Digital galleries, online trends and the post-internet world.
Take a peek at Rafaël Rozendaal’s website and you’ll instantly get captured the myriad of micro internet artworks the artist has shared with the world. Today, his website attracts 50 million visits per year.
But, why have I never heard of net.art before, you may be wondering?
You have probably seen iterations of Net Art — a term coined by Sloveian artist Vuk Cosic in 1995 — at least once in your life, but you’ve never imagined it to be as valuable as a Dalí painting. Internet art had an hard time trying to be considered as much as an art form as that which you can find in traditional brick-and-mortar galleries.
Internet art was a naive, vaguely defined, art trend that started out in the second half of the 90s. It has its roots in what we now know as Networked Art — even before the advent of the internet, artists were experimenting with electronic interconnectivity (e.g telematics, kinetic art, video art, and conceptual art).
Net Art often evaded museums and galleries and appeared exclusively on the internet or though other web protocols. The Internet was still relatively uncluttered at the time and very few people associated with art institutions were making use of the world wide web. This is one of the reasons why internet art never really crossed the boundary from experimental to mainstream practice.
An important reading on the history of Net Art is Rachel Greene’s Web Work: A History of Internet Art. It includes insights into pioneering examples of Net works by artists such as Jodi, Olia Lialina, Mongrel, and many others.
I believe Internet art, after having been overlooked for too long because of its intrinsic portability, to be now more alive than ever. The boundaries between what can and can’t be in a gallery have faded and artists can finally embrace the power of interconnectivity to form their practice. The internet as we experience it today has become canvas to hundreds of non-traditional concepts and ideas. It’s the era of not-very-well self-defining post-internet art.
While Net Art of the late 1990s used the Internet primarily as a medium, post-internet practices build on those earlier experiments using both online and offline formats like social media, mobile technology, digital branding, and infrastructures.
Francesco Imola is a London-based musician, weekend photographer, and current Sound Design student at the University of Greenwich.