Net art and the Artists

Net art and the Artists

Net art and the Artists

Net art, also known as internet art, is an art movement from the 1990s, but which gained prominence in early 2000s. The name net art was adopted in 1995, and this led to an influx of net artists into the space (Kerr). The primary medium for showcasing art is the internet, which circumvents the traditional art that utilizes galleries, museums, and other forms of display. Net art focuses on interactive and interconnected experiences for the viewers. The creation of the art relies of internet enabled devices and programs such as developer codes, scripts, and other tools which lead to the creation of unique forms of art.  Pioneers of the net art movement include Vuk Cosic, who utilized the internet resources to interpret artworks through his personal software. He interpreted art pieces through the conversion of pixels and transformation into American Standard Code for Information Interchange. His notable pieces include the Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol’s (Martinez). Other pioneers of the net art movement include mysterious jodi.org, which comprised of duo artists, Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans. The two artists led to the disruption of the art world through the disassembling software, video games and other software programs. They were infamous for their disruptive habits in the internet, leading to new technological establishment and revolutionary art (Archey par 1). Thus, the revolution of art through the internet has led artists into a democratic space which in turn enhanced their expressive capacity that attracts a massive audience.

Net artists played an important role in enhancing accessibility of art through the interpretation of street and installation art. The art movement was part of an online sharing forum where artists exchanged ideas and art. Some of artists include, Yael Kanarek, Jodi duo, Alexei Shulgin, Olia Lialina, and Young-Hae Chang (Martinez). Their goal in the net art movement was closing the gap that existed between art and real life. The movement sought to maintain independence from art institutions and thus the net art movement operated without financial compensation. For example, the transformation of Adaweb to ICA led to the expansion in digital medium and its use in art (Weil). Thus, the net art movement was an exciting moment for the artists who sought to establish a new form of artistic expression without material interest.

The emergence of the internet led to revolutionary changes in communication networks all over the world, and this contributed to artistic innovations and experimentation. Technology was integral in redefining art and addressing conventional issues in the society. The net art movement brought about blurred boundaries in the sense that art was used to communicate political messages as well as other social, political and ethical issues in the society. For example, the net art movement, through the artists Marc Lafia and Fang-Yu Lin, reenacted the Battle of Algiers through a cell based structure which represents the French forces and the Algerian nationalist forces. Technology and the internet give the audience the idea of concentration of forces during the war (Deck). The net art was a diversion from mainstream art whereby it opened up art to new realms.

Net Art, Approaches and Impact on Modern Art

Net art runs on technology; enhanced innovations have changed the face of art in the contemporary world.  Each net artist adopts different methods into artistic expressions. Vuk Cosic invented the use of American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), a system that adopts a special coding scheme which translates letters and number characters into binary. The technique necessitated the sharing and viewing of photos in most digital browsing. Vuk’s translation of binary into images is associated to the internet pornography as illustrated in the film, Deep Throat, which was translated through the ASCII (Kerr). The coding technique slowly became outdated given the technological innovations, and this explains the different options adopted by other net artists.

Moreover, the net artists were focused on exploring the unique power of the internet. Yael Kanarek utilized 3D models and landscapes, which produced desktop interfaces for each entry. A notable work was the World of Awe which was comprised of a fictional diary. The artwork possessed futuristic touches illustrated in the layered links and multiple pages and sound tracked landscapes. The 1990s were influential in the formation of art; for example, during this time, Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmanscreated the famous jodi.org (Archey). The jodi.org comprised of nonsensical numbers, symbols, and letters which were set in a black background. The webpage revealed different artworks that were accessed through a set of hidden instructions (Kerr). In essence, most artworks were created through a series of coded alphanumeric language. The presentation of art in this form was intriguing to the various audiences across the world. 

One of the common approaches was the mathematical and process based techniques, which were similar to the suprematism movement of the 20th century. The method utilizes pure geometry to attain pictorial representations of black and white squares. John Simon junior utilized this approach while creating the artwork, Every Icon, and this led to the creation of countless versions of the artwork (Kerr par 7). The mathematical approach utilized technology to formulate different computations, which were unique to the piece of artwork.

The introduction of internet into art brought about positive and negative impacts on artwork. The use of computers led to the unique computer errors and pragmatism, which gave birth to the hacker culture. The hacker culture is characterized by code tricks, faux code, and viruses which affect the browsing experience. Art has been used to revolutionize the web culture and experience for art audiences and artists. For example, the 0100101110101101.org was active in the hack culture and the group performed in several code interventions. As such, the digital environment has played a significant role in influencing the aesthetic use of computers in the creation of art.

Net art has introduced new perspectives to modern art, which are useful in the sale and promotion of artists and their artworks. The internet has led to the creation of online galleries where each art piece is protected in terms of originality through specified URL. Thus, the internet is a protection mechanism against forgery and reproduction of fake art. Olia Lialina of the 0100101110101101.org designed webpage to control the access (Martinez). In essence, net art has gained prominence in the modern world as illustrated in the economic identity and legitimization of art.

The internet enabled the production of net art, which is instrumental in documenting and preserving modern art. The contemporary art world is characterized by museum and art galleries which store large amounts of digital data. Modern technologies apply different medium and techniques to show case art. The modern day transformation of art is evident in the constant updates of obsolete material. The internet is a new revolution to art and it introduces new content and new mechanisms of controlling access. Thus, net art has led to the advancement of modern art in different aspects.

Net art movement began in the 1990s and it has transformed the art world. The concept replaced the traditional platforms of showcasing art, such as museums and galleries, with web pages, URL, and other technology tools. There are different pioneer artists who came up with different approaches to promote net art. For example, the ASCII, 3D modeling, mathematical processes have been used over years to present different art pieces. The modern art world is transformed by the internet and digital space, which has enhanced the preservation of art.

Works Cited

Archey, Karen. “JODI: Street Digital.” Rhizome, 2012. http://rhizome.org/editorial/2012/apr/23/jodi-street-digital/Deck, Andy. “Whitney Artport: Commissions.” Artport | Whitney Museum of American Art, 2006, artport.whitney.org/commissions/index.shtml.

Kerr, Dylan. “The Early Disruptors: 7 Masterpieces of ’90s Net Art Everyone Should Know About.” Artspace, 27 Mar. 2015. https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/art-tech/90s-net-art-52704.

Martinez, Ricardo. “Net Art – The Movement and The Impact.” Widewalls, 2015, www.widewalls.ch/net-art-movement/.

Weil, Benjamin. “Rhizome: From Adaweb to the ICA.” Rhizome, 1998, http://rhizome.org/community/41209/


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