Art, properly defined, is anything which conveys beauty. Under this definition, practically anything can be art, because art is only a tool for portraying beauty to a human eye. But do not think that this gives any sort of subjectivity to the matter of art. On the contrary, since art has a distinct goal, every piece of art, any medium, can be judged on how well it reaches that goal. Abstract art, for example, generally does a horrible job in portraying beauty in any way, and thus is a horrible form of art. Back to the matter at hand: is digital art per se art? I think that the question is rigged. Yes, digital art is art, just as much as abstract art is art, but is it good art? In other words, does digital art portray beauty? I say that yes, much of digital art does portray beauty. One may look to Owen's website for proof of that (although it's pretty out-dated), as well as many other digital artists' portfolios. Art isn't a binary thing though. Each artistic medium and style has its own way of attempting to portray beauty, and they all achieve success to varying degrees. A quarter and a one hundred dollar bill are both money, but they both have different value. So too with art. A digital painting, so matter how hard it tries, can never imitate the accidents of material which give traditional art so much of its charm. Just like how reality has its flaws, and events are shaped by those flaws, so too will traditional art have accidents of the materials which have an impact on the development of the piece. Digital art can't have accidents of the material: it's controled; static. Another aspect of art is overcoming limitations. One of the reasons traditional art is so beautiful is beacuse the skill ceiling and floor are so low that to see somebody shatter them is almost beautiful in and of itself. Compare that to digital art, which has a much high skill ceiling, and a somewhat higher skill floor (I personally can draw much better digitally than I can traditionally), and so it's much more difficult to separate yourself from the croud. In addition, in traditional art, an artist can creatively break those boundaries forced on him by reality; in digital art, it's merely a matter of figuring out which setting you have to tweak to get the desired outcome. In conclusion, is digital art per se art? By defitition, yes, it has the ability to portray beauty. But is digital art good as art? I would say yes, much of it is, but it is not as advanced on the art spectrum as, say, fresco painting.
Banner image and side image property of Owen Cyplops