hello Reiner, Chris and list
The web is a part of the net, not the other way around. The web came
into being around 1994, the internet in... help me anyone!
1980something. It was then called 'the shiny shopping mall of the net'
because its visuals looked so much more like tv then the text
environments of the early net did. The net is basically an 'empty'
structure of loads of computers linked to eachother which can be used
via all kinds of software (code) to do all sorts of things. Doing email,
chatting, exchanging files (from sound and visuals to text) and all
kinds of search methods... go to a real techie/nerd to show you
everything. It's fascinating. There is an entire world behind the
browser, which is one of the reasons the Browser Day was initiated for
My definition of net art is different yes, but not that much different.
The only difference with my definition is that I include art works which
relate to the net (or net culture) without actually using its technology
visibly as well. The most common definition is that it is art which is
'net specific', which then usually means it cannot exist beyond the
technological boundaries of the internet. Because of some works by
Alexei Shulgin and Heath Bunting (and I am sure there are others too,
but these I know profoundly) which reached beyond this I have come to my
definition though. It would also be very limiting for the hybrid art of
today to bring in another artificial boundary (some like to call net art
a new 'discipline', which I find horrible! a new development does not
mean a new discipline.) based on tech/material alone. That does not do
justice to this art.
"Is mail art net art?" There have been a few pre histories of net art in
which mail art is one forerunner of net art. In my point of view these
pre histories were written most of all to show that what is generally
considered art history seems to place too much emphasis on art objects
(paintings, sculptures) instead of other influential art practices in
the 20th century.
"Are knitting or embroidery code art?" There have been cases of
'cyberknitting', though these have mostly been people performing all
kinds of ritualistic (?) fiddling with wires in those cheerful days of
netdotart. Maybe knitting is a forerunner of code art ;) ?
"Isn't all art about codes and/or networks?" Yes, but the new media
environment (with what Graham Harwood calls 'more people producing
meaningful content') and its global political and economical structures
(computer networks have not just changed the interactions between us
simple folk, but also between governments, banks, armies, mafia etc.)
are the new cultural arena. We can't keep turning a blind eye there.
"So within this context, I would say (feel free to contradict!) that we
have moved from artist-led activity, and artists as curators in the
developmental stage to a relatively professionalised infrastructure
emerging now, where museums and institutions feel more confident about
getting to grips with the technologies and artistic concerns in the
field (....) the art world is now equivalent to artist led initiatives
in other media."
That last point is very important. It is what I was refering to when I
mentioned I wanted to talk about responsibility. Joining the media
environment (which everyone does when posting on a public list or
creating a website) means you enter an existing discourse, an existing
culture. In an environment which is still developing, legally,
technically, socially, this can have a lot of consequences. Think of the
.museum story as highlighted by Jon Ippolito.
"The art world is a ghetto in the larger field of popular culture. Net
art has some things in common with the art world and with certain
sub-cultures within broader popular culture. Like other
technologically-determined forms I guess: sound art and video art spring
to mind. Is this a problem? Not necessarily."
Depends how you look at it. Video art and sound art do not have as many
different forms of appearance as net art does. I sometimes call net art
the merging of media art and more traditional art. Finally the two merge
almost by default, through a media space which is used by 'everyone'.
Yet the connection which also happens there with other cultures (design,
activism, popular culture, folklore even) makes that in the end we see
something that is more then just media art and more traditional art
combined. Should we not adress such a big cultural phenomenon (as it
also affects art) as art critics? We miss an opportunity to analyse the
situation well and act to it if we keep the two seperate.
highest regards again,