Art in Cyberspace

Cover Story
The Freeman's Thank God It's Friday (TGIF) Magazine
August 4, 1995


It was kind of disorienting for me to relate an artist’s painstaking task of coloring his canvass accordingly to how he views life or a particular slice of it --- to a digitized version. That the Cebu Artists Inc. has ‘‘invaded’’ cyberspace is no ordinary achievement. And yet the senses immediately provide conflicting reactions especially if one were to take art strictly within its realm.

Modern technology will always have the cold touch against the burning sensation of a live piece of art. Modern technology will always be machine- dependent and impersonal against the humanness reflected in the tangible work of an artist.

CAI’s entrance into cyberspace may be deemed as a revolution of a kind and a source of great pride especially to Cebuano artists. And that the group is well into its second year of existence today, Aug. 4, 1995, may even call for a well-timed celebration. Yet I maintained my distance, along with my reservations, about the whole triumph, taking a conservative stand and insisting on warmth, pain and a ‘‘live’’ response to a medium. But there seems to be no stopping this ‘‘marriage of art and technology’’ which has won critical approval from Asiaweek. CAI’s open attitude about launching the Philippine’s first art gallery in cyberspace is regarded as a happy harvest by its members. For indeed CAI has produced an ‘‘elegant electronic museum’’.

Biases surfaced. Is it ever possible to ‘‘program’’ feelings accordingly to the science of communication and control? Aren’t we reducing the very pleasure of travelling to the museum to relate to the different paintings exhibited?

For CAI has succeeded in ‘‘simplifying’’ travel through an online art gallery. But is it for the good --- really?

In a group interview with some of the CAI members, they were one in stating that their ‘‘surfing the web’’ specifically links Cebu art to the world.

Dong Secuya stands to represent both as an artist and as a programmer and analyst. In fact, he was the one who went through all the tedious maze of Internet’s being made available to the CAI group. As resident webmaster of the Cebu Artists Inc., he had approached the endeavor of launching the country’s ‘‘first full-fledged online art gallery’’ as a total expression of the artist in him. Now, CAI is into Worldwide Web (WWW) and is beginning to attract global attention not only for Cebuano artists in particular but for Philippine art in Cebu in general.

‘‘A battery of events is scheduled for the next six months,’’ Secuya disclosed, emphasizing that the CAI Art Gallery on the Internet is not solely a painting exhibit but practically embraces visual arts, like sculpture and photography. Neither is it to be miscontrued that CAI intends to ‘‘monopolize’’ the good fate.

In itself, the opening of Cebu Artists Inc.’s WWW site hopes to showcase works of respected Cebuano artists not necessarily CAI members. However, it is understandable that present programs of events have different CAI members exhibiting their works. The great feat may be seen as CAI’s well-acclaimed creation of the first Philippine art gallery on WWW. Through this technological innovation, Cebu artistry and its cultural heritage stand to gain global interest and appreciation.

‘‘As to the question of ‘reducing’ the artistic value of an exhibited work, there is no worry there because the value is well preserved within the art,’’ justified CAI. In effect, it is similar to scanning a catalogue where ‘‘products’’ may be viewed by prospective patrons or by anyone just interested in visual experience.

The artists belonging to Cebu Artists Inc., which was formed only last year, still hold on to their belief that ‘‘Cebu is rich in schools and trends of artistic tradition.’’ Contrary to claims that art is dead in Cebu, CAI moves on with its cry that the presence of the countless artists and art groups is in itself a good evidence that Cebu art is very much alive and flourishing. Needless to say, this is an idea one readily welcomes.

There are seventeen of them in the current batch. Two artists will be welcomed to join the circle this year. This has been one of the points emphasized by CAI, to keep its members in modest number. Artists are added into the group every year --- by invitation. In its quest to make the circle manageable, CAI has seemingly achieved focus. It is like a home where everything is shared --- from the heat of the fire on a cold rainy night . . . to the breeze that passes through freely. Because, if ever, CAI emphasizes freedom along with commitment. It understands the basic needs of a painter being foremost a man with mouths to feed and ambitions to forge. The door leading to the circle is always open to the members. They come and go as they please, leaving behind a great part of themselves. Their art. And because of this open-minded and stout-hearted attitude, CAI experiences a symbolic growth as the group demonstrates the true meaning of ‘‘freedom of expression’’.

Celso Duazo Pepito is current president and has an impressive string of sixty exhibitions to his name, five of which were done solo. And while Pepito’s leaning is towards Impressionism and Cubism, member Paulina Constancia, who is also into sculpture, displays a lively manner through vibrant colors.

More members include:

Luxembourg national Emile Bartz whose ‘‘evolution as an artist’’ speaks well of CAI objectives; Studio-oriented, freedom-loving W.R. Cuevas whose tasteful abstract expressions are gift of wings in themselves; The young intense Adeste Deguilmo who believes that the ‘‘expression of the human soul can be felt through its physical form’’;

Benji Goyha whose beautiful relationship with nature is clearly reflected on his canvasses of landscapes and seascapes; Zonia Hidalgo, who traverses from corporate life to a deeply artistic state of being; Jun Impas, the youngest, who is much exposed to the local art trends, thus winning him an easy ‘‘access’’ to contemporary expression; ‘‘Plein Air’’ artist Alan Lee whose dedication to light is reflected in his ability to capture its fleeting moments; Highly expressive Edgar Mojares ---whose works personally never fail to touch me --- freely and fearlessly responds to trends yet maintaining a signature distinctly his own; Fe Madrid, whose personal identity is carried through the domestic themes she tackles;

Manuel Paņares, whose fascination on the vanishing tribes of Southern Philippines has forged a commitment; An easy reminder that ‘‘art is not and cannot be confined to established canons of beauty’’, J. Karl Roque, Jr.’s works are statements directed to society; Jose Villadolid, whose communion with the earth easily separates him from the rest; Culturally-inclined Sonia Yrastorza whose antique business and painting have given her the strength to relate to the world as an artist;

And Dong Secuya.

To be welcomed by CAI as two of its newest members are ace photographer Tonee Despojo of The Freeman and Meowix Flores.

The myriad elements seem to resemble the many colors opened to all hands and eyes. Cebu Artists Inc. is a circle of moods, as it runs around in playful abandon, yet profound at any given moment.

CAI is quite vocal in its faith for the Cebuanos’ capacity as artists, pointing out even that the reason why Manila has seemingly dominated the art scene is simply because it serves as a melting pot and a refuge for artists of different regions.

It is CAI’s aim to continue its quest for oneness with the people and sectors that provide them the ‘‘opportunity to grow, explore and delve into the nuances of the essence of their art.’’

CAI turns one year old today. While it has only chalked a single mark in the calendar of time, the group has behaved considerably ‘‘grown-up’’ as it approaches its second year of artistic challenge.

It has taken a cosmic leap, so to speak, through its online art gallery.

It is the dictates of the time that has succeeded the group to marry art with tech-nology.

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