Unplugged

2housesI got my first mouse in 1983. It was attached to an Apple IIC, the grooviest PC to come along, a 9″ monitor, a carrying handle, white like the current Apple design standard. There was a program called Macpaint which let you make pixelated drawings but the only input device was the big clumsy mouse ( I’m not sure if scanners even existed), like drawing with mittens on*.
Things have come tremendously far since then but I have the same reservations I had twenty years ago.
Whenever I make a picture on the computer, it is a completely different experience from working with paper and pens and far less satisfying. This could be a function of skill but I doubt it. It certainly not due to any lack of variety on the part of the folks at Adobe; they give you enough tools and filters to fill a dozen art bins. And my computer can’t blamed; it’s wicked fast and I never feel constrained as I did in the old days waiting for things to render.
The problem comes down to how easily human error can be fixed on a computer. I can adjust and readjust, move things up and down, tweak this way and that, and burn hours and hours in repetitive, tedious monkeying around. If I don’t like it, I can immediately zap it.
And for me, that’s where the Art gets trashed.
There’s so many protective barriers between my humanity and the page. I can’t puddle my water, handmix my greens, rub a spot with my coat sleeve. I probably could get the accidental sprays of ink that come off my steel nib but it would take hours to do and the impulse would be gone. There’s no chance for serendipity, no forks in the road that force me to deal with my mistakes, no messes to clean up, far fewer lessons to learn.
It simply isn’t enough like Life.
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*I’m sure I have some of these historical facts wrong but, all you technohistory buffs out there, please don’t feel compelled to correct me.