Introduction to the Interaction

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The evolution of art in the past twenty years has seen the merging of computer networks and the Internet with creative ideas from other artistic media. Art that used to be displayed through media such as painting, sculpture, video and sound are now seen through a new interactive avenue on Web sites, social networks and other Web 2.0 tools. In the 21st century many Web sites have become cultural phenomena. The creation of Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter and numerous other applications has lead to new venues for artists to create and share work. Art on the Internet and art made within the Internet has many direct links to these new Web sites. The concepts of these Web sites are based off of ideas of networking, interacting, participating and communication between one another. These ideas created a new format for art and artists. All of this can be seen in where art and the World Wide Web first interacted.

Web sites like Facebook and Myspace are social networks where groups of people can converge to share ideas and communicate between one another. Twitter and other messaging tools provide instantaneous communication among friends, professionals and strangers. While these tools can be used for completely commercial reasons, there are also underlying characteristics for them that make them act as springboards for artists and their works. Interactive art and participatory art have existed for some time prior to the creation of the Internet. Yoko Ono performed participatory art prior to the invention of the Internet. In 1964 and 1965 Ono performed her “Cut Piece” where she invited audience members to approach her and cut away pieces of her clothing in the name of peace. In this artwork she allowed the viewer to become a full participant in the work and barely interfaced with them besides inviting them onto the stage. Her body and the scissors were the only tools for the interaction. What the Web provided for artists was another tool to convey their work. The ability to interact with a piece of artwork can be seen through various means. In Digital Art History, Michael Hammel writes “If you don’t touch interactive art you won’t have any experience in it” (Bentkowska-Kafel 57). While this is true for both net art and other artistic media, in art based on the Web the viewer becomes a tactile user connected to the interface and the visual environment that the Web artist creates (Bentkowska-Kafel 60). This can be seen through either prompts that the artist provides the viewer before they interact with the art or through the parameters that the artist provides, which leads the viewer through the art.

The World Wide Web changed many of the basics rules of art and how some artists created their work. Stereotypically, artwork is seen as artifacts, something that should be observed and not touched. The Internet completely altered that view. In many ways, the Internet could be viewed as the new art gallery. The creation of the Internet provided a new avenue for artists to not only display their work but as a tool to create their work. It can be seen as the main platform for the production, distribution and exhibition of new art forms today (Bentkowska-Kafel 65).

Interactions, in both tactile and Web site simulations, can all vary. Artists can set parameters where the viewer is led through an art piece as the artist demands or with as much free will as the viewer desires. The work can be open-ended or intentional. According to Hammel, a viewer can experience interaction through several stages. The most minimal of which is reaction. When the user has minimal action required of them, they could be categorized as the reaction stage.  This could mean that the viewer is simply looking at an art piece and not physically interacting with it at all. The second stage is interaction. Interaction is the step where the viewer takes part in some action within the work. This can be seen through the parameters or prompts that the artist could provide for the viewer. The work is not truly open-ended, even though it may seem to be. The final stage of interaction is symbioaction. This stage creates an atmosphere for the viewer where they cannot differentiate between his or her own participation and the work of the computer or the predetermined code setup by the creator. In this last stage, the artist could have either created a work that is truly open-ended where the viewer’s interaction with the piece completely dictates the direction of the piece (Bentkowska-Kafel 60). These three explanations of interaction further shows how art can be both seen in and on the Internet. Sometimes art pieces are created by the tools of the Internet, through coding and the use of Web sites. The work exists because of the Internet, as if the Internet was like the paint for a painting or the clay for a sculpture. In other instances, an art piece can be seen on the Internet. In this situation, the work might have been made through other media but is being presented on the Internet. The Web provides a new avenue for the work to be viewed and consumed, but is not necessarily a medium for the piece. Whether a work is on or in the Internet also allows for the levels of interaction to differ and how the work is then consumed is changed as well. 

