Jun 07, 2008
posted at 22:01 GMT by T.Whid in /news/twhid
All around a fine evening.
It was a bit of a set-up between artists of the older generation (T.Whid, the McCoys; artists who took part in ‘net art 1.0’) and artists of a younger generation (Petra Cortright, Damon Zucconi) with Tom Moody thrown in to prove that you can be over 30 and also a member of a surfing club.
But seriously, I was fairly bombastic at one point and it went something like this: “It seems like the artists that were involved in earlier stage of net art have given up on it to a certain degree, my question to the younger artists on the panel: why haven’t you figured out that it’s a dead end?”
This little rhetorical bomb was tossed specifically to spice up the discussion a tad. I’m going to try to expand and clear it up.
Before I get into it I need to make clear that when I talk about net art, I’m using the classic definition: “art that uses the internet as its medium and that cannot be experienced in any other way.” To me, this definition shouldn’t be diluted, it just leads to confusion. I use the term web art for art on the web that can exist entirely in one browser session. Note that I think blogs (including photo, video, or other media blogs) fulfill the classic definition of net art.
First, MTAA hasn’t given up on net art entirely. We’re working on a small piece currently that fits the classic definition of net art and our latest large piece, “Want”, has, at the very least, the possibility of fitting the ole skool definition. So my assertion that we’ve ‘given up’ on net art isn’t really true. Jenn McCoy also mentioned after the panel that she and Kevin haven’t given up either, she likened it to trying to get pregnant but it just won’t happen for whatever reason.
What we’re ‘giving up’ is the idea that this ‘pure’ sort of net art will ever enter the gallery in a way that makes any sense. Many net artists have come up with hybrid net art that does make sense in the gallery space. Examples of MTAA’s efforts in that direction are “Endnode (AKA Printer Tree)” and “Want.”
Second, the ‘dead end’ comment is a red herring. The younger generation never entertained these grand and flawed ideas of a ‘pure’ net art. The artists on the panel made it very clear that their work comprises video, looping animations, photography, holography(!), web sites, etc. I believe that Damon’s first comment was that his work is multi-disciplinary. The earlier generation of net artists learned the hard way that transitioning the ‘pure’ form of net art into the gallery is very problematic. The current generation of digital artists seems to have side-stepped this problem entirely.
A few words on surfing clubs (PDF link to Marcin Ramocki’s thorough essay on the genre).
Mail art is to net art as graffiti art is to surf clubs.
The panel discussion bogged down considerably during the surfing club portion in my opinion. I’m guessing that since the clubs are by their nature somewhat insular and ‘insider-y,’ the audience felt it. There were 3 practitioners of the genre discussing it without a real thought to making it very accessible to the audience. During my live-twittering of the panel, I made a couple of comments to this regard (1, 2).
Apologies to anyone that was insulted by my tweets. It was a rather rude way of offering my criticism.
Cross-posted to Rhizome; comment there if you feel the desire. permanent link to this post