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Re: Dealing with Artistes

From: Charles McCathie Nevile <charlesn@srl.rmit.EDU.AU>
Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 14:44:36 +1100 (EST)
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.91.981121142525.16566B-100000@sunrise>
Well, it sounds like the medium of such artistes is what Australians call 
Bull (in polite company). I recently ran across just such a situation in 
preparing a catalog of a visual arts and sculpture exhibition for the 
web. As it happens, most of what uis there is not visual - it is 
information - metadata about the ork, such as its price, when it was 
created, the media used, the artist, etc. One of the pieces of such 
metadata is a short description of the work. After all, a 72dpi 
screen-based reproduction of an oil painting or high-quality photograph, 
let alone a wood and metal sculpture, simply doesn't provide the same 
experience to any user. (Those with very poor vision and a magnified 
screen may be exceptions here). Not recognising this is plain stupidity.

Which leaves us with the case where the a multi-media presentation 
requires the use of a particular set of software/hardware. Which is to 
the web as line-drawn cartoons are to visual arts - a very small subset, 
using a tiny fraction of the expresiveness and power of the medium itself 
(If we consider all hand-produced visual arts as the medium, for 
example). This is not to say that these pieces are not high-quality, just 
just that they are denied any possibility of being really great by 
artificially failing to use techniues which are avilable in the medium. 
The web is not a graphic medium, but an information medium, which allows 
content to be presented in a multitude of ways, including graphically. 
Anybody who cannot see that distinction, and the downplaying that it 
implies for graphic design as the guiding design principle for web-based 
content, is a goose. Anybody who sees it, but claims that as ebsite 
designers they are only interested in graphic design, is not fit to build 
public information websites. They may of course produce marvellous art, 
but most companies and govenment bodies are not in the business of 
producing art, and most of their websites are designed to make their 
information available. Fond as I am of sculpture, I don't care how many 
sculptures the Registry of marriages has until I can get my marriage 
certificate. That is their primary responsiblity, not giving jobs to 
graphic designers.

So my response is "Fine. But stick to what you know - make artworks, 
rather than claiming expertise in web design." (Which is what some of my 
friends do for a living, and they create art for the web which I really 
like, and which I inevitably miss about half of becuase it requires all 
sorts of wierd and wonderful plugins and features. But then I can look at 
Jackson Pollock for hours and not really find anything worthwhile, just a 
bit of paint splattered on a canvas. That's the nature of art.)


Charles McCathieNevile

On Fri, 20 Nov 1998, Kynn Bartlett wrote:

> Sometimes when trying to explain the importance of accessibility
> to web authors, and they run out of reasonable arguments against
> it :), they produce something akin to the following:
>    But I'm an artiste'!  My work is purely graphical and
>    means nothing to someone is blind; they are not the
>    target audience for my gallery of visual artwork, and
>    so I don't need to be concerned with them.
> What do you feel is the best response to this -- or are they
> right?
> --
> Kynn Bartlett  <kynn@idyllmtn.com>             http://www.idyllmtn.com/~kynn/
> Chief Technologist & Co-Owner, Idyll Mountain Internet; Fullerton, California
> Enroll now for web accessibility with HTML 4.0!   http://www.hwg.org/classes/
> The voice of the future?   http://www.hwg.org/opcenter/w3c/voicebrowsers.html
Received on Friday, 20 November 1998 22:48:33 UTC

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