Douglas Davis’ World’s First Collaborative Sentence

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World's First Collaborative Sentence

In 1994 Douglas Davis created the first piece of artwork conceived for the World Wide Web. It was called the World’s First Collaborative Sentence. Davis was originally a video artist who would create work with the intention to demassify the media (Baumgartel 62). Davis was commissioned by the Lehman College Art Gallery to create the work, which he viewed as the world’s first collaborative sentence. The City University of New York City (CUNY) provided a server for Davis to host his work. The work was launched on December 7, 1994 as a canvas for viewers of Davis’ work to provide sentence segments to this never-ending fragment (The World’s First Collaborative Sentence). The art piece is interactive in the sense that viewers can come on to the Web site and add whatever he or she would like to the sentence. The only stipulation to the project is that a viewer cannot add a period to the end of his or her completed thought. Davis said that when he was commissioned to create this work he thought about the keyboard and how the Web had provided a new avenue for interaction that was separate from video or other artistic media (Baumgartel 60-62). Currently there are over 200,000 additions to the sentence, which as technology has spanned in the almost 15 years since its conception, now includes links and various other ingenious caricatures that viewers have used or developed to detour the no period rule. The sentence now features color text, embedded video, java and many other technological advancements. When the Web site was first launched in 1994, the sentence was simply black and white with the occasional use of capital letters. The aesthetics of the piece have changed drastically over time but the idea behind Davis’ art to create a sounding board and a place where people could express whatever they desired is still present. In 1995 the work was donated to the Whitney Museum of American Art where it still exists as an active art piece where users still support daily. Davis has said that he initially chose the Internet as his medium because he felt that the “Internet is the ultimate means of getting a really intense response from people” (Baumgartel 62). As the World’s First Collaborative Sentence continues to exist and could possibly exist until eternity it seems like the artist’s intention have panned out.

The world’s first art piece for the World Wide Web provided a springboard for future artworks that used interactivity and collaboration by aid of the Internet to exist. Many other artists, since 1994, have created work for and because of the Internet. With the advancement of technology, the idea of how art is viewed and consumed is different from fifty years ago. Artwork is not necessarily viewed as artifacts anymore, but rather as momentary imprints of pieces in a certain place and time. Art can change and the Internet progresses that.  


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JODIAnother artist duo that helped progress art on the Internet can be seen through JODI. JODI is the pseudonym for Dirk Paesmans and Joan Heemskerk who created work that did “everything wrong on the Internet that [could] be done wrong” (Baumgartel 167). They created work that would create chaotic atmospheres through Internet browsers. The work made it seem like the viewer was being infected with a computer virus. But rather JODI programmed their work to create dancing screens that made windows pop up and move wildly across the monitor. Their project was called OSS/****, a “vicious JavaScript,” which was created in mid-1999. JODI’s work has always centered on the systematic abuse of the Internet. They have been doing their work since 1995 and have included creating Web sites that would show error messages or pop ups that could scare and irritate common users. Their work on the Web was different from many other previous Internet artists because their art manipulated how people would view their browsers. It created an invasion of people’s personal space between them and their computers. It created a feeling that their computer was crashing and for some, the emotions attached to a catastrophe like that could be very disheartening. JODI stated that the reasoning behind their art was not to antagonize but rather to invoke some type of emotion within their viewer—in many ways like how other art does with a brush stroke or clay formation. Their interaction, though, differed from a brush stroke or clay formation because of its invasion of personal space and emotion. Paesmans states, “Everyone has something to do with computers nowadays. In this century, you must be very strong indeed not to have anything to do with them” (Baumgartel 172). JODI claimed that their intentions were not to make fun of computer and Internet users but rather to share the feelings of “blue panic” with the world. In many ways, people see this type of work, while not necessarily intended as art, every day. When their computer screen freezes or their Web page fails to load, panic ensues on their emotions. This type of art by JODI thrives to evoke these emotions as consumers continue to rely heavily on technology for their emotional and mental stability. 

