Evolution of the Web and Art


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. 


~ by netart2web on 04/28/2009.

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