We stand on the threshold of a new world of arts brought about by the digital revolution.
There have been many revolutions in the history of art. By using encaustic the ancient Greek artists replaced the gouache-like materials and methods that the Egyptians had been using for thousands of years. Likewise the Christians replaced it with egg tempera, and then in the Renaissance oil paint spread from Flanders to Italy, and from there to the rest of the world.
Each change represented new technology that suited the times, but realistically, at each step images were still made with paint. Then, little more than 150 years ago a huge revolution started. It was so profound that many artist's and critics made bold statements about the imminent demise of painting. It didn't work out that way, in fact painting thrived. So did the new medium - photography - alongside traditional painting.
The digital revolution has produced some similar statements about the end of paint as we know it. Somehow I suspect they will be proved wrong, and that both the art forms will have a prosperous future. There is good reason for this. The digital world offers exciting new ways of working, and it will expand the artist's repertoire in ways that we can guess at during these early times.
On the other hand there is a primal need within human beings to make marks with the hands. Every child feels it as soon as he or she is able to hold a piece of crayon or a pen. This need runs deeply within our psyche and is not going to disappear any time soon. How else do we account for the continuing popularity of charcoal? It is in our genes - that heritage from a hundred thousand years ago - to make marks from the burnt wood in the fire. The dipping fingers into wet clay to make marks on the face, the painting with a gouache on the wall of a cave to encourage the spirits of animals to co-operate in survival.
Survival in today's densely populated world requires new ways to soothe the spirits of both the internal and external worlds. iPods and laptops have become the new tribes and the internet is both heaven and hell. Electricity is the modern equivalent of the power of God.
The artist's role is no longer to perpetuate the life of the Pharoah. Nor is it to be lavishly rewarded by Popes or merchant princes. We have been 'liberated' and 'empowered' and expected to live a bohemian ideal. Yet we find that the burden of survival can be as much a prison of the intellect as any limitations placed by past tyrants. Perhaps our biggest problem is the internal tyranny of an artist who dreams, yet all too often finds the dream drowning in an unforgiving reality.
Despite these dilemmas I have the great privilege of being an artist in today's new world. While my dreams are far greater than time or money could ever allow me to do, I am able to indulge my primitive creative urges that satisfies me in a way that money and other conventional rewards could never compete with.
Along the way I have always loved science and technology, so it is logical that I would embrace the computer and digital means of making images. I do have the dichotomy to deal with of being on the one hand an artist very much in tune with the Renaissance, that simpler approach to art of simply getting figures down in a way that conveys the drama of the human condition using realism. On the other hand my mind seizes with joy the ability of the internet and software to do that and share it in ways never before possible.
This site is part of that. It has the immediacy of a blog form and uses moblogging - the creating of content in a mobile phone and uploading it directly from phone to the internet. It also has extra pages more like a regular web site. It is my diary, and as such has the tedium and ups and downs of a real life in action. it is a life, however, bohemian at its heart, and just as importantly, eccentric, real, and passionate. My name is Tony Johansen. Welcome to my world.