Ken Goldberg’s Telegarden

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An issue that affects many users and art consumers is the idea of credibility. The Internet provides a sense of separation and anonymity for both users and creators. What people do on the Web could easily be misconstrued. Truth in Internet interactions and art through the Web is something that has been dealt with for years. One artist that has delved into this issue is Ken Goldberg. In August of 1994  Mercury ProjectGoldberg launched an Internet installation called the Mercury Project where viewers could manipulate the arm of an old IBM robot and camera to search for items in a sandbox (Baumgartel 88). The controls were found through a Web site. A problem with this project, however, was that users questioned the credibility of the Web site. Many believed that the site was a fraud and that their controls did nothing for the robotic arm. Goldberg was intrigued by this concept of trust and the Internet. Goldberg used these concepts as the theme for the rest of his artistic work. He continued to explore the varying levels of perception and credibility on the Internet.  In present day, many users trust wholly in the Internet to maintain their communication lines with family and friends, to find love, to read their news, among many other things. If the trust is not there, the commitment to use the Internet is lost. Goldberg continued to decipher how credibility and validity could be tested through the Web and he did this through various other Internet installations. Goldberg was able to test this by using installations to show a real and physical reality, which was transmitted through tools like Webcams and then tested by the levels of interaction. But in many senses, the level of interaction through the Web can be seen as superficial and the validity is tarnished. To test this he created experiences that wrestle with the problem of mediation and physical existence. He challenged the viewers through his art to engage and thus provoked anxiety. Goldberg believes that an essential function of contemporary art is captured through the use of anxiety and the viewer’s apprehension about the future. Since the Internet is not controlled by any institutional authority, the artist is able to set up interesting and ambiguous situations for the viewer to partake in. His best known work can be seen in the Telegarden, which was an Internet installation where users could grow plants via the Web. Goldberg claimed that he created this work as a criticism of the Internet. He says, “It was the most absurd application we could think of. The garden is supposed to be a sanctuary, a safe place to experience nature” (Baumgartel 91). Interestingly, when the work debuted in June 1995 the idea was seen as strange and absurd. However, now 14 years later, social networks like Facebook contain applications where users can have their own “virtual” gardens. This idea of connecting reality with the virtual world has now spread into the fabric of Internet existence.

While Goldberg’s work was initially viewed as being outrageous because of its imaginative and virtual interaction, it has lead to the development of Web programs that are thoroughly immersed in the Internet culture. In 2009 there are Web sites that exist like Webkinz where children of all ages can create a virtual world withWebkinztheir pet and maintain its existence on the computer. Participants are expected to feed and care for the creature like a real pet and will reap the repercussions of ignorance. These connections that people make with virtual beings and creatures have made maintaining “life” more interactive for even the youngest generation. 

Evolution of the Web and Art

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Art BabbleThe inventions of the Internet and the habits that have developed in users have also created a new way for people to view the archival history of 21st century art. Because of the rapidly changing ability of Internet art, a piece can be changed at any instant. Being able to write a history about the art is and could become increasingly difficult. Charlie Gere in his essay called “The History of Network Art” states that, “With the speed of technologies involved, means that the rhythm at which it is produced and commented upon is unprecedented. Net art is thus a product and symptom of the ‘unlimited upheaval underway in archival technology’” (Corby 11). The Internet provides a frenetic atmosphere where change and adaptation occurs instantaneously. This idea that the ability to archive artwork might be lost or hindered because of the Internet can be seen in works such as Davis’ or even in how Facebook provides users with the ability to update their profiles however they like. This change in how people interact with art and one another changes how a user should view art’s history. Users are now able to update or comment on art almost instantaneously, which is a change from how traditional art was viewed or critiqued. The concept of the history of art on the Internet is changed because of the ability of the work to be changed or commented on so easily than previous artistic media. Julian Stallabrass, a professor at The Courtauld Institute of 


Art in London, suggests that net art provides for a unique view on the concept of archiving art. He says that net art produces “a complex interaction of unrealized past potential and Utopian futures” (Corby 22). The histories are not concrete for net art and with the ever changing and developing of social networks and social media, artists will have a plethora of options to archive their art in the sense of genealogy rather than artifact. This could mean that artists would archive or post their work to a Web site where it could exist unchanged for eternity. Or this could mean that art posted to the Web could be updated and reposted whenever the artist desired.

