The New Visual Age: The Influence of Computer Graphics on Art and Society

Pauline Freud

Herbert W. Frank’s paper, “The New Visual Age: The Influence of Computer Graphics on Art and Society” (1985) suggests that computers allow ideas to be expressed with greater ease, creativity, and accessibility. Frank elaborates on his claim by describing how computers simplify the process of converting ideas to visuals, and by explaining how technological art can add creativity to various fields and facets of life. Frank’s purpose is to outline the potential for computers as a medium in order to encourage the acceptance of technology as a canvas for expression. Since the text contains consistent use of formal vocabulary, Frank intends for the audience to consist of well-educated people with a background in art and an appreciation for the vast applications of creativity.

I agree with Frank’s conclusion that computers allow for easier expression of ideas across different contexts. He is correct when he points out that digital art allows for a faster work pace, ways to compensate for unrefined artistic talent, and larger audiences. Frank also constantly suggests different ways to portray ideas through the medium, such as replacing verbal expression with pictures or enhancing public interaction through ‘electronic museums’. However, his focus on universality expresses a view on art as a tool rather than as a creation with inherent value. He briefly refers to artistic theory as though it is not effected by the gradual change in mediums, and he states that evolving visual art does not violate aesthetic standards. Frank ultimately ignores the value of traditional mediums and artistic history with his progressive perspective. His critics may argue that digitalizing images of traditional artwork devalues the actual piece, and the ease of creation that accompanies technology lowers the need for those with artistic talent. Therefore, I wonder, does Frank see digital art as a substitute for traditional art? Or does he believe that digital art is more applicable to projects while traditional art should capitalize on aesthetic purposes? The paper was written before the modern reliance on technology, so is his paper predicting the rise of graphic designers?

Franks, Herbert W. “The New Visual Age The Influence of Computer Graphics on Art and Society.” DAM. Leonardo, 2009. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.

Image: Tbilisi Digital Art Museum


3 thoughts on “The New Visual Age: The Influence of Computer Graphics on Art and Society

  1. Interestingly enough, the author of my article discusses technology as a substitute for traditional art as well. Although his is a negative stance on technology, it intrigues me that they would both hint at such an extreme one or the other argument. Can they not coexist?


  2. I’m curious if the author was trying to get at the fact digital art was more valuable than traditional art, or was just suggesting that art was evolving into new forms. Hopefully he was saying that new techniques are so much more widely available, and the same values of traditional artwork can easily translate to the computer as well. However, I do agree that many people who argue for digital art to be a positive step in the art world often devalue traditional art forms. I also wonder why it is so hard for people to value both forms.

    Kaitlyn Ancell


  3. As this author is considered to be one of the earliest pioneers of computer generated works, it is difficult to say whether or not he truly predicted the influence of technology on art now as the art world has progressed so much since 1985. While it is interesting to see that even back then this was still an issue of concern, graphics and other digitally created forms have evolved so far from the basic computer.


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