There's something terrifying and terrific about a work of art that asks viewers to inventory their capabilities before allowing itself to be viewed. The creators of jodi.org and turbulence.org warn their viewers to have the right technological creds or risk a... [more]
There's something terrifying and terrific about a work of art that asks viewers to inventory their capabilities before allowing itself to be viewed. The creators of jodi.org and turbulence.org warn their viewers to have the right technological creds or risk a computer crash. If only artists in other media could force viewers to submit to a preliminary interview: Is your mind open enough to view this dung-smeared painting of the Madonna? Have you ever blurted out that your kid could paint better than Pollock? If so, you can't view this art.
Net artists draw from every pre-existing medium: literature, photography, video, film, and music. They meld all of these ingredients together to create a sort of ambulatory collage. However, unlike other art forms, Net art doesn't require a huge budget. Nor does it need museums or the gallery system. Just as a couple kids went into the woods with a video camera and returned with the flick, "The Blair Witch Project," so too can anyone with the computer basics create an artwork that millions of people could potentially view each day. At last, here is the democracy promised by Internet developers and the stockholders who love them.
The quick assumption would be that this art exists on the fringe, like hackers and guerilla theater. Nothing could be further from the truth. Annette Weintraub's "Sampling Broadway" was included in the prestigious Whitney Biennial. And the National Endowment for the Arts has funded many emerging artists in the medium.
Upon entering Net art sites, visitors travel over matrices and choose portals to enter. These might lead to other sites, digital images, or music that explodes from the speakers. On one site, photographs are interspersed with text that interrogates viewers about their lives.
Net art interacts with viewers' desires - by either accommodating them or frustrating them. Lynn Hershman lets participants select how narratives should proceed, while jogi.org scrambles the screen in constantly evolving ways. It is an art form very much of its age, existing at the intersection of fine art, technology, personal space, and corporate culture. And like every manifestation of Postmodernism, it is always aware of itself.