As art continues to progress in how it can be created and consumed on the Web, the Internet is also developing how people communicate with one another, whether related to art or not. The images of computers from the 1950s that resonate pictures of large floor-to-ceiling contraptions are a distant reality of what exists today. With computers becoming small enough to fit in the palm of someone’s hand and computers that move on networks 100 times faster than those of earlier decades, it is hard to imagine a life without them. Even as familiar as they are now in the 21st century, they still are developing and evolving how people communicate daily. Media archaeologist Erkki Huhtamo says in his article, “From Cybernation to Interaction” that “the fact that computers have become ubiquitous, portable, and networked—and indeed, have turned into media machines themselves—has not completely dispelled the feelings of awe toward them” (Lunenfeld 109). Computers and the Internet haveCommunicate provided people all around the world the ability to communicate with one another instantaneously. This act is done through e-mail, chat rooms, tweets and Facebook messages. What many people forget is that the technology did not appear overnight but was rather developed over a period of time and in many ways this period of time coincided with the incoming net art revolution. Huhtamo says, “Even though today’s powerful media machineries have the power to make things (instead of ‘merely’ presenting them) almost overnight, these ‘things’ including interactive media are not created out of nowhere” (Lunenfeld 109).

The evolution of computers from being devices of display to tools of interaction occurred because of the desire of people to have another mechanism for communication. People wanted the opportunity to use these big-brained machines for uses other than processing data. One of the areas that net art initially explored, which is still present in today’s social media, is the idea of creating virtual habitats or identities from the power of technology. In William J. Mitchell’s essay on “Replacing Space” he states “The Web presents to its users a world of information sites and links; you can explore it simply by clicking with a mouse to follow links from site to site, much as a tourist might explore a city” (Lunenfeld 115). This statement is true in the sense that the Internet is a connected virtual structure that has the ability to link millions of users. The Web can be seen as a vast world of real estate and that people and companies will hunt and poach for the best “land.” This can be seen in how Web sites are built and what types of elaborate applications are used on their sites. In social media, this idea is further proven as companies strive to have the best Facebook page, most updated Twitter account and most active LinkedIn profiles. In the early 1990s though, the world of connectivity was just starting and a precursor for all things social media can be seen in the development of art on the web. 


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Wikipedia LogoThe connections that artists and everyday users can make to the early days of net art are seen in many of the aspects of modern social media tools. Wikipediafirst started in January 2001 by Jimmy Wales as collaborative online encyclopedia (Bruns 103). Its aim was slightly altered from the traditional view of an encyclopedia since rather than representing one set of accepted knowledge, it came from multiple representations of knowledge (Bruns 103). The idea behind Wikipedia was to act as an open tool where volunteers and everyday users could come and contribute to a reference source on the Internet. Pages about any and all topics were created, read and edited. The idea of maintaining verifiability could be upheld because every user was an editor, and mistakes could be hinder by the numerous numbers of viewers. Wikipedia was not the first creation of its kind. In March 2000, Wales created Nupedia, which was anNupedia online encyclopedia resource where experts created entries. It failed within its three years of existence was the fact that it relied on a peer review by scholars who volunteered their time. Nupedia hoped to be a substitute for the traditionally printed encyclopedia. What the founders did not see was the opportunity for a wider involvement by the public (Bruns 105). When Wikipedia was created, it was not necessarily an emergence of a new tool but rather a collection of already existing Web communities. These Web communities were specialized and had fans and experts in these topics who shared their knowledge. What Wikipedia was able to do was capture all the information available on the Web about all topics in a central location. Wales believed that Wikipedia could succeed because of its system of checks and balances. Wales stated in 2001 “There’s a simple way to tell if it’s any good. Find an entry on something you know something about. Odds are it’ll hold up pretty well—you’ll probably even learn something new” (Bruns 106).

