Maybe artificial life seems like the subject of science fiction movie. But it's a lot more real than most of us realize: online "life forms" such as computer viruses that are transmitted via email are quite alive, mutating and reproducing independently once sinister programmers create them. Canadian net artist Cheryl Sourkes's "Field Guide to Artificial Life on the Web" clarifies what "boids" and "floys" are...and their wild cousins the computer viruses, of course.
Online auction site eBay continues to be a thought-provoking platform for artists. The latest: Keith Townsend Obadike's attempt at auctioning his blackness. Originally intended to be posted online from August 8-18, the listing was removed on August 12 by eBay officials, although a dozen bidders tried to participate in the sale (the highest proposition: $152.50). The project was the latest in a series of "Black.net.art" auctions presented by Obadike.
There's been so much hype in the past touting the Web's potential for true interactivity and creative exchange. But how easy has it been for artists of all media to access and share digital work online? Now there is an easy way to find and present video, audio, still images, and even source code to one's peers: a.Rss. Utilizing existing file-sharing technologies, such as Aimster or Gnutella, users simply type the prefix "rss_" in front of a file name, thus making it available anonymously. The best part: there's no extra software to install. Let the online art swapping -- and collaboration -- begin.
What designates a work of art as "new media," exactly? The answer might be found in a recently-published book, "The Language of New Media" (MIT Press, 2001), by new media scholar Lev Manovich. In the book, he is careful to distinguish between analog forms merely transposed to a digital version and truly new media, such as interfaces and database algorithms. Manovich also places more recent formats and platforms within an art historical context and a broader cultural continuum while simultaneously attempting to present a fresh vernacular. Thankfully, although he's an academic, Manovich presents his ideas in language that is anything but esoteric.
Michael Mandiberg has scanned photographs shot by noted artist Sherrie Levine in the late 1970s, taken of black and white documentary photographs of Depression-era Alabama sharecroppers originally photographed in 1936 by the legendary Walker Evans. Mandiberg has posted his digital photos, essentially reproductions of reproductions, on two Web sites he has created: AfterSherrieLevine.com and AfterWalkerEvans.com. The public is prompted to download and print Mandiberg's third-hand images along with a "certificate of authenticity" -- stating that the re-appropriated photographs are genuine Mandibergs. Printed out at 850 dpi, they have the same resolution as the Levine photographs, yet look almost exactly like the original Evans images. This conceptual work of net art forces us to question how we choose to value an image -- or not.
We all are aware of a Web site's name as it pops up in our browser. But how many of us know the secret identity of any given Web site -- the numerical IP address? Bay Area artist, curator, and scholar Lisa Jevbratt and her fellow members of the collective C5 are creating a database of IP addresses that serves as a non-narrative work of net art (entitled "1:1") that reminds viewers of the intricate, unseen design of the Web. At last count, two percent of the spectrum has been searched and 186,100 sites have been included.
Two recent trends: one, the blurring of boundaries between art, architecture, and a digital-age aesthetic; two, the internet as a site for symposia in which experts around the globe can participate in a round-the-clock roundtable discussion. Both trends collide with Artforum's recent online symposium, entitled "Art and Architecture in the Age of Design," featuring gallery owner Henry Urbach, Galia Solomonoff, partner at Open Office Art and Architecture Projects and Vito Acconci, artist and designer, among other notable figures. The postings are moderated by Philip Nobel, contributing editor for Metropolis magazine, contributor to the New York Times, Architectural Digest, Artforum, and essayist for a forthcoming book the New York firm LOT/EK. Don't worry if you're on summer vacation or missed the live posts. The symposium's archived (along with an earlier online discussion on digital art...)
Tonight, if you're in Los Angeles, stop by the Electronic Orphanage at 975 Chung King Road and witness the third installment of "Siggraph Nights," a preview of the net art component of the Tirana Biennale, entitled "10 Hours," which opens in Albania next month. Curator Miltos Manetas has assembled intriguing Web sites that range from the home pages of new media theorists (like Lev Manovich, author of the recently released book "The Language of New Media") to online art and design projects. The series continues through August 19th. It's for nightowls only: the events begin at midnight and end at 4 AM each night.