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Net Aesthetics 2.0 Panel



Some interesting things that came up during the panel:

-- Outsider Imagery -- The widespread influence of what one of the artist's (Michael Bell-Smith) called 'internet folk art' -- animated gifs, avatars, personal blogs, home pages, mashups, game sprites, etc. All of the individual quirky production of gazillions of internet users. If you include webcams in that list, then all of the artists on the panel used some of these elements and aesthetics.

-- Nostalgia -- Caitlin Jones brought up the question of whether most of the work had an aspect of nostalgia for earlier (more utopian?) technological times (sometimes just a few years ago) -- all the artists resisted this idea, saying pretty much that it was just too hard to keep up with the absolute now of the internet, and that using aesthetic elements which were a few years in the past was just a side effect of this. Despite that, once the idea of nostalgia was in the air, it was hard to dismiss.

-- The Sublime -- interestingly the Sublime was somehow connected (during the discussion) with being in a gallery (as opposed to being online -- is that the mundane?) -- And as MTAA mentioned on their blog post (http://www.mteww.com/mtaaRR/news/mriver/ rhz_field_trip.html ) there was an amazing mashup on the projector for a good long time with the wikipedia entry for the sublime interrupted by manic (and gorgeous) jodi.org black and white pop-up windows. Sublime indeed. Other candidates for the sublime were Marisa Olson's & Abe Linkoln's universal acid videos (which you can see at http://www.universalacid.net/ ) , Michael Bell-Smith's video Continue (not online, but there's a still at http://www.foxyproduction.com/artist/workview/5/169 ) and Cory Archangel's classic Super Mario Clouds.

-- Memes -- on the internets, no one can hear you unless you meme. Cory Archangel brought up the need for his online work to be meme- able, and also the idea that he keeps his internet work what he called 'fey' -- meaning that it has to function in the non-art context of someone running across it while at work etc. where it's "just a website". Internet artworks have to survive without the hushed chapel of the gallery, competing with all the other information & detritus, and amusement online. One of the strategies internet artworks use as a survival tool is to be meme-able.

-- The Game -- to roughly quote Michael Connor "The last thing you want to tell somebody is that the Superbowl is just a game -- 'turn that off, it's just a game'. Art isn't just a game. It's a *game*." Meaning that the fact the art world is a play space, and that art is a kind of game doesn't make it any less serious, if anything it makes it more serious. I believe he used the word 'transcendent'. There's that sublime again.

-- 2.0 -- No one on the panel really thought we were at a 2.0 moment, but I wonder if we might be without knowing it. To me the interesting element of what's usually called web 2.0 is the shift from websites as spaces of presentation towards websites as genuinely social spaces. Most of the panelists worked in the (very extended) tradition of video, so we didn't really see the other side of net art, the really networked, collaborative end of things which is a much a part of net art as what might be visible on a screen.

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