War Brushes Aside Paint as Tool in Art Training; Technology Plays New Role as Artists Also Dissect Issues

By Basinger, Brian | The Florida Times Union, May 12, 2003 | Go to article overview

War Brushes Aside Paint as Tool in Art Training; Technology Plays New Role as Artists Also Dissect Issues


Basinger, Brian, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Brian Basinger, Times-Union staff writer

ATLANTA -- Kevin Roy openly admits he wasn't trying to make a "war film."

But when the University of Georgia art student found himself with a video camera, a projector and surplus butcher paper, he was fueled by inspiration.

Roy quickly covered his television screen with white paper and turned on a projector, illuminating the impromptu canvas with footage he shot of a North Georgia road.

Then the 31-year-old graduate student tuned his cloaked TV set to a cable news channel covering the war in Iraq.

The two scenes merged on the paper, the projector image from the front, the TV show from behind.

The result was a short film Roy titled Highway, in which the image of the all-American road is haunted by the veiled scenes of war and politicians shining through from the other side of the paper.

Roy added his own soundtrack, complete with bombs, city noises and children playing.

"I really don't know if it has any specific intentions or messages," he said of his 90-second film. "I just know I'm skeptical of everything I see on TV."

Despite his project's ambiguity, the Georgia native is just one of the many art students around the country who recently toiled over artwork relating to the all-but-finished Iraqi conflict.

And just as modern warfare often relies on intricate technology, so, too, do the artists inspired by combat.

"I think we're going through a period of technological transition, a social change," said Jon Winet, head of the Intermedia Program in the University of Iowa's School of Art and Art History. "It's not surprising that we're seeing artists engaged in interesting work using all new tools."

While fundamentals such as painting and sketching are far from abandoned at the nation's art schools, many students now are likely to invest their skills in computer-drawn graphics, filmmaking and Web design.

"The question that is raised is, 'What is art nowadays?' " Winet said. "Art is evolving just as technology evolves and society evolves."

A recent typography class at the Art Institute of Boston required students to create a poster project in which they communicated their feelings about the war using only computer-designed words.

The classmates showed their various interpretations of the war by overlapping and juxtaposing words like "Bush," "trust" and "freedom."

"I think it's important for any education to include the larger issues of the day," said Geoffry Fried, chair of the Design Department at AIB.

Fried said his staff views such assignments as a way to help their students grow into well-rounded adults.

"I don't see art education as an isolated thing," Fried said. "You want to provide assignments where students have things to think about and discuss."

While this new generation of "tech-head" artists uses completely different media than prior generations, the final result is no less evocative.

At the Savannah College of Art and Design, student Brent Kissel just finished a computer illustration project for which he crafted an anti-war poster. …

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