Josephine Bosma on 15 Feb 2001 20:49:38 -0000

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<nettime> Re: [Nettime-bold] Re: net art history

josephine starrs wrote:

> we in 'vns matrix' (cyberfeminist artist group) were making interactive
> artworks and text based performances on the internet pre web days.... as
> were i always thought the term should have been
> as this genre of art only came about with the introduction of the
> world wide web to the internet.

It is a common misunderstanding to think net art started when the term was first used. It has been important to emphasize the works
within for a while though, as at that time (1996/1997) art on
the net became something art historians and curators started to get
interested in (I guess it was maybe at that time that the net and web
started to grow fast/become really crowded), but in the first texts I've
seen they mentioned works and artists that were very different from what
for instance Tilman Baumgaertel and yours truly (and others too!) saw
around us. It was always Jenny Holzer, Julia Scher at most... A lot of had a very different feel, and it could have very easily missed
the boat (of recognition). I would prefer not to get into a discussion
about how it might have been better for this art NOT to have been
recognised, which is an opinion I find total nonsense and I am fed up
with it. 
Confusing net art with web art is a horror in my point of view. But this
confusion comes also from the fact that, regardless of how some
net.artists or fans of old like to proclaim, the discourse
around net art is still developing. Don't forget we are mostly
developing this discourse online (there is very little room for it in
the printed and other media, apart from some very badly distributed
books which mostly cover aspects, bits and pieces), within a very broad
'community', where it is constantly surrounded by a lot of noise (people
still claiming net art has no quality, claiming a clear beginning and
end of it, an older new media generation (by far not all of them thank
god) feeling passed by works they cannot appreciate or maybe even
understand etc etc). There have been texts about net art which show,
often between words, that the term net art really came later then the
'methods' of working within net art themselves. It would be ever so
pleasant if that fact would be used in a positive sense towards the
specific artworks, and would give these practices a chance to connect
with art history in their own right: recognition of their specificity
-and- their relatedness at the same time. 
The term net art is so confusing that many have tried to find a new
term, but I have never really heard one that covered art in a networked
society better then net art. I also feel it is important to keep the
word 'net' in for reasons of media politics/tactical media use, which
are of course of great importance to art practice in this context. It
would be too easy to ignore the importance of what the net has brought
people (which artists still also are) in terms of playfullness, media
access and 'media awareness'. This might all sound like a lot of fuss
over terminology only, but at the moment such a fuss is clearly still
> i was recently at an event where some of these artists were calling
> themselves 'the fathers of'
> ....i guess the 'father's of' doesn't sound quite as sexy, but i
> think you art historians should maybe point out the difference in your
> texts as you assign male authorship in your art discourses as you have
> throughout history.

It is -very- understandable the words 'the fathers of' make you
either fall from your chair laughing or crinch with embarrassment. I
have never heard anyone use it. The point you make is interesting, but
you are not suggesting we point at a female authorship in this case? The
history of net art does not really have a clear starting point to begin
with (if we include all kinds of forerunners throughout art history). Is
that female enough? (just kidding)



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