I just read an article in my local paper about an artist who is using a CNC machine to carve his art. I was surprised that my first thought was ‘cheat’.

How is this a cheat? I use tools to paint (brushes). I buy my canvases. I don’t crush and mix my own paint. There is something to be said for using a chisel and hammer on wood but maybe making my own brushes would affect my painting. Vermeer likely used some sort of Camera Lucida so who am I to judge.

It’s interesting how we define ‘art’. During the Renaissance artists would spend years apprenticing and learning the trade. This has likely been the case for most of human history. Perhaps someday we will be able to separate the creative from the tools we use to create. It shouldn’t matter whether we are using a computer, paint, wood or cement, the art is still a creative additive process. It seems to me that in some ways technology is freeing us to create as we wish; it is separating the creative process from the building/making process. Back to the case of the carver. Would it be better if he made his own tools in a blacksmith shop? Or better yet used various sharpened animal bones to do his carving? I don’t think so. The process used to make the material match the idea is immaterial.