What is Digital Art?

Digital Art Intro Image

Digital Art

What is Digital Art? It is art created on a computer in digital form. Wikipedia’s definition is: Contemporary art that uses the methods of mass production or digital media.

A Digital Image


Again we ask ourselves, “How do we define “digital?” (since the definition was “in a digital form”).  A digital system uses discrete values but isn’t always symbolised numerically. The word “digital” comes from the same same source as “digit” and “digitus” (Latin word for finger) as fingers are used for discrete counting.


Probably the above ain’t really a good explanation. I’ve got a better explanation (hopefully it helps you understand better) from http://www.techterms.com/definition/digital. This is how it goes:

Digital information is stored using a series of ones and zeros. Computers are digital machines because they can only read information as on or off — 1 or 0. This method of computation, also known as the binary system, may seem rather simplistic, but can be used to represent incredible amounts of data. CDs and DVDs can be used to store and play back high-quality sound and video even though they consist entirely of ones and zeros.

Unlike computers, humans perceive information in analog. We capture auditory and visual signals as a continuous stream. Digital devices, on the other hand, estimate this information using ones and zeros. The rate of this estimation, called the “sampling rate,” combined with how much information is included in each sample (the bit depth), determines how accurate the digital estimation is.

Compact Disc

Compact Disc

For example, a typical CD audio track is sampled at 44.1 KHz (44,100 samples per second) with a bit depth of 16 bits. This provides a high-quality estimation of an analog audio signal that sounds realistic the human ear. However, a higher-quality audio format, such as a DVD-Audio disc, may be sampled at 96 KHz and have a bit depth of 24 bits. The same song played on both discs will sound more smooth and dynamic on the DVD-Audio disc.

Since digital information only estimates analog data, an analog signal is actually more accurate than a digital signal. However, computers only work with digital information, so storing data digitally makes more sense. Unlike analog data, digital information can also be copied, edited, and moved without losing any quality. Because of the benefits digital information offers, it has become the most common way of storing and reading data.

Analog TV

Analog TV

*Analog (http://www.techterms.com/definition/analog)

As humans, we perceive the world in analog. Everything we see and hear is a continuous transmission of information to our senses. This continuous stream is what defines analog data. Digital information, on the other hand, estimates analog data using only ones and zeros.

For example, a turntable (or record player) is an analog device, while a CD player is digital. This is because a turntable reads bumps and grooves from a record as a continuous signal, while a CD player only reads a series of ones and zeros. Likewise, a VCR is an analog device, while a DVD player is digital. A VCR reads audio and video from a tape as a continuous stream of information, while a DVD player just reads ones and zeros from a disc.

Digital Devices

Digital Devices

Since digital devices read only ones and zeros, they can only approximate an audio or video signal. This means analog data is actually more accurate than digital data. However, digital data can can be manipulated easier and preserved better than analog data. More importantly, computers can only handle digital data, which is why most information today is stored digitally. But if you want to transfer video from old analog video tapes into your computer so you can edit them, you’re not out of luck. You can use a digital to analog converter (DAC) to convert the analog information into a digital signal that can be recognized by your computer.

I hope it really helps you get your concepts right. Please do not hesitate to comment. Thank you! 🙂


~ by itechsquad on March 13, 2009.

One Response to “What is Digital Art?”

  1. These questions above you pose are something I certainly needed reminding off. It is easy to get carried away in the digital world, both in a negative way and positive (which also means taking it for granted). Thanks

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