Wikipedia offers its users the ability to examine and compare previous edits of the same page so that users can evaluate the quality of work of their predecessors, thus continuing a communal evaluation (Bruns 107). Henry Jenkins stated in his book, Convergence Culture, “The Wikipedia community, at its best, functions as a self-correcting adhocracy. Any knowledge that gets posted can and most likely will be revised and corrected by other readers” (255). The content that is developed on Wikipedia provides a direct relationship between the content creation on the actual Web site and through the discussion done during the creation process. This communication is visible through the discussion boards. With this understanding in mind, Wikipedia can is seen as a continuous open document that can be and will be changed at any moment. In many ways, the idea of Wikipedia reflects Davis’ work and his idea of having continuous and open interaction among viewers and users. The World’s First Collaborative Sentence, while not an encyclopedia, could be viewed as an open source project where any user could come and create, read and edit the Web site. These words could also simply describe the purpose of Wikipedia.

While the idea of having an open reference source open to the public to edit and use is the foundation of Wikipedia, the Web site has encountered many critics and issues along the way. Clay Shirky, a professor at New York University said in 2005, “Wikipedia is not a product, it is a system. …Like democracy, it is messier than planned system at any given point in time, but it is not just self-healing, it is self-improving” (Shirky 1). Wikipedia may always look somewhat chaotic and disheveled but there is a method to the madness. Its ever-changing atmosphere and self-made nature are large factors that differentiate Wikipedia from other traditional encyclopedias. A main strength of Wikipedia is its ability, because of its endless list of editors, to include non-conventional data. This data is information that has been ignored by traditional print editions because of their lack of relevance to the print’s guidelines. With Wikipedia, users who are fanatical about numerous topics that could range from Tolkien’s Middle Earth to the fictional language Klingoni can share their accurate knowledge to the world (Bruns 122). This ability by Wikipedia helps to reinforce its importance to the user by including and supporting the importance of these topics for the user.  Regardless of the topic, whether conventional or not, the information on Wikipedia asks only one thing from its users: verifiability.

Wikipedia requires that all entries be based upon reputable resources. This has caused criticism because in many ways, the ability to find information on the Web, has made some question what reputable actually means.  Because of this, and the constant ability for anyone to edit any page at any moment, Wikipedia constantly has to deal with vandalism (Bruns 121).

Vandalism on Wikipedia is perpetuated through incorrect edits or entries created with false information. A prime example of this is in the biography of journalist John Seignethaler Sr., whose page was falsified with the claim that he had been implicated in the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy (Bruns 124). Incorrect information could be made readily available to the public and without a constant vigilance over the page, malicious or

John McCain's Wikipedia page vandalized after 2009 election lost

John McCain's Wikipedia page vandalized after 2009 election lost

 disruptive information could be included. Wales has called these disruptors by the names of “edit warriors,” “point-of-view warriors,” and “revert warriors” (Bruns 140). In many ways, these “warriors” create situations that are similar to the work JODI did in the mid 1990s. While, some warriors act on the sole mission of maliciousness, others act in a way to evoke thought and emotion among those that encounter the page. The disruption of the truth, or sometimes the questioning of the truth, through Wikipedia, can cause users to feel as if they are being personally invaded—much like how OSS/**** affected its users. Since Wikipedia has a system to ward off these “attacks” through its 400 administrators who “can delete articles, protect pages, and block IP address” and more people above them called bureaucrats, stewards and superelites, who can make direct changes to the software and database, most of these infringements are caught (Bruns 141).


However, there are times when the users do not agree with a removal or deletion of a Wikipedia page by the administrators. Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern provide a very recent example of this through Wikipedia Art onwikipedia-artFebruary 14, 2009. Wikipedia Art was created as art that could be made and composed through Wikipedia—thus being art that anyone could edit (Wikipedia Art). Because it was setup as a conventional Wikipedia page, Kildall and Stern had to ensure that it would meet the standards of verifiability of Wikipedia. The art was suppose to be completely interactive and collaborative—somewhat like Davis’ work but with more constraints. Kildall and Stern said “Any changes to the art had to be publish on, and cited from, ‘credible’ external sources: interviews, blogs or articles in ‘trustworthy’ media institutions” (Wikipedia Art). The artwork (or the page simply) would change and evolve by others writing and talking about it. However, Wikipedia administrators and some community members felt that the page was too controversial and not fitting in the structure of encyclopedia. The page was flagged and removed after 15 hours of its creation. What stemmed from the page was a continued discussion and debate of its place on Wikipedia. This outcome, in its essence, still fulfilled Kildall and Stern’s aim because it still developed through discussion, except not on a Wikipedia page. The discussion, however, was heated and thorough, even after the page’s demise. Wikipedia Art was suppose to be viewed as a performative utterance where artists, writers, editors could join and construct, transform, destruct or resurrect the artwork. Stern and Kildall said, “Like knowledge and like art, Wikipedia Art is always already variable” (Wikipedia).

