This week at the L Magazine, I find my center and spread the gospel. There’s some net art out there that talks more about the soul than about the iPhone. I call it good.
At some point, everybody stopped caring that the Internet is really big. In 2001, DirecTV was advertising the speed of their DSL with a video of a middle-aged guy reaching the end of the Internet; it was funny because at that time the Internet was big enough for that to be absurd, but new enough for bigness to be interesting. The meme the ad was playing off—any of various websites declaring themselves the end of the Internet, and telling you to go play outside—had already been circulating via newsgroups and forums for two or three years.
The main reasons the joke got old aren’t very interesting. Jokes get old, and it wasn’t a super-amazing punchline anyway. Somewhere in there was the growing realization that the Internet wasn’t a thing unto itself so much as an extension of real life. And we always knew real life was big.
Then again, there’s a difference between knowing the world is big and really starting to comprehend its bigness. It’s the feeling of the sublime you get when looking at mountains, or the sea, or when looking out the window of a plane. Artists have used it to shock a response out of their audience for hundreds or thousands of years. And when we gave up on the idea—even as a joke—of the Internet having borders, we also brought that sublime onto our desks.
Predictably, the artists followed. And they’ve made some fantastic art out of it.
To read the full piece, click here.