Issue No. 02 - March/April (2006 vol. 26)
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MCG.2006.47
Based in Vienna, digital artist Georg Hübner says on his Web site: "To create realistic reflections of my surrounding environment never was my aim. I would rather … show the things between and behind. Trying to make my thoughts and perceptions visible is a [satisfying] and thrilling way to create my digital paintings." But that doesn't mean he only works with abstract images: "… sensible people feel and know there is more than one level in our world," he explained. "The level we all well know is the purchasable, the touchable. This reality doesn't interest me so much in creating my artwork. Too many artists through history have done many great veridical paintings. There is nothing to top for me. The 'things between and behind' is precisely what I'm looking for when I create my art. It doesn't matter if the image is abstract or representational in order to visualize this."
After attending music school, Hübner entered the field of photography in 1993. Next came a few years of experimentation with analog photography. "In 2002 I began creating a Web site [to showcase digital versions of an analog photography] exhibition of mine," he explained. "I had to digitalize all of the images and sharpen and correct the contrasts." At that point, everything clicked and his foray into the digital world began. It allowed him to do things quicker than the analog world did. "Many of the expressive possibilities, before only obtained through incredible efforts in the dark room, were now at hand. And [they were] more precise and time-saving than previously."
But there was a flip side, of course. He found the main disadvantage with the digital world is that there's simply too much to do. "It's the infinite number of possibilities, the wideness of choices and the speed that things happen in the digital world," he said.
Flower Power and more
The title of the cover image, Flower Power, refers to Hübner's teenage years in the 1970s. He explained that the image features overwhelming colors and fast motion, but also a certain centered power that reflects a sense of pleasure. "That was the starting point to create this image," he said. "The workflow here began with a fractal generated in Frederik Slijkerman's Ultra Fractal 3.04. It's an often used program that allows a precise control of form and color. The postwork was done in [Adobe] Photoshop using Flaming Pear and Kai Power Tools plug-ins."
Flower Power is a perfect example of how Hübner's images come into existence: "I begin by experiencing and feeling things and then I either start with a photo file or I build a fractal. In general, I adopted and studied a digital creative process that allows me to move without restrictions. But I also sorted out a lot of programs. At present my favorites to work with are Apophysis, Ultra Fractal, and XenoDream for generating fractals; a Fuji FinePix camera to create digital photo files; Photoshop, Illustrator, PaintShopPro, and Fireworks for painting and postwork; and Flaming Pear, Auto FX, and KPT plug-ins to round out."
Twins (see Figure 1) is one of Hübner's favorite images. He describes it as "sheltered from the world outside" and he created it with Ultra Fractal with just a little bit of postwork in Photoshop. "Silence all around, but nevertheless alone, is the poetic statement of it," he said. "[It's] a great example of the marvelous beauty of mathematical art to me."
Glades to Find Silence (see Figure 2) is an attempt by Hübner to join photography and mathematical art in a meaningful way. "I took a small program written by Mark Hammond that converts photo files into coloring algorithms. They can be used, changed, and worked up creatively in Ultra Fractal 3. This image explores only a small bit of the possibilities given to me in this field." Wintertime (see Figure 3) is one more image from Hübner's body of work, which can be found in several online galleries.
As mentioned earlier, Hübner begins with a mood, feeling, or idea that gives him the drive to start working. After that, he said there is no way to plan anything exactly beforehand. "Sometimes I start and finish an image in only one session," he explained. "In those cases, the result is more foreseeable. Sometimes it takes a couple of start-ups over days or weeks. In this case the direction can move rapidly. But this doesn't bother me in any way because I don't do my artwork by order and there are no self-imposed artistic guidelines. Improvisation is a great thing for me, but only if someone had learned and studied the matter and the tools belonging to it. And this takes much time and patience in this field."
Hübner also said that since he's a seasoned photographer, he would never like to totally forego using photographs. "Now and then a landscape generator like e-on Software's Vue 5 Esprit or Planetside Software's Terragen can help to create a more atmospheric temper," he explained. "But I like to conjoin the two fields in a canny way."
When asked if digital art can ever compete with fine art, Hübner said: "If you mean in conventional image galleries, no, not at present. But time doesn't stand still. Once there's a generation that's grown up in the digital world, I would say existing side by side is most realistic."
A few more lives
Hübner recently won first prize in the 2005 Donnie Awards of the Museum of Computer Art ( http://moca.virtual.museum), one of the most heavily trafficked and comprehensive sites of its kind. As he looks down the road toward the future, Hübner said his plans are no different than those he's had for his entire life. "I'm not going to stand still," he said. "I'm still going to be curious and change the field, always seeking new things, even if I'm personally exhausted. Since I can only approximate the potentialities of digital art in all its variety, I think the next years will be really busy. [Here's what I'll be doing]: Pursuing my own and group real-life hard-copy exhibitions; cooperating with digital artists worldwide; learning things I've only touched lightly (animation and 3D rendering); and deepening my understanding of mathematics. I think I need a few more lives."