Daniel Rigal, a Wikipedia administrator, responded to a Wikipedia discussion board about the deletion of the Wikipedia Art page by stating that the attempt to use Wikipedia as an art platform is not encyclopedic. He argued that the page could never be encyclopedic because it would constantly cite itself because it was an original work created on a Wikipedia page. Patrick Lichty, a digital intermedia artist, argued against Rigal’s assertion that Wikipedia Art has no place on an encyclopedia by stating, “In the online work of art, there is a gravity that remains with the author, even in the piece of net art, but in Wikimedia/Wikipedia Art, the work becomes solely a locus initiated by agents, and left for intervention” (Lichty 1). Lichty questions whether Wikipedia could be made into art. He believes that it could, and that it could be seen as a networked conceptualism. Wikipedia administrators and users continued to argue that they did not disagree with the merits of the artwork, but that it would have been more fitting on another Web host. However, among the one hundred comments made on the discussion board, many argued that it could be seen as disruptive art, and could fit on Wikipedia. Lichty continued to argue that the assertion that Wikipedia is open and editable to anyone makes it a possible art platform. He likened the debate to the Surrealists and how their art, in essence, was purely disruptive or unexpected (Lichty 1). The discussion has spread to Facebook, the blogosphere and even in academic circles through posts on the Institute for Distributed Creativity. The debate on openness and purpose is ever evident through Wikipedia and continues to evolve over time, with many of its standards and problems founded in early net art. 


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Facebook LogoAnother way that early net art has affected the Internet is through social networks, specifically, Facebook. Mitchell stated in his essay “Replacing Place” that the Internet can be viewed as a virtual city where the user can explore and maneuver through by clicking links. When Mitchell wrote his essay in 1999, the “city” of Facebook had yet to exist but many of his assertions still hold true today. Mitchell questioned what made people want to stay in the virtual worlds that they would encounter (Lunenfeld 125). His answer to his question was the idea of persistence. “If you know that your environment will be there, as you left it, the next time you log in, then you have some motivation to invest time and resources in improving it” (Lunenfeld 126). Facebook now has over 200 million active users, with over 100 million logging in at least once a day (Facebook). These users return to the Web site because they are comfortable with their environment and the set up of their page. This familiarity draws users back into the social networking world because it is like meeting up at the local hang out. Mitchell also stated, “If there is some social capital in the association that you have formed with fellow inhabitants, then you will think twice about ditching them and moving on” (Lunenfeld 126).

            Facebook, in many aspects, has many faces, where it can be seen as a purely social world, or a purely professional tool, or a mixture of the two. Harvard Professor Yochai Benkler, believes that people can “use their network connections to loosen social bonds that are too hierarchical and stifling, while filling in the gaps where their real-world relations seem lacking” (Bruns 317).  The Internet creates an easier situation for people to connect, reconnect or disconnect. While this holds true for all users, it has also become very important for the networking of artists.Facebook Book Page

