Jennifer Chan September 3, 2011 at 1:51 am

I don’t think there is no entirely neutral or democratic art form although the gif is an immediate and pluralist medium that anyone can create with a computer. We’re still limited by access (to technology) and the assumption that (post)internet culture only consists of cats, gadgets and lulz. 
In addition to that there are mini-hierarchies that form within communities of gif-ers, remixers, Flash animators, feminist remixers, internet poets…etc. There is a lot beyond NYC and Chicago (net art from the UK on furtherfield, or from italy/eastern europe) that doesn’t hit Rhizome or ArtInfo, and therefore isn’t recognized as “contemporary” net practice.As an artist/curator I feel we should be skeptical of every transition and attempt to formalize presentation within the gallery. I wonder why I feel such an impulse to adhere to existing modes of museum-style presentation at all and catch myself doing it quite a lot (computers on plinths/ipads on the wall, etc.) Is it so necessary for substantiating something “immaterial” as gallery art? If we are as “internet-aware” as we think I feel we should be curating our peers works more outside of the gallery, and applying a specific and personal lens to them. We should be having shows in parks and screenings in toilets; artist meetups/group therapy/speed dating, whatever brings people together haha.I guess artists don’t explicitly share their techniques because there is this assumption that amateur aesthetics are banal/easy to learn with a tutorial? On such an open medium I don’t think that there is anything to hide… though as with the history of art there is probably always some competition to be “first!~’ with innovating art made with every newly launched 2.0 technology. 

Duncan Alexander September 4, 2011 at 1:39 am

You’re right, that there is a “first post!” mentality to a lot of online work, especially when it highlights the qualities of social media, and that makes sense as a reason for technique secrecy. I would argue that it’s an unsustainable model though and boring as a long-term strategy. Once you’ve found those unique qualities of the issue at hand that differentiates it from previous online experience (usually the next Facebook upgrade or Social Network with a Twist) future work is trite. Look at net art predicated on Google+ for instance; everyone was very excited at the beginning due to limited GIF support and Hangouts. From my personal vantage point on the network (which I would assume is similar to yours seeing as we share contacts) things have slowed down significantly since early July. Point to school and the end of the summer, but it seems like such a drop off in content from the initial rush that I can’t help but think of new car smell dissipating. “First post” is the dullest form of critique.

Also re: your formalizing comment I thought that trivializing the academic/gallery structure was part of your practice? 🙂 I think that because there is such variation in internet-based artwork combined with near-immediate accessibility, we have to think harder when curating about the balance of critique and the avant-garde. Examples: on the one hand, Postmodernism was a sharp critique of white straight Western male Modernist blah blah dominance in the arts and it worked very well. Not to say there aren’t problems any more, but generally it worked. On the other hand, we saw Postmodernism’s end game of critique play out as a re-colonization of art history, which severed the cultural ties or controls that maintained visual art’s stance in popular culture. As for the avant-garde, net history and art history both show that one walks a fine line between demonstrating new ways of thinking and “lol random.” I guess I’m trying to say critique and the avant-garde are two sides to a double-edged sword, so we need to learn how to wield it skillfully in light of the Internet as there is so much more *stuff* to cut through.

Duncan Alexander September 4, 2011 at 1:51 am

Also a general comment on the issue of physicality: I like your ideas for ex-gallery shows, and Dead Drops has shown that it isn’t necessary for net art to be visible in its presentation. That’s an exciting development. However it is mostly visual art we’re talking about, so there are contexts where work needs to be visible, but laptops and projectors aren’t going to cut it. I think that this aspect could be pushed a lot more, especially considering how many ways the digital image can be made physical today.

Will Brand September 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm

One important difference: kinetic art, as a medium, was ill-suited to the sorts of media distribution available at the time, where net art is not only often expressly made with that distribution in mind, but every now and again takes the very form of that distribution. 

Frankly, at the time Thomas Wilfred was making Lumia boxes, I’m not sure how you would have gotten the word out – TV’s not around yet, film’s too expensive, and photography and drawing fail entirely to express the novelty and interest of the artwork. That’s not just a concern for the general public, either – how do you fit a Lumia box-type work on a slide? How do you explain it in the gallery invitation? How do you include it in an art journal? Even if we assume that by the 60s – as the video at the top shows – video is available and being used to document the kinetic art of Malina (or MAT!), the statements of the kineticists make clear that video can be no more than a document of an essentially personal experience: not “seeing motion” so much as “experiencing” motion, if that makes sense.

Net art’s not only in the opposite position – it’s defined by its easy communication, and exists in its full potency every time it’s on a computer screen – but net artists often specifically make decisions aimed at expanding that, e.g. GIFs being used for their reliability and widespread support. I think there’s still more similarities than differences, but it does seem as though we’ve at least made some progress. I think the interesting question is less “will net art fail as kinetic art did?”, and more “would kinetic art have succeeded had Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs been as transmissible as GIFs in the first place?”

Oh, and just to cement that similarity, here’s a Travess Smalley Rotorelief.

xdxd_vs_xdxd September 3, 2011 at 10:10 pm

a couple of things.
3.0 exists, now. and it brings whole new discourses, which have been going on in a certain form for a while, actually: since people started attaching technologies to clothes, bodies, objects and places. But now additional “layers of reality” can be created easily and ubiquitously, opening up new domains.
and then: this all is really similar to what’s happening in architecture. Architects have learned a lot from digital cultures. And digital cultures start learning from architecture a lot. And many of the more interesting things that are happening run along this line: people defining new usage grammars for cities, places, traversals, paths, stops, and for the communication, interaction and relation that takes place in these cases.
And then there is syncretism. What was “collaboration between arts and sciences” is becoming (has become) something more fluid, liquid and organic. New profiles which are hard to classify  as artists, scientists, researchers, designers, architects, engineers, carpenters, activists, hackers, philosophers, entrepreneurs or whatever. Eclectic figures have always existed, but now this modality is systematic, and it has to do with new concepts of learning, knowledge and communication which are connected with the wide accessibility of internet. The ways in which we learn, remember, disseminate, interconnect and share have changed already, and it shows.
So i actually find it hard to take these parallels into full account. It seems that they are based on some similarities, but also that you don’t have to dig that much to discover that context, background and dynamics all make these comparisons a bit forced.
new usage grammars for the world. this is what it is (can be) about. 
you *will* see lots of changes in a few years. You *already* have seen a lot of changes in the last few years. we are different human beings: politics, cultures, markets, ecosystems, societies, identities are different.
Architecture has already realized it and it is communicating it right now. It is an example which I always make: it is not strange that people often go to see the museum, not the art inside it.
Art is coming out from unexpected places: from databases, urbanism, fashion, scientific research, education systems, expert systems, hacked bodies, devices.
Some still have a hard time recognizing it as “art”. But this will change, and we know it: just as it changed for Duchamp, Dada, etc.

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