Net Art 1.0 Definition Reconsidered


Just as Nasty Nets, a premiere Net Art 2.0 site, is in the process of winding down or metamorphosing into the next stage of The Alien [or not --ed.], comes artist and blogger Twhid with this post quoting language from an Israeli Net Art show. This could be a working definition of Net Art, or what we're now calling Net Art 1.0:

--the visualization of data
--open-code access and connectivity
--hacking and online voyeurism involving critiques of authorities and economic powers
--the creation of online behavioral codes and the negotiation of cyberspace from various perspectives

Much of this sounds dated and quaint when vast legions of creative people have found comfortable homes in Rupert Murdoch's MySpace. What is still relevant, using Nasty Nets and some of the other surf club blogs as examples?

I'll throw these out:
1. Camille Paloque-Berges owns "visualization of data" in a Web 2.o sense. She has an exquisite eye for scientific charts and online graphics and appropriates them for her various blogs (here's one, where I got the above image). But often stripped of context and presented as Dada, a la Francis Picabia's pointless machines. Or heightened (enlarged, cropped) to be contemplated for their pure aesthetics. Or interspersed with rank kitsch. The functionality of these confections is also occasionally considered so it's not pure nihilism.

2. Open code access. Everyone still supports this is in principal but as Alex Galloway has pointed out even the rhizomatic web has its protocols. And often people just accept proprietary systems (e.g., Windows) because it's the language of the workplace, where serious surfing, er, online research, gets done by many. Or use YouTube and MySpace because they are a way for creatives to talk--until the Man shuts you down.

3. Hacking. See hacking vs defaults discussion on Guthrie Lonergan's and my blogs. Rhizome/NewMu should have consulted this in picking the "Unmonumental" show!

4. "Online voyeurism involving critiques of authorities and economic powers." This is grant-ese. We'd have to know what it means to grok it in a 2.0 sense. The best critiques of authorities lately have come from political blogs but that has nothing to do with Net Art.

5. "The creation of online behavioral codes and the negotiation of cyberspace from various perspectives." This is where Lonergan and the other surf bloggers shine. Chat room anomalies; confessionals on MySpace; recycled vernacular photography and video; interesting error messages on corporate sites. Somehow I don't think this is what the Israeli exhibition had in mind, but I could be wrong.

6. And then there's this texturemappingpalooza of Borna's--a weird, wonderful, sardonic use of browser space for computerphilic/phobic art, communicated via blog. Where does this fit in the dry scheme of Net Art 1.0? Nowhere, I'd say.