Art on the Net/Web

With its distributed architecture and multi-directional connections, the Internet is a revolutionary communications tool that breaks with centuries-old traditions by putting the focus on the nonlinear, the multidisciplinary, the interactive, and the participatory; and blurring the distinction between artist and audience.

Net art has relationships with the information and communication technology industries, with science, mathematics, design, literature, and music, among others. Hybrid identities, fluid realities, and emergence have become part of the routine. While many net artists have developed programming skills, there are as many who have elected to collaborate with computer scientists and/or software and hardware developers; thus, people who have never considered themselves “artists” find themselves bringing their skills to artistic collaborations. In addition, because computers seamlessly facilitate multimedia, the boundaries between disciplines begin to dissolve. Visual artists collaborate with musicians, composers, film makers, dancers, choreographers. Indeed the potential and need for collaboration is one of the most exciting outcomes of the networked environment and NRPA, in recognition of the creative, social, political and economic advantages of bridging the perceived divide between all disciplines, enthusiastically supports such collaborative efforts.

Net/Web Art in Physical Space

In 2002, Michelle Thursz and Doron Golan opened The Moving Image Gallery, a physical gallery at 414 Broadway in lower Manhattan The gallery operated for over a year, during which time it produced fifteen shows and events, including Bypaths with Turbulence artists Diane Bertolo, Angie Eng, and Annette Weintraub, whose net art works were presented as installations.

There was little agreement among the three as to how the works should be presented. About channelUntitled, Bertolo said, “channelUntitled is already a site specific work and its site is the Internet. It was never intended to be part of the physical world.” She showed her work “as is,” making it as close as possible to the experience audience members would have on their own computers at home.

Empty Velocity, by Angie Eng, was not intended for a public setting either. But Angie, who is a video artist and has done a number of video installations, placed the emphasis – not on the conceptual part of her work, not on the work you would see online (although of course that was there) – but on shaping the way the audience would experience it. The installation was a ‘stage’ setting for the work.

Annette, whose work was more documentary, showed Crossroads as a video.

In 2001 a large exhibit of work by artists working in the networked medium was presented at the Tribes Gallery. It signaled the importance to artists of working both in the immaterial medium and in physical space, and more perhaps, the importance of inclusion of net art in the world of art galleries and museums.

Helen Thorington gave a talk, Web Art in Physical Spaces, at the opening.

NRPA went on to experiment with net art exhibitions in galleries, including Pace Digital Gallery (New York, NY), Art Interactive (Cambridge, MA), IAO Gallery (Oklahoma City, OK), Huret & Spector Gallery (Boston, MA), and Greylock Arts (Adams, MA). Several of the exhibitions were curated around themes of real/imaginary, online/offline, analog/digital, and mixed/hybrid realities.

Networked Art in Hybrid Spaces

Hybrid works extend digital media into the physical world and transform the landscape and urban streets into a canvas for computer augmented, social, and physical interaction. Advances in mobile devices, wireless networks and location-sensing technologies inspired a flood of new experimental projects — what some called “post net art practices.” Projects include location aware games, annotation and walking projects employing digital mapping tools, interventions, and telematic performances.

Networked Art Publications

Networked_Performance: In July 2004, in partnership with Michelle Riel, then chair of Teledramatic Art and Technology at California State University Monterey Bay, NRPA launched the Networked_Performance blog. The goal was to take the pulse of network-enabled practice, to obtain a wide range of perspectives on current issues and interests — which they felt were under-examined — and to uncover common threads. With over 9,800 entries, and 3,000 visitors per day, the Networked_Performance blog reveals an explosion of new work taking place as artists and others explore the migration of desktop computing off of the Internet and into the physical world, and the continuing advances in internet, wireless, sensor, and GPS technologies. In the process, Networked_Performance has become an important resource for the new media community, and a space through which many festivals, conferences, events, publications, and artwork are shared with the world.

Launched in 2007, Networked_Music_Review (NMR) focuses on emerging networked musical and sound explorations made possible by computers, the Internet, and mobile technologies. It documents musical/sound explorations created specifically for the Internet; and explorations that make use of wireless and mobile technologies to create interactive or participatory musical/sound works in real space. With its focus on music, sound, audio, and radio, NMR offers information about projects, performances, journals, tools, and experimental performance platforms. NRPA also commissioned 15 composers to create small works for the blog, and presented them live during the Programmable Media II: Networked Music symposium at Pace University in April 2008. NMR has over 4,000 posts and a readership of 2,000 readers a day.

Networked: a (networked_book) About (networked_Art): In 2008, and Eduardo Navas began their groundbreaking project, Networked: a (networked_book) About (networked_Art). The goal was to develop and publish an online, trans-disciplinary book that would address recent artistic developments made possible by computers and mobile connectivity. Networked proposed that a history or critique of interactive and/or participatory art must itself be interactive and/or participatory; that the technologies used to create a work suggest new forms a “text” might take. NRPA commissioned five chapters and published them online using Wiki/blog technology to enable the public to revise, update, debate and translate them. Five additional chapters were added after the project launched on August 1, 2009. “The Immediated Now” was translated into Chinese. Unfortunately, NRPA had to close comments because the site was hacked in 2012.

3 X 3: New Media Fix(es) on Turbulence: The Networked Book grew out of a 2007 collaboration with NewMediaFix, 3 X 3: New Media Fix(es) on Turbulence. Three essays – by Josephine Bosma, Belen Gache, and Eduardo Navas – were commissioned and made available in English, Italian and Spanish.

Artists’ Studios, Guest Curators, Spotlight

In these three sections on the Turbulence site, NRPA offers a high profile, well-trafficked venue for additional artists’ work and promotes them as energetically as its commissioned artists. Artists have found that this drives more traffic to their personal web sites and brings their work to the attention of a much larger public; they are also more likely to get reviews and be included in exhibitions. These spaces also allowed NRPA to expand it’s geographic reach; to include artists from around the world who were not eligible for grants because of restrictions placed on NRPA by its funders.