Sunday, April 15, 2007

Q&A George Fifield

"The church of art is very conservative," according to George Fifield, the founder and director of the Boston Cyberarts Festival, the showcase for computer-related art that opens its fifth season on Friday (see As for the Boston scene, Fifield, when I visited him at his Jamaica Plain home, summed it up thus: "Even now, you don't find digital art in the MFA."

Despite the city's prevailing high-art tastes, Fifield launched the festival here in 1999 because, he says, he had discovered another side to Boston, a "radical hidden history of artists coming here to work on new technology." Fifield is inspired, for example, by the close collaboration between the photographer Ansel Adams and Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid Corporation. Starting in 1948, Adams helped Land perfect the technology for instant photography, and, through his own much-admired Polaroid photographs, enabled Land, Fifield told me, "to make the case that the camera was a tool for art, as opposed to just a toy."