Andreas Broeckmann on Sat, 31 Jan 1998 11:07:32 +0100

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Syndicate: Olia Lialina:

Date: 1.19.98
From: olia lialina (

Making "Agatha Appears" at  Budapest c3, I recalled Metaforum III
(Budapest, October, 1996). At that time I spoke of the Internet as being
open for artistic self-expression, that the time had come to create Net
films, Net stories and so on, to develop a Net language instead of using
the web simply as a broadcast channel. And, of course, the sale of "My
Boyfriend Came Back From the War" to Telepolis On-Line.

What is happening now, more than a year later?

First: I still get messages saying: "Look at my new web movie."
Following the link, I find Quicktime or Shockwave moving images whose
only value is to prove that plug-ins have become more and more perfect,
and bring us closer and closer to home cinema.

Second: Net art is still as cheap as a floppy. For me, the intercoupling
of these things is obvious.

Another thing is quite clear. Questions of what Net art is and "does it
actually exist" appeared in 1996. Today, almost every article devoted to
this subject still starts with the same sentences. They have become more
ornamental than anything really looking for an answer -- these articles
follow fashion, not real interest.

All media festivals, exhibitions and conferences are now well decorated
too: there are Net art sections on event sites, some Net artists and
some beautiful games replete with the term "Net art."  They are
attractive and inexpensive.

It was a year of Net art sales. And it's important to stress that
artworks were much cheaper than ideas. Variations on the theme "Net
artists don't need institutions" or "Net art can exist without galleries
or curators" were welcomed mostly by real galleries and institutions.

What else? A year ago "Net art" as altavista understood it, was all
these sites devoted to art (galleries of painters, photo
artists...archives of film and video, museums representing their
collections on the Net).  Now Net art is supposed to be the same, plus, that is to say: on-line galleries of off-line stuff plus a
small group of artists close to nettime, syndicate, or 7-11 mailing
lists, and to each other.

That's what one can see on the surface. What was going on inside?

Nothing that could make me feel that net artists' existence means
something in the world they create.


In fact, while I was thinking what to write about Internet art
structures, several Net galleries appeared and some on-line festivals
gave prizes to some artists. This looks like the birth of a new world;
maybe it is, and the time to judge has yet to come, but it's not
difficult to see destructive tendencies in these foundations.

On-line galleries and exhibitions are nothing more than lists,
collections of links. On one hand, it fits the nature of many-to-many
communication; the Internet itself is also only a collection of a lot of
computers, and it works. On the other hand, list by list compilation
brings us to an archive-like situation, to a story about keeping and
retrieving information. On-line galleries only store facts and
demonstrate that a phenomenon exists. They neither create a space, nor
really serve it.

The same applies to festivals and competitions. Even if they are
intelligently organised they are not events in net life. Mostly they are
not events at all but just the easiest and trendiest way to save money
given to media events. Now that everybody knows the Internet is our
paradise on earth, the long-awaited world without borders, visas,
flights or hotels, it is the best way to make your event international.

>From my point of view the most perceptive and valuable creative
structures around ARE Net artists' co-projects and curated initiatives.
Or they COULD BE, if they were not so closed and didn't provide an
ironic distance to the idea of creating a system.

In fact every Net artist or group in the process of creating a work
builds their own (and at the same time common, for everybody) system of
self-presentation and promotion, invents exhibiting spaces and events.
After all, it is in the nature of Net art to build the Net. But again
and again the worlds you create easily become an exhibiting object at
media art venues. Something that could be invaluable tomorrow is sold
for nothing today.


It is not only a problem of misunderstanding and misapprehension: I was
told by art-sale-experienced Net artists that since web space is
physically cheaper than canvas or videotape and since web pages are
something that every schoolgirl can make on her school computer, pieces
created and stored in the Net will be cheaper than whatever is made with
the aid of more complicated techniques and knowledge. Sounds logical.
Logical yet, until Net art is an export product, not a point of prestige
in the system of Internet values, not an item of commerce for those who
invest money in the Internet, for example.

Banks, big companies or simply rich guys have always bought pieces of
art for their collections or found it prestigious to sponsor artists.
Now they or their younger brothers spend enough money (at least in
Russia) to be well represented in the Net. Why not harness their
desires?  Why not advise them to collect, to buy and help develop the
art of the next century? ;)

Details and demo next time.

It's not only about money. And generally, the question of being paid for
net art is no different to the question of payment on the net at large.
Publishers, companies, advertisers and everyone else in the world are
scratching their heads about it. I talk about going further, exploring
the Net, not being prisoners of last year off line fashion.

It's not really my dream, but I'd prefer if tomorrow new net artists
would come and say: she made pieces good only for virtual offices, what
we do is real net art, underground, new wave, what ever. It's better
than if nobody comes (because where?), and if only media critics mention
that once there was a period in media art, when some media artists
experimented with computer nets.