Net Art is a two-day exhibition of works by Polish and foreign artists, addressing the issues of digital space in their works. WRO Art Center in cooperation with Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MoCAK) presents 11 works created by means of and in relation to network – from video realisations, through interactive installations, to net projects.
It is the second presentation of the exhibition – this time in the Krakow-Nowa Huta Culture Centre (al. Jana Pawła II 232 / The Czarna Galeria CENTRUM). The first presentation was part of the program of the Open Eyes Economy Summit – Internationl Congress of the Economy of Values on November 14-15,2017 in the ICE Krakow Congress Centre.
curators: Maria Anna Potocka (MoCAK), Piotr Krajewski (WRO Art Center)
coordination: Dominika Kluszczyk, Agnieszka Sachar
Net Art Manifesto
The internet has established an alternative world. By the same token, the practice of net art transports the artist into another reality, with different principles of constructing images, using information and contact with the viewer. Moreover, different value strategies apply. The markers of value in the net art rankings are the extent of viewer involvement and the creative territory on offer to the audience. Net art is reminiscent of a form of artistic activity in public space: it seeks
out partner participation and cares little for the respect and distance afforded to works of art in museums. Thus, the internet sets its own principles of social interaction. Online there is no market, no museum academia or talent sycophants. Online, artistic action is not so much a creative act as an intervention. Thinking in terms of closed and finite images is anathema to net art. In fact, a work of net art is ‘no more than’ an open proposal, an invitation to join in the act of creation and
a shared analysis of a phenomenon; it is a tool that makes it possible to look at a particular problem and confront it with the views of others. Allowing the viewer to participate in direct discussion is a phenomenal aspect of net art. The internet has given art viewers the space to express their opinions and create their own visions of the problem.
We have all moved to the alternative space of the internet, or at least
dipped our toes in it. To paraphrase L.P. Hartley’s well-known bon mot related to the past, one could say that the internet is a foreign country; they do things differently there. For humankind to function in two different realities is nothing new – the majority of people have lived parallel lives in the real world and a mystical reality of whichever religion. Today, it is the internet that has become the dominant parallel universe – a world that, like all others, requires interpretation and critical management. No wonder then that artists have taken this world on board.
Maria Anna Potocka
Net + Art
There are two artistic modi operandi that illustrate the relationship between art and the internet, and in particular the presence of artworks online. Firstly, the internet lends itself readily to the presentation of existing artworks, such as digital reproductions of paintings or sculptures, as well as music files or films. There are few works nowadays that cannot be viewed online; however, even when their online exploration takes on a more sophisticated form such as a virtual museum tour, it always functions in lieu of direct contact with the inaccessible original. Online art proper, however, denotes artworks that require the internet for them to come into being and that are only capable of a digital existence, thanks to computer
programs and algorithms as well as the potential of the internet for communication and interaction conducive to building social relationships and requiring active participation of users.
This specific art form has been present on the internet for over two decades and is thus a fairly recent sphere of activity in digital media. Its aesthetics and manifestations depend not only on its author or authors but also on the technical possibilities provided by the digital medium itself as well as the activities taken up by its users.
In the early 1990s, the Internet – still written with a capital ‘I’ at the time – was a space that demanded to be filled with content – a still developing technical infrastructure for which it was necessary to find not so much appropriate forms of art but rather a social purpose for it to serve together with an equitable economic system that would regulate such a service. Since the first computer networks grew out of systems evolved in the USA for specific military tasks and space research, the question of their cultural content could only arise after these networks had been made available to be used by selected universities in order to boost the effectiveness of their academic research. Due to its technological limitations, the internet was less an artistic arena than the subject of scientific, academic and artistic speculation, a place where ideas grew and were bandied about and new social concepts hatched. It seemed that the development of the infrastructure of the internet and the enabling of wide social access to the knowledge and means of mass communication available would, by providing a new field for the creativity of individuals and societies, be a tool par excellence for the global development of democracy.
The year 1993 marked the historic beginning of the internet as a brand new mass medium. The WWW, World Wide Web protocol created in CERN by Tim Berners-Lee and made available online free of charge, was the birth of multimedia forms of communication. In 1990, there were some 313 thousand computers linked into the web and capable of interchanging texts, the results of calculations and program
commands; by 1996 the number had grown to 10 million. Now the new medium had the scope for transmitting content that combined text with visual and sound material. The number of internet users expanded exponentially and its social function as well as the role it played in culture, economy and management took shape.
Groups of artists and activists tried to take part in this elemental process by experimenting not only with new forms of art but above all with the field of communal activity that was opening before them, which they saw as an opportunity for a new, online form of culture. In contrast to the consumer mechanisms that governed mass culture supplied by such media as the TV and cinema, online culture was supposed to be based on participation and shared creativity. For this
reason, internet artists did not so much create complete artworks but rather initiated processes intended to be taken up creatively by other online users. They hoped that their activity would strengthen reflection on the differentiated potential of the new medium and create an alternative to the rapidly increasing commercialisation of the internet.
Today, when the number of online users has almost reached four billion people, the internet has become a different entity, brimming with content, innovation and alive with interpersonal relationships. Its mechanisms touch upon most areas of human activity. As a mobile tool and simultaneously a multidimensional environment filled with digital beings and procedures, the internet has affected the way that individuals and societies experience the world. It is the sphere of a mass flow of data, advertising, selling and management as well as the imposition of economic and
political relationships together with transmission of cultural models, in which social media are today the most eye-catching element.
Artists and works
Anna Płotnicka + Paweł Janicki, Performance on Demand
Magdalena Angulska, @ladyincorpo
Vuk Ćosić, History of Art for Airports
Roberto Fassone, Valeria Mancinelli, The Importance of Being Context
Alek Janicki, Po-widoki
Alexei Shulgin, Fuck Me Fuck You