[NetBehaviour] Netart 2.0 is not net.art

Pall Thayer pallthay at gmail.com
Wed Apr 2 13:55:48 CEST 2008

Hi Z,
Thanks for the interesting comments. I'd like to  point out again that a
manifesto is not by any means a formal, logical philosphical argument. It is
a personal declaration of opinions and/or intentions. By saying this I'm not
trying to stave off any discourse but merely pointing out that this is not
intended to describe or define a collective body of work other than my own.
However I do welcome any and all comments and am truly interested in hearing
how these ideas fit into (or don't fit into) other artists' practice.

Netart 2.0 is not net.art
> Do you mean net art? web art? internet art? When I read the following
> text, I get the feeling you understand the creative net started with the
> web. There have been works done before (e.g. using news groups and
> FirstClass communities), and these well before 1991 and I feel the
> distinction is necessary for the coherence of a manifesto that would speak
> to novice but also old-timers. The web's just the tip of the history of
> online art and I am not sure I understand well what you are focusing on.
> When you speak about casual internet users, I believe you mean web, and
> mass-media-like consumers. But then again you state in a further point that:
> 'Netart 2.0 is not dependent upon The World Wide Web'. I'm a bit stuck there
> in the comprehension of your text.

Here I am referring to net.art (net-dot-art) as the work of a very specific
group of artists in the early to mid 90's that coined the term as their own.
I don't recall who they all were but the ones I remember were Vuc Cosic, Lev
Manovich (I think), Olia Lialina and Alexei Shulgin. It's not a negative
comment on their work but merely a reminder that Internet based art hasn't
stayed grounded within the early work of these individuals. It has
progressed to a degree that warrants re-consideration on its own merits. I'm
not by any means denying the significance of this earlier work, just
pointing out that Internet-based art has evolved.

> Netart 2.0 is dynamic
> By that I understand you mean the content is dynamically generated
> acording to both the human and the machine context, giving life to a
> creative avatar. Again, it seems essential to me that if you're speaking of
> the web, since the early years net art was dynamic. In fact it was already
> before the web, thought there weren't as many viewers-consumers to check it
> out and the communities where more focused and less generalist. It is true
> the trend is towards more than an simple html web page collection including
> hyperlinks, but this doesn't seem enough to define a second generation of
> net art, or at least not like that.

I'm not limiting my statements to the Web. The Internet is much more than
the web. Try this for instance; If you're using Mac OS X, open the terminal
application, type: telnet anmo.iu.liss.org 4000 then hit return. After a
short while the window will begin displaying a bunch of nonsense. What
you're seeing is live seismic data (in binary form) being transmitted over
the Internet. This transmission has nothing to do with the web. Here's
another thing to try that will make a bit more sense. In a terminal window
type: telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl and hit return. Again, this has nothing
to do with the Web but is being streamed over the Internet.

Regarding the "dynamic". Not too many years ago, work that was built around
the artist creating a number of static HTML pages and linking them together
internally, was considered Netart. That can be said to be dynamic in a sense
as it is action-based but eventually you will find yourself in an unchanging
loop. Today, with the general public constantly pouring new content into the
Internet and the linking of measuring and recording equipment to the
Internet (as in the seismic data sample above) the work can be much more
dynamic with the action being mixed with live, real-time data in a way that
the work constantly evolves into something else, never repeating itself.

> Netart 2.0 cannot function without an active network connection
> I don't understand how you can talk about net art without the net. You may
> have a representation of net art that is disconnected but it will just be
> that, a passive representation of net art and not net art. I believe you
> might misunderstand net art 1.0 as software art or multimedia.

A lot of work has been produced that gives the appearance of being
dynamically linked to the Internet but isn't really. I'm referring for
instance to Flash movies and websites that could essentially be downloaded
in their entirety and run locally with no Internet connection at all. I gave
a talk once at the art academy here in Iceland where I explained this by
giving a few examples. For instance, I located a Flash movie in
Rhizome.org's artbase that was labeled as Netart, ran it once while
connected to the Internet, then downloaded it to my computer, unplugged the
ethernet cord and ran the Flash movie again. It ran just as well as when I
was connected. There is a lot of other work that will stop functioning as
soon as you disconnect from the Internet. I'm saying that that is Netart
2.0, the other work essentially just uses the Internet for distribution.

