Internet art

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"Simple Net Art Diagram", a 1997 work by Michael Sarff and Tim Whidden Simple Net Art Diagram.svg
"Simple Net Art Diagram", a 1997 work by Michael Sarff and Tim Whidden

Internet art (also known as net art) is a form of new media art distributed via the Internet. This form of art circumvents the traditional dominance of the physical gallery and museum system. In many cases, the viewer is drawn into some kind of interaction with the work of art. Artists working in this manner are sometimes referred to as net artists.


Net artists may use specific social or cultural internet traditions to produce their art outside of the technical structure of the internet. Internet art is often — but not always — interactive, participatory, and multimedia-based. Internet art can be used to spread a message, either political or social, using human interactions.

The term Internet art typically does not refer to art that has been simply digitized and uploaded to be viewable over the Internet, such as in an online gallery. [1] Rather, this genre relies intrinsically on the Internet to exist as a whole, taking advantage of such aspects as an interactive interface and connectivity to multiple social and economic cultures and micro-cultures, not only web-based works.

New media theorist and curator Jon Ippolito defined "Ten Myths of Internet Art" in 2002. [1] He cites the above stipulations, as well as defining it as distinct from commercial web design, and touching on issues of permanence, archivability, and collecting in a fluid medium.

History and context

Internet art is rooted in disparate artistic traditions and movements, ranging from Dada to Situationism, conceptual art, Fluxus, video art, kinetic art, performance art, telematic art and happenings. [2]

In 1974, Canadian artist Vera Frenkel worked with the Bell Canada Teleconferencing Studios to produce the work String Games: Improvisations for Inter-City Video, the first artwork in Canada to use telecommunications technologies. [3]

An early telematic artwork was Roy Ascott's work, La Plissure du Texte, [4] performed in collaboration created for an exhibition at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1983.

In 1985, Eduardo Kac created the animated videotex poem Reabracadabra for the Minitel system. [5]

Media art institutions such as Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, or the Paris-based IRCAM (a research center for electronic music), would also support or present early networked art. In 1996, Helen Thorington founded, an online platform for commissioning and exhibiting net art, and hosting multi location networked performances. in 1991 Wolfgang Staehle founded the important experimental platform such as The Thing. in 1994 entrepreneur John Borthwick and curator Benjamin Weil produced artworks online by Doug Aitken, Jenny Holzer and others on Adaweb and In 1997 MIT's List Visual Arts Center hosted "PORT: Navigating Digital Culture," which included internet art in a gallery space and "time-based Internet projects." [6] Artists in the show included Cary Peppermint, Prema Murthy, Ricardo Dominguez, Helen Thorington, and Adrianne Wortzel.

Also in 1997 internet art was exhibited at documenta X (directed by Catherine David), with curator Simon Lamunière. The 10 projects presented simultaneously in Kassel and online were those of Matt Mullican, Antoni Muntadas, Holger Friese, Heath Bunting, Felix Stefan Huber & Philip Pocock, Herve Graumann, Jodi, Martin Kippenberger and Carsten Höller among others.

In 2000 the Whitney Museum of American Art included net art in their Biennial exhibit. [7] It was the first time that internet art had been included as a special category in the Biennial, and it marked one of the earliest examples of the inclusion of internet art in a museum setting. Internet artists included Mark Amerika, Fakeshop, Ken Goldberg, etoy and ®™ark.

With the rise of search engines as a gateway to accessing the web in the late 1990s, many net artists turned their attention to related themes. The 2001 'Data Dynamics' exhibit at the Whitney Museum featured 'Netomat' (Maciej Wisniewski) and 'Apartment' - a commission - (Marek Walczak and Martin Wattenberg), which used search queries as raw material. Mary Flanagan's ' The Perpetual Bed' received attention for its use of 3D nonlinear narrative space, or what she called "navigable narratives." [8] [9] Her 2001 piece titled 'Collection' shown in the Whitney Biennial displayed items amassed from hard drives around the world in a computational collective unconscious.' [10] Golan Levin's 'The Secret Lives of Numbers' (2000) - also a commission - visualized the "popularity" of the numbers 1 to 1,000,000 as measured by Alta Vista search results. Such works pointed to alternative interfaces and questioned the dominant role of search engines in controlling access to the net.

Nevertheless, the Internet is not reducible to the web, nor to search engines. Besides these unicast (point to point) applications,suggesting the existence of reference points, there is also a multicast (multipoint and uncentered) internet that has been explored by very few artistic experiences, such as the Poietic Generator. Internet art has, according to Juliff and Cox, suffered under the privileging of the user interface inherent within computer art. They argue that Internet is not synonymous with a specific user and specific interface, but rather a dynamic structure that encompasses coding and the artist's intention. [11]

At the same period, original attempts to establish a physical relation between what happened on the web and what would be exhibited in museums were developed by MUDAM Musée d’Art Contemporain du Luxembourg and most of all by MIXM. At the time, and before platforms like Second Life where Cao Fei developed her RMB City, contemporary artists like Peter Kogler, Heimo Zobernig, Nedko Solakov or Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner realized works online that could be seen in art museums specifically as installations and not just on a computer screen showing internet art. In Solakov’s work for example, one could interact online with objects that were in the exhibition space of the Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève. In Heimo Zobernig’s work, one could physically move a wall to reveal a space in the MAMCO containing a 3d online rendering of the same space.

