Will Gompertz on Net Art

BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz writes the following about net-based art:

"It's interesting that, as far as I am aware, no contemporary artist has yet harnessed this extraordinary technology to make a significant artwork. Of course, maybe I'm wrong and am missing something great - do you know of any net-based art works that are worth a look? Maybe you have made one (an artwork made specifically for the medium, as opposed to a film such as the one above, which uses the net only as a means of dissemination)? If you, like me, can't find any net-based art of note, why do you think that is? Why, when there's been such a boom in contemporary art around the world, has no artist made the medium of the web his or her canvas? And if someone were to use the net as a medium, as opposed to making an image, or a video, or even an interactive Flash animation, what would the resulting art look, or sound, or feel like?"

As with many things that are relatively new, there is a general lack of awareness surrounding internet-based art: how its defined, how to find it, how it operates, and so on. Internet art is also troubled by a problem of perpetual discovery: while its history evolves, it is often not elaborated, but instead rediscovered, again and again, by the critical establishment.

As the above comments by BBC's arts editor demonstrate, this moment of discovery can be wonderful, but its also glaringly ignorant of an important field that has been thriving for nearly two decades now. Gompertz also lays claim to a rather inverted sense of how the boom operates. He assumes that a boom in contemporary art would leverage net art; on the contrary, a boom doesn't elevate practices that aren't associated with high price-tags, it pushes them further to to the margins. This is a situation that makes it even more urgent for critics, curators and organizations to locate these practices, learn about them, support them and bring them to the forefront. Its unnecessary to tell this readership that the artist mentioned by Gompertz, Celeste Boursier-Mourgenot, is only one of a countless range of artists engaging with the participatory nature of the web. But, it does raise a larger question: Perhaps one positive side of the bust is that more critics might step back and look at work not (or not yet) squarely within the art market.

While I won't single out any artists here, I suggest that Gompertz spend some time looking at this website, and many others, like VVORK, Turbulence or Furtherfield, that promote an incredible range of internet-based art, as well as new methods through which artists are collecting and promoting each others work. When looking, I hope he will not try to find instances or reinforcements of Duchamp, but rather be open to new kinds of practices. 2010 is a very exciting moment in art, online and off, if you can see it.

Will Gompertz's blog post via Radiovisual