Is 3D Rendering an Art?

Essentially, 3D modeling is a mathematical code that is visualized for human consumption through renders on a digital screen. A quick Google search of 3D modeling makes apparent that 3D modeling is assumed to be an art form, with 3D modelers referred to as artists. Reading through various definitions, some consider 3D modeling to be an industrial art, technical art, creative geometry, software, and a representation of an object in digital space. Without diving head-on into a purely philosophical discussion about art, the hope is to explore the question “is 3D modeling art.” There are no definite answers. We might draw on pragmatic answers, such as whether institutions like art galleries would consider 3D modeling exhibitions. We might also compare traditional art processes and 3D modeling. One tool used by 3D modelers is a Z brush on a pad similar to a sculpting tool. There seems to be something more to point to in the content. We would not want to suggest that any sculpture or 3D model is art, because this would mean that commercial using 3D models and sculpted garden statues would be art. There is something to art that must set it apart from capitalism. This is not to suggest some romantic notion that art is somehow free from capitalism. Western culture has a long history of selling art. Some art historians argue that contemporary art has emerged through the sale of art as a collectable product.

Perhaps looking at the content might provide useful. This is not to say that art does not also take skill. Some exhibiting artists are exploring video games as art. Certainly there is no limit on the materials and methods that can be used to create art. However, the difference is that artists who have explored video games as art also communicate a political stance. Does the content perhaps make a difference? Art is notoriously about ideas and communicates to its audience. Often art is deeply political. There are of course many artists who make art objects purely to sell, and arguably these artists would be walking the line of kitsch art. Art is often political and all art has deeply political histories. This article does not even touch into the exclusions that the world of contemporary art has made through gender, race, and culture.

In conclusion, there seems to be a difference in use of the word artist. There are 3D modeling artists who posses skill in their work, but would not be considered artists in the sense of this more difficult to define area of art with a capital A.

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