The emergence of social networking platforms in the mid-2000s facilitated a transformative shift in the distribution of internet art. Early online communities were organized around specific "topical hierarchies", [12] whereas social networking platforms consist of egocentric networks, with the "individual at the center of their own community". [12] Artistic communities on the Internet underwent a similar transition in the mid-2000s, shifting from Surf Clubs, "15 to 30 person groups whose members contributed to an ongoing visual-conceptual conversation through the use of digital media" [13] and whose membership was restricted to a select group of individuals, to image-based social networking platforms, like Flickr, which permit access to any individual with an e-mail address. Internet artists make extensive use of the networked capabilities of social networking platforms, and are rhizomatic in their organization, in that "production of meaning is externally contingent on a network of other artists' content". [13]


Post-Internet movements are responsible for Internet-centric microgenres and subcultures such as vaporwave "Evolution" and life in vaporwave flavours. (48475685782).png
Post-Internet movements are responsible for Internet-centric microgenres and subcultures such as vaporwave

Post-Internet is a loose descriptor [14] for works of art that are derived from the Internet as well as the internet's effects on aesthetics, culture and society. [15] It is a broad term with many associations and has been heavily criticized. [14]

The term emerged during the mid-2000s and was coined by Internet artist Marisa Olson in 2008. [16] Discussions about Internet art by Marisa Olson, Gene McHugh, and Artie Vierkant (the latter notable for his Image Objects, a series of deep blue monochrome prints) brought the term to a mainstream consciousness. [17] Between the 2000s and 2010s, post-Internet artists were largely the domain of millennials operating on web platforms such as Tumblr and MySpace or working in social media video and post-narrative formats such as YouTube, Vevo, or memes.

According to a 2015 article in The New Yorker , the term describes "the practices of artists who ... unlike those of previous generations, [employ] the Web [as] just another medium, like painting or sculpture. Their artworks move fluidly between spaces, appearing sometimes on a screen, other times in a gallery." [18] In the early 2010s, post-Internet was popularly associated with the musician Grimes, visual artists like Cory Arcangel, Artie Vierkant, Petra Cortrght, Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, and Kalup Linzy, and social practice dissensus collectives like DIS and K-HOLE. [19] The movement catapulted a number of hybrid microgenres and subcultures such as bloghouse, bro dubstep, seapunk, electroclash, and vaporwave. [14]


Art historian Rachel Greene identified six forms of internet art that existed from 1993 to 1996: email, audio, video, graphics, animation and websites. [20] These mailing lists allowed for organization which was carried over to face-to-face meetings that facilitated more nuanced conversations, less burdened from miscommunication.

Since the mid-2000s, many artists have used Google's search engine and other services for inspiration and materials. New Google services breed new artistic possibilities. [21] Beginning in 2008, Jon Rafman collected images from Google Street View for his project called The Nine Eyes of Google Street View. [22] [21] Another ongoing net art project is I'm Google by Dina Kelberman which organizes pictures and videos from Google and YouTube around a theme in a grid form that expands as you scroll. [21]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Interactive art is a form of art that involves the spectator in a way that allows the art to achieve its purpose. Some interactive art installations achieve this by letting the observer walk through, over or around them; others ask the artist or the spectators to become part of the artwork in some way.

Postdigital, in artistic practice, is an attitude that is more concerned with being human, than with being digital, similar to the concept of "undigital" introduced in 1995, where technology and society advances beyond digital limitations to achieve a totally fluid multimediated reality that is free from artefacts of digital computation.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jodi (art collective)</span>

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Cybernetic art is contemporary art that builds upon the legacy of cybernetics, where feedback involved in the work takes precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. The relationship between cybernetics and art can be summarised in three ways: cybernetics can be used to study art, to create works of art or may itself be regarded as an art form in its own right.

Media art history is an interdisciplinary field of research that explores the current developments as well as the history and genealogy of new media art, digital art, and electronic art. On the one hand, media art histories addresses the contemporary interplay of art, technology, and science. On the other, it aims to reveal the historical relationships and aspects of the ‘afterlife’ in new media art by means of a historical comparative approach. This strand of research encompasses questions of the history of media and perception, of so-called archetypes, as well as those of iconography and the history of ideas. Moreover, one of the main agendas of media art histories is to point out the role of digital technologies for contemporary, post-industrial societies and to counteract the marginalization of according art practices and art objects: ″Digital technology has fundamentally changed the way art is made. Over the last forty years, media art has become a significant part of our networked information society. Although there are well-attended international festivals, collaborative research projects, exhibitions and database documentation resources, media art research is still marginal in universities, museums and archives. It remains largely under-resourced in our core cultural institutions.″


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