on.net.art incomplete, but released

Dealing with Net.Art we have to consider two aspects: Networks and the Arts. Networks are more than just connected computers. And the Arts are not only defined by artists or through their works.
Technologies, like the Internet, are in Europe still widely unavailable to artists and art schools.
Also, they are often totally misunderstood by ‘conventional’ artists and their institutional powers and partners.
Internet does not only support digitized communication facilities or automated information circuitries, it helps us to learn to understand each other as users of a shared environment, not just connecting computers.
It also forces us to work together, without cooperation these networks cannot exist.

In stead of using this technology to create new art, or explore, research and experiment, many (if not most) artists, as you can find after some simple searches on the Internet, just use the Internet to present old art. Just a few years ago, few artists made their own choice to go on the Internet. Currently, most artists on the Internet are curated by others. The next step for us will be to use the Internet not to present or curate, but to create new works of art. It is difficult for artists to cooperate or collaborate in this field.

Artists have lost their art domain to galleries, museums and bureaucrats. Here lies the other opportunity: using the net to create new independent, self-governing temporary systems, that we can use for our own purpose, even if nobody wants to take a look at. Artworks that can survive on the net are not depending on one single mind, but have to be widely connected in order to exist.

The Internet has offered and still offers many new opportunities to artists, since it is an open environment which lacks classic authorities and government. This has very much changed since public and commercial activities have taken over the old purpose of the Internet. This opening of the Internet has enabled artists to work and present their works freely (more or less, if you have the resources or easy access to this technology).

The Arts have become a commodity business, with transitory meanings and appearances. Most artists are following the offered trends, because they will have to produce works for the art mart. Acceptance of new art forms have turned into paper work procedures. Many artists spend lifetimes on collecting documentation and filling out application forms. In return a majority is filed and doomed to become statistical sub matter.
In the eighties graffiti was taken from the streets and hung in galleries and museums. In the nineties this is happening to computer applied arts and that is being taken from the Infobahn. This is a necessary step in order to make distinctions and create new oeuvres, genres, schools. Since the Net is a void there is a lot of space available, not just to install these environments, but to accelerate its differentiations. Layer after layer new traditions are installed. First the new art sub specie has to be debugged, documented and made compatible. After being verified it can be related to other, nearby art forms or objects. in the case of net.art it might be compared to video art, experimental film, performance, conceptual art or electronic art or even ‘media art’.
The Internet is forcing you to work with restricted means to produce compact, fast events. Time based matter. Conventional arts, however, can only exist as monumental or mass reproduced works. Most art on the net represent this need to be present, to be seen and wanted.

This goes very well together with fragile and vulnerable networks as the Internet.

Originally posted on nettime
Published in the 7. transmediale katalog, 1997