This article was written for 'Content-Type' in 2001, which I conceived of as an idea virus, later as the site evolved, I was to think of these texts as symptomatic of the Media/Art Identity Crisis in style of delivery.
"...the net is a tricky space for organisations oriented around neatly provenanced objects locked into standard issue art modes..." *1 [Matthew Fuller]
It is obvious that public relationships with net art have entered a new phase. Prix Ars Electronica have just announced their new concept for the net category 2001 : "Net Vision/ Net Excellence". This category, which was originally initiated in 1995, will now cover pretty much all activities on the net rather than net art and innovative web sites : "Arts & Culture, Politics, Society, Business & Economy, Entertainment, Media, Technology, Science. Each of these fields of activity is subdivided into narrower thematic entities..." *2 The Net Vision category will cover "projects that are striking in their anticipative and innovative way of dealing with the online medium." Presumably net art will be categorised under this section.
Net Excellence covers "projects that are compelling because of the originality of their content and creative use of state-of-the-art applications." *3 Technical innovation is presumably addressed in this category. Whatever the motivation behind this redefinition of the Net category, it implies a watering down of the Net awards, "For the first time, two Golden Nicas and four Awards of Distinction will be awarded for outstanding cultural impact on the Internet."*4 While the Interactive Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects categories don't imply this kind of fuzzy logic, Net Vision/ Net Excellence sounds somewhat unwieldy. It seems that net art will have to compete for a place in the awards. It's as though digital artisanship and entrepreneurialism threaten to overwhelm net art practice rather than coexist with it.
Net art is rapidly being repositioned within the broader cultural context of museums, exhibitions and festivals, where there seems to be a kind of redeployment of its initial immaterial qualities into public locations and shared but mediated outcomes. As Matthew Fuller says, though, "The action goes on independently" *5, within the networks taking "part in a process of producing clusters of data, of signs, but [to] not pretend or even hope to have any determining control over their outcomes: data can be moved and data can be mutated."*6
Meanwhile, in an announcement for the Pandemonium digital arts festival, it is clear that new strategies are emerging for exhibiting and incorporating the online digital arts in the UK. Their 'ARTS ONLINE EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES COMMISSIONS', funded by the Arts Council of England's 'Arts Online', include : "work by hi-res! (www.hi-res.net), k10k.net (www.k10k.net), Eline McGeorge and the festival online diary by Ellen Pronk (www.lfs.nl)." *7 These works all incorporate the net as a definitive medium for the people involved, but all excede the limits of the net for the purposes of the gallery context.
Sarah Thompson 21..02.01
*1 Art meet Net, Net meet Art, Matthew Fuller, http://www.tate.org/webart/mat1.htm
*2 Ars Electronica 2001 - 1st Announcement, Ars Electronica Center, 16.02.01
*3 Ars Electronica 2001 - 1st Announcement, Ars Electronica Center, 16.02.01
*4 RHIZOME_RARE, Is there room for net art in the new Ars? Alex Galloway, 16.02.01
*5 Art meet Net ...
*6 Art meet Net ...
*7 RHIZOME_RARE, re: pandemonium Digital Arts Festival, Anita, 18.02.01
Ars Electronica 2001, September 1-6 2001, Linz, Austria, http://www.aec.at/festival2001/
Pandemonium Digital Arts Festival, http://www.pandemonium.org.uk
ARTS ONLINE EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES COMMISSIONS, 52 Hoxton Square, 12.00 - 7.00 2-9 March