Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997
From: Joachim Blank

What is netart ;-)?

Joachim Blank

The text below is a contribution to an exhibition and congress called " (History of) Mailart in Eastern Europe" at the Staatliches Museum Schwerin (Germany) 1996 [excerpted]

The "Internet myth" is the result of a massive self-referentiality of our media landscape. Unlimited communication in a yet unknown conglomerate made of machines, cables and people. The exclusive networld of cyberpunks, scientists and artists has been superseded by the thirst for information of the industrialized mass consumption. Nevertheless, the cultural "stylistic howlers" of communication in data networks continue to exist not only in the underground.

Artistic projects, strategy projects, discussion forums and autonomous network structures within the vast Internet, but remote from the glossy, dust-free surfaces, show interesting beginnings for an alternative use of this medium.

Netart vs. Art on the Net

The art market has discovered the net for the distribution of art. It uses the net to promote art just like ordinary companies. Gallerists, museums and other art brokers provide information about their artists, exhibitions and events. For them, the net is nothing more than a big telephone book in which they too want to (have to) be represented.

However, netart differs from art on the net. Art on the net is mostly nothing more than the documentation of art which is not created on the net, but rather outside it and, in terms of content, does not establish any relationship to the net. Netart functions only on the net and picks out the net or the "netmyth" as a theme. It often deals with structural concepts: A group or an individual designs a system that can be expanded by other people. Along with that is the idea that the collaboration of a number of people will become the condition for the development of an overall system. netart projects without the participation of external persons are perhaps interesting concepts, but they do not manifest themselves as a collective creativity in the net (Dieter Daniels, The idea is fundamental, but dubious without media-specific translation and without participation of other people. For all netart projects there is a retraceable starting point, an author, so to speak. Nevertheless, what develops from one idea of one single artist with the collaboration of many others, is incalculable. Like the incentive of gambling, here too the openness, the curiosity about an imaginary end, the exciting challenge of taking part in such projects. And that with a medium like Internet, which makes a direct form of intervention possible at the same time on different levels of communication (text, sound, picture, motion picture, real time).