maximum of art with a minimum of mouse clicks. It is also the only online museum with a restaurant and restrooms. The latest addition is a journal, with one entry every day -- each entry with a picture and with some words by the artist.
Most interesting are the imaginary artworks in the museum. Although the images are real, the processes used to create them are imaginary.
The museum features many different ways of viewing art. One show purposely features images that are larger than a computer monitor. The viewer must scroll through the image, discovering many interesting details along the way. The latest entry to the museum is the Techno-Impressionist Journal. This features a daily entry with a picture and some words by the artist.
The Techno-Impressionist Museum is not a "virtual" museum. It is as real as the Louvre. It can be visited from anywhere in the world, at any hour, on any dayThe simple design of the museum makes it easy to add new exhibits and to update the current ones. As a result, the Techno-Impressionist museum has been able to grow and evolve over time. It is now one of the largest art sites on the Internet. Like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Louvre, it is too large to see at a single visit.
The Curator of the Techno-Impressionist Museum is Tony Karp
Last modified August 17, 2006