Facebook is officially described as “a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people’s real-world social connections” (Facebook). Artists began setting up their Facebook profiles soon after the 2007 requirement lift, which made it unnecessary for members to be affiliated with education institutions. The flow of artists onto the social media site was slow and it was not until late 2008 that more artists began to join because of Jerry Saltz, an influential art critic for New York Magazine (Butler 1). It was the first time that artists could see someone reputable within their community join the network and like with any peer-influenced decisions, a snowball affect ensued and other artists followed. Now with many artists on Facebook the way art is promoted, made, and bought has changed. The most useful tool on Facebook for artists is their ability to market themselves and to connect with other known and unknown artists. In many ways Facebook could be seen as a gallery within itself. Artists can promote their work thorough posting pictures in their photo albums, or by linking to their blogs through notes, or even creating an event for an actual gallery showing. The layout for Facebook is also intriguing in the art world. Artists now utilize Facebook applications like photo albums as places to display their work, the status bar as a way to headline an idea or upcoming even, the widgets to add flair to their page, and even using the news feed to see what other artists are doing. All of these tools can culminate in a creation of their own canvas, a constantly changing art piece that is updated frequently.  These widgets and applications provide the paint for these artists to personalize and transform their profile pages into a reflection of their own work.

One of the many ways that users can personalize their pages is through commercialized applications, and one significant application that can be seen as a connection back to early net art is My Garden. My Garden was created by Tim Saberi and Greg Thomson and has over 22,600 active users. The application description is: “Grow your own virtual garden! Send flowers to your friends for free, and let them send them to you as well. Put your virtual garden on your profile page for everyone to see” (Facebook). In many ways, this application is very similar on the surface to the idea of Goldberg’s Telegarden. While this application is completely commercial idea of being able to control a pure asset of reality, a garden, virtually is still there. My GardenWhile Goldberg’s work was a questioned for its validity, the application, and its users are fully aware of the virtual characteristics of  My Garden. According to Mitchell, Goldberg’s Telegarden created “a sense of accountability for one’s actions, and people keep returning because they want to see how their garden is growing and changing, and because they have personal stake in it” (Lunenfeld 126). Still today, nearly 14 years later, the Internet user is still controlling a virtual garden. The user still logs in every day because regardless of the lack of reality, they still feel accountable for their actions.

The parallels seen between My Garden and the Telegarden is an example of the changes that can occur when an idea from art is transferred to a more commercial use. The change is significant and affects how each piece is viewed. Goldberg created his piece in an attempt to get his viewers to question the state of reality. TheTelegarden Internet provides another dimension for people to interact and live on that is very different from the physical world. On the Internet, different realities and worlds can be tested and experienced. Goldberg used this ability to help lead his viewers through several art pieces that further questioned reality. Once this idea was transferred into a commodity, the goals and experiences behind the piece diminish greatly. My Garden can be seen as a purely entertainment commodity created to please the user rather than question them. The design is based off of ideas that condone a positive reception from the user and the upkeep is maintained to ensure continued use by them. The immersion of commodity with art often strips the work of its meaning and directs it towards full control of the user. If a commodity is not well received then it will not survive in the market. The merits of the commodity do not matter to the consumer. The merits could be nonexistent but if it is attractive to the consumer, the product will thrive. An example of this view can be seen in how  early video art influenced contemporary reality TV are often similar on the surface but completely far a part in intention.

In a New York Times articlepublished in 2001, Michael Rush discusses the connections and absolute disconnect between video art and reality tv. “The earliest days of video art in the mid- to late 60’s had a motley mix of video sculptures (Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell), feedback systems (Mr. Gillette, Ira Schneider, Peter Weibel, Valie Export), alternative television and documentaries (Jean-Luc Godard, Skip Blumberg) and conceptual performance tapes (Joan Jonas, Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman, John Baldessari)” (Rush 1). In 1969 Frank Gillette and Ira Schneider Wipe Cycle created a video art piece called “Wipe Cycle” for the Howard Wise Gallery in New York. The piece consisted of nine video monitors where four played pretaped material and five played live and delayed images of viewers of the gallery. The reactions from the viewer were shock and awe because they couldn’t believe that they were being taped live. Their aim for the piece was to “integrate the audience into the information” (Rush 2). Interestingly, reality shows in the 21st century in many ways integrate real, nonprofessional actors, into real life situations. The main difference though is that he people are not shocked an awed anymore but rather prepared and commercialized for their appearances on television. The concept behind the piece is lost and the commodity has made it entertainment. The parallels in how video art was immersed into television are the same parallels seen in net art and its immersion with freeware and Internet widgets.  


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