Some strategies for a theoretical Web 2.0 Net.Art

Posted by Eryk Salvaggio | Thu Jul 10th 2008 1:25 a.m.

Web 2.0 net.art (as opposed to net art 2.0) is summed up by the following code, to be pasted into any browser on any Web site:

javascript:document.body.contentEditable='true'; document.designMode='on'; void 0

I don't think anyone should underestimate what it means that anyone can edit anything on the Web until it suits them. The individual net.artist is obsolete. Legions of net.artists have replaced them, and they're called "users." And they are operating inside of pre-existing architecture: We Are All Graffiti Artists Now.

Web 2.0 Net.Art (W2.0N.A) is about providing a space on the network where the users can extend that creativity as well as edit and manipulate the work of others. Certainly, generating content will always be important, but remixing content is enough now to merit a free pass. One could be tempted to make another, more suitable Web lingo pun: Post Net.Art. Not because it's "after Net.Art" but because, like mail art was named for the mechanism that delivered that art, W2.0N.A is driven by "post" functions: Posting to a blog, posting to YouTube, posting to Facebook.

Open Source
In an environment using established architectures for truly interactive art, open source is crucial. Net Art that comes with a zip file of its components, and preferably with an upload ("post") function (or at least a link-to button) that can display what other people are doing with those zips. If the artist is working inside an architecture, that work needs to be shared as distinct components; if the artist is creating an architecture, it needs to be malleable.

Syndication
Syndication of work is another element, because it makes use of the "social user." But an RSS feed alone isn't malleable enough. I would question whether viral dissemination and syndication are the same, certainly, making use of viral dissemination is a key component, which is a neat new twist for defining Web 2.0 Net.art: It's almost gonna have to "go viral" to count. A piece of art that no one modifies or expands is DOA.

Social Media
Because W2.0N.A requires the network to exist, it can't exist in isolation from the social network. Which is why the 2.0 archetypes so far consists of "surf clubs" as opposed to "bloggers." A surf club comes with its own network built right in, so the evolving nature of the work is apparent. You post, it goes live, and the work enters into an environment rich with mutating agents willing to remix, expand, or ignore it.

Interaction
As a new medium, interaction with the work changes from passive observation to active manipulation of data: versioning, remixing, mashing up. This was a theoretical hallmark of the html art, but it was never a component of the art itself. More a passive by product. But the way people engage with the Web is different now (if this art were to have a revolutionary slogan to paint on walls, it would be "javascript: document.body.contentEditable='true'; document.designMode='on'; void 0"). Now we want to vote on the news we read, comment on blog posts, record "responses" to YouTube videos.

A Time-Based Medium.
W2.0N.A is a time-based medium where the time is always "immediately." Print, in contrast, exists over time; it acknowledges the past as stabe and "history" traditionally carries itself in the metaphors of print and film: History is a pre-determined, uneditable storyline. W2.0N.A is the deconstruction of all possible "finales," it goes on or it is abandoned. If it's a historical metaphor, it's for the emergence of democratic ideals as a final system and the end of inevitable histories. You don't like the ending? Build your own. Make the structure evolve. This is contrary to forgone conclusions in print. Novel as history, Internet as present.

What else?
  • A. Andreas | Thu Jul 10th 2008 7:50 p.m.
    I do not believe any of it

    Attaching art to a numbering system tied to a niche market thing , does not make sense, or it will be an exaggeration of hollow phrases, with no specific meaning at all.

    The point is that you are saying art is dead and what you call post = POST MORTEM as in DEATH

    So even WEB eternal numbering , lets call it KAPPA , is dead as WELL

    Lets celebrate that instead of chewing as a cow on dead words

    AA
    • eryk | Fri Jul 11th 2008 12:21 p.m.
      The numbering system doesn't exist in what I've described. I'm merely trying to make a distinction between "Net.Art 2.0" as a false-numbering thing, and Web 2.0 net.art, which is net.art parsed in the cultural and technological shifts to "Web 2.0."

      I'm not selling anything. I'm proposing strategies for working in an evolving online environment.

      Net.Art 1.0 suited me just fine.

