[Herald Interview] Digital artist Cody Choi questions the nature of ‘digital art’


When the PKM Gallery presented Cody Choi’s “Database Painting Series 1 – Stolen Data, Tiger # 00″ at Art Basel Hong Kong 2021 in March, it was a much anticipated moment for the artist who started the ” database painting “in 1997. He had a long wait for people to pay attention to digital art, he said.

“Not many people were interested in digital art until recently, when NFT seems to have sparked an interest in digital art,” Choi said in an interview with The Korea Herald on Thursday at his studio in Seoul. “Database Painting Series 1 – Stolen Data, Tiger # 00”, a work from Choi’s first “Animal Totem” Database Painting Series, has been turned into a non-fungible token and labeled at 70,000 Ether.

The 60-year-old artist completed his first database painting in 1999 by multiplying overlapping data images using computers. Choi named his own method of digital painting “New Pictorialism,” a revolutionary concept in the Korean art market. Database painting came from his idea that a new genre of art should emerge reflecting the new era of a digital society.

“Prior to the 19th century, we valued works of art that accurately represent objects, and then we focused on how artists present their thoughts and imaginations in their works since the 20th century. But in the 21st century, where data has become essential in everyday life, I started to think that artists’ creativity is based on data, which has nothing to do with the imagination of the artist. ‘artist. What I did in the database painting is multiply the data and create a relationship between it, ”he said.

Choi believes that the rapidly evolving NFT art industry has enormous potential, although it is still in its infancy.

“The art world has been agonizing over digital art for a long time, and NFT art has finally emerged. Some say the NFT art market is just a one-off phenomenon. But I think the NFT art industry is not something we can ignore, ”he said.

Choi, however, criticized the currently overheated NFT market where there are too many mindlessly created works to earn cryptocurrency. These works lack philosophy or involve wondering what digital art is, Choi pointed out.

While some say his “Database Painting Series 1 – Stolen Data, Tiger # 00” shown at Art Basel Hong Kong was too expensive, Choi says it underwent a thorough assessment before being shown at the art fair and accepted for display. Through his work he also intended to criticize the chaotic and playful NFT art market with the price tagged on his art.

“In fact, the intention was to show how the current NFT art market has gone astray with the so-called ‘digital works of art’ selling for over tens of millions of dollars. Perhaps we can classify works drawn simply with a digital pen as “digital art”, but some of them are not extraordinarily expensive.

“With the emergence of this new digital art market, I think now is the time to seriously think about what digital art is,” Choi said.

Choi’s “Totem-Stolen Data-Tiger # 00” can be viewed at https://url.kr/zoumin.

By Park Yuna ([email protected])


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