I am interested in the question of the internet leveling things vs. the internet having hierarchy, but less politically and more (in a slightly Convergence Culture way) technically. Less interested in the search engines organizing what is supposed to be an “open playing field” and more interested in how our actions/expectations change as ease of information and exposure to a variety of mediums all gets presented through the same browser screen.
Cultural convergences as I understand it typically discusses the intersection between the commercial and amateurism, a popular point of interest for many surf bloggers. I pull it from the quote above if for no other reason than it’s useful to name. Of course, for me, what an artist does with that material in the process of finding it or after seems to be the point at which art happens, an aspect I think many people find confusing simply because there isn’t enough history and discussion about the practice for many viewers to feel comfortable labeling what works for them and what doesn’t.
Adding to Williamson’s comments about the browser, I’d like to begin by noting that medium specificity has always created unique viewer relationships. People experience sculpture differently than painting for example, because there is a different physical and spatial relationship to the object. In many ways these concepts remain the same when viewing art on a computer even if the variables change. So for example, unlike a photograph or a sculpture, a net artist has less control over a viewers interaction with its framing mechanisms. The size of screen or the color of the browser a user choses to view their work in, vary from household to household, and there’s very little an artist can do to customize that experience. Other aspects remain constant — viewers will experience work on a flat screen, images will be always seen at 72 dpi, they will always be framed by a browser, in all likelihood the smallest screen size will be 800 pixels which informs how an artist works.
All of this of course is old hat to designers and net artists, who have been working with this set of problems for a while. However, for those who don’t think about these concerns all that often, it’s worth remarking that a large part of an artist’s web practice — whether they think too much about it or not — is implicitly concerned with image file management and display. In other words, decisions about the size and placement of a jpg or video file are always being made. In this way, I see a lot of aesthetic similarities between net art to collage and photography, because frame, composition, and layering, are always a concern. This of course, doesn’t speak to the element of interactivity or the conceptual concerns of the artist, but since we’re just talking aesthetics here, those topics are beyond the scope of this post.