  • A. Andreas | Fri Jul 11th 2008 7:05 p.m.
    eryk

    imho

    one should not mistake culture for art.

    culture is a very fragile and time bound social phenomenon, a kind of phenomenon that produces things like web 2.0 or internet and racial conflicts for that matter.

    art is something more difficult to grasp and has a certain timeless aspect.

    their seems to be a tendency , also in other rhizome discussions, to be fooled by this very mistake and as a consequence these discussions produce sound bites [1] which have no particular lasting value.

    i will be interested in a distinction between web 2.0 and bewt 0.2 tenart 4117 and not to forget betwen'art zero.
    for betwen'art zero is certainly a movement going beyond the social an cultural restrictions internet is posing on its receptors and digestors.

    [1] sound bite: A sound bite is an audiolinguistic and social communications phenomenon whose nature was recognized in the late 20th century, helped by people such as Marshall McLuhan. It is characterized by a short phrase or sentence that deftly captures the essence of what the speaker is trying to say. Such key moments in dialogue (or monologue) stand out better in the audience's memory and thus become the "taste" that best represents the entire "meal" of the larger message or conversation. Sound bites are a natural consequence of people placing ever greater emphasis on summarizing ever-increasing amounts of information in their lives. cf.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundbite

    AA

    • eryk | Sat Jul 12th 2008 2:01 a.m.
      I'm trying to say that territories for artists are expanding - and I'm providing a framework of strategies to deal with that expansion. The net is as radical a change for human beings as print was.

      Are you not buying novels because the printing press was a "marketing gimmick?" Would you be reluctant to have discussions about what writers could do with the printing press once, say, new fonts and layout possibilities were established? What about the way printed, mass-produced representations of images changed our relationship to images themselves? Are you going to tell me that the written word didn't evolve as our relationship with print evolved? What makes the Internet different? If not different, then why shouldn't artists explore the territories that open up before them?

      As the technology of the web breaks down the rigidity of print, and as interaction and malleability become the cultural norm for information, art is going to adapt because humans are going to adapt. Understanding the complexity of that merits consideration that extends beyond the "sound byte."

      Which, by the way, "art is timeless" certainly is. Not only is it a soundbyte, it's also completely wrong. All art dies. Art on the Web dies fastest. It's the medium. Photographs fade, paint bleaches, information disintegrates.

      Nonetheless, trying to understand a medium's growth doesn't make art less durable. Quite the opposite.
  • A. Andreas | Sat Jul 12th 2008 6:46 a.m.
    Eryk

    As a painter I dislike acrylic on canvas as I do not like the plastic and industrial materiality of it.

    But I will not propagate the use of oil on canvas.

    The same goes with other media.

    Surviving lays in producing works of art, even if they are dead born childs.

    Developping strategies is something else than producing works of art.

    Being part of a 'new' cultural norm is frightening me and reminds me of other social revolutions which causes the world enormous harm.

    So I say no to the dictatorship of interactivity, social web 2.0, user participation.

    No more MORTE

    So excuse me for offending you,but I think I am a more practical guy.

    AA
  • eryk | Sun Jul 13th 2008 12:35 a.m.
    Yes, that dictatorship of empowerment is really going to knock the wind out of our sails.
  • cf | Mon Jul 14th 2008 11:42 a.m.
    I don't think history is uneditable. It is rewritten all the time, in relation to present-day concerns. You're saying web2.0 net.art represents a democratic ideal? They said the same about video in the late 1960s/ early 1970s. Anything can be and is coopted in a capitalist system.
    • eryk | Tue Jul 15th 2008 1:36 a.m.
      My point is that print media re-enforces the idea that history isn't editable and that its future is a foregone conclusion. The Web challenges that idea by allowing rewrites. I'm not making a personal statement on my preference of ideologies, I'm stating that the message in and of each medium is different.

      The Web represents a democratic ideal. Web 2.0 net.art isn't anything more than the Web. And the Web is changing, and it is reflecting more open, malleable interaction. So art should consider reflecting that.

      I'm not sure what people are reading.
  • JWW | Fri Jul 11th 2008 4:51 a.m.
    i see what you did there
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