(2006 page extracts)

When is 3D video an 'art'?

Stereoscopic 3D screens have arrived at the digital cinemas, kiosks, mobiles, and the home. They have come in a stereoscopic 3D and autostereoscopic 3D flavors, with more yet to come. Independent 3D filmmakers, working on their desk and laptops are producing, exhibiting, and distributing works in world wide venues, to include the internet.


In this 'wildwest show' of Stereoscopic 3D sites, products, and intenet claims and counter-claims, we get all kinds of stuff, most of which is 'gee whiz it's 3D!' or:


All new medias provoke a 'gold rush' mentality with some prospectors leading the 'Klondike' rush to early retirement in Vegas. Does 'art' figure in 'there's gold in them hills'? Only if you're in for something more than trends that are here today and gone tomorrow.

Popular culture is full of hyperbole and networked '3D bulletin boards', conventions, and all kinds of amateur and professional forums and 'memorabilia' offerings on E-Bay. We see remarkable creations in Large-Format motion pictures (IMAX 3D), interesting personal explorations on stereo 3D sites on the web, scientific (and medical) applications of 3D imaging, the newly emerging '3D computer gaming', and a number of creations that defy categories.

Most of the discussions about '3D quality' are about 'technique', image resolution, separation, convergence, whether it is 'pseudo' (scopic), and provoke questions like 'how did you do it?'. Just try raising the topics of 'art' in the hobby world and what you get is a lot of 'barking' (by the Photo 3D list 'mentors') concerning what constitutes 'proper 3D etiquette' of expression. Hobbyists who don't really make a living with 3D art will nevertheless have a lot of 'opinions' about what 'art' is. 'The 1/30th rule is not an aesthetic' I once wrote to no avail.

(See also Alice in the Land of the E*Moti*Cons
for some selections of Photo 3D (P3D) list discussions on the topics of 'art', 'etiquette', and the hubris of pontificating amateur sages.)

A Matter of Intent

3D Video is a motion-picture version of 3D photography. Certainly, 'good stereo technique' is important, especially if the audience is to be spared misregistered, poorly shot subject matter, improper lens (eye) separation, or a number of defects that produce eyestrain or inability to fuse the left and right eye components into a single stereo image. But 'proper technique' never guaranteed aesthetic (or even entertaining) subject matter. If it did, a instructional dental assistant training 3D video featuring 'good stereoscopic technique' might suffice for those who can't (or don't care to) differentiate getween a technical and aesthetic interpretation and intent.

So I will simply put it forward: '3D Video Art' is a aesthetic exploration of the possibilities of stereoscopic 3D expression in motion-picture formats, without the enforced restrictions of what constitutes (a previously endorsed) 'proper' form, content, and style. In other words, it's ground-breaking, innovative, impolite, and challenging (to the viewer, critic) in terms of what '3D motion-pictures can be' and in ways that are not market-driven or even 'common sense' at the time.

A Matter of Freedom

As in most 'illegitimate' (by acceptable high-art museum curating standards) medias, joining the other 'illegimates' of photography, film, 3D interactive web art, music, poetry, dance, theater, 3D video art will begin in the 'post-modern' orphanage.

The 3D video artists will be found in performance, installation, inter-media galleries, exhibiting content to a mystified audience. As with holographic art in the 70's, the audience's first impression of the medium is also its first aesthetic encounter. Good and bad works will abound, tied to one another by a sense of adventure and freedom.

There are already numerous works, accessible by search engines of the web, that celebrate the many forms of this emerging medium.

Some final thoughts from 'da Old Skool':

"To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risks....This world of the imagination is fancy-free and violently opposed to common sense."
-- Adolph Gottlieb and Marcus Rothko - (1943 New York Times).

For some examples of how the 'subject of art' gets abused in the on-line list chats,
visit 'Alice in the Land of P3D E*Moti*Cons'.

For recent essay by Al Razutis on projections, 3D and alchemy
visit 'Projecting - Alchemy'.