> Netart 2.0 may or may not be interactive
> In my understanding net art requires a network to be, therefore an
> interaction between at least two entities (human or machine). I believe the
> term 'viewer' needs a better definition for your manifesto. Also,on the
> internet there is required interaction as it is a fundamental of even the
> earliest web pages (hypertext). Interactivity is what generated net art.

OK, let's refer then to the "viewer" as "the person experiencing the work."
That person does not need to interact with the work. The work can be
interacting internally with data accessible over the network. And again, you
refer here to "web pages" whereas the Internet is far more extensive than
that. Yes, the work is interactive in the sense that it is interacting with
network but more often than naught, when people use the term "interactive"
they are referring to the ability of those experiencing the work to
influence it through interactivity. It's part of the experience as well as
the production. I'm essentially saying that it can be part of the production
without being part of the experience.

> Netart 2.0 may or may not be accessible on-line
> Do you mean there can be an offline network for net art to exist? And does
> the real-world correspond to this new environment for net art 2.0? (I have a
> small definition of web 3.0 as 'the biological, digital analog web where
> information is made of a plethora of digital values coalesced for sense and
> linked to the real-world by analog interfaces' on
> http://www.zzz.ch/bootymachine/web3.0/  , maybe it can relate to this, I'd
> be happy to get your feedback).

What I mean here is that the result of the work, what the public
experiences, doesn't have to be experienced over the Internet, i.e. on a
webpage. It can be a gallery installation consisting of a computer or
computers connected to the Internet, extracting data to produce the work.
There is a common assumption that all Netart can be experienced from the
solitude and comfort of one's home. This is not always the case. A lot of
the work of Jonah Brucker-Cohen is a good example of this.

In a way, you could say that this touches on your discussion about the
evolution of the web. I think you're right in that we will be experiencing
more of the Internet in our "biological" surroundings especially with the
growing ubiquity of wireless connections and small, simple devices that are
capable of using them. I heard about a group recently that built a
wifi-enabled webserver that they called "The Fly" because it wasn't much
larger than a fly.

> Netart 2.0 is not science
> Here, I don't understand why and how you can exclude the science in net
> art (or online art). Basically working with media protocols to put the work
> online already induces a bias in the work that just doesn't make it
> artist-only-created. All who creates using these tools know what the
> limitations inherent to protocols can do to the creative process, and to me
> it is part science not to be random noise (even if it is beautiful noise).
> My personal view is that you can simply not say that of any net art, as
> there is automatically some part of science in the use of language.

Based on what you say here then painting is science as well, as is pottery
and a variety of other forms of artistic creation. The way I see it, the
ultimate goal of science is to provide answers that are as infallible as
possible. Art does just the opposite. If it attempts to answer anything at
all, it usually does so in a much more suggestive manner. More often though,
it suggests questions. I think that artists tend to work in a much more
chaotic and fluid manner than scientists. Scientists are methodical,
cataloging everything that happens along the way. Perhaps some artists do
this as well but for me, science has no more to do with the way I create my
art than what it has to do with i.e. painting. The sciences provide the
materials but that's where the relationship ends. One of the reasons I
pointed out the seismic data above is that I'm currently creating a piece
that uses live, real-time seismic data obtained over the Internet. It really
doesn't matter to me what the numbers I receive mean. My handling of them
within the framework is entirely qualitative. What matters to me is how they
affect the resulting visuals. Yes, an actual earthquake will produce the
most dramatic results in the work but what that means as far as the tectonic
plates go, doesn't matter to me at all. So I'm using scientific readings in
a very non-scientific way and I can do that because my artwork is not

> Finally, I just want to say I really don't see much in your manifesto that
> defines 'newness' from what net art is (I mean v1.0). Most of what you state
> was already there since a long time, but it is true most casual-viewers'
> online experience dates only from a few years at max. Maybe there should
> first be a manifesto to better define net art 1.0 ?

You are correct. These points I mention have been around for a long time
now. But until now I don't know of anyone who has specifically discussed
these points in this manner in an attempt to define their work and that's
why I wrote it.

best r.

> Thanks again for your thoughts, the discussion is indeed very interesting!
> :)
> Z
>  Bootymachine www.bootymachine.net
> experimental groove experiment
> bootymachine at bootymachine.net
> Le 1 avr. 08 à 13:00, netbehaviour-request at netbehaviour.org a écrit :
> Netart 2.0: A Manifesto of Variable Manifestation
> Initial draft October 18, 2006
> Netart 2.0 is not net.art
> ++The internet has changed a lot in recent years. Casual Internet
> users have become content producers as well as content consumers.
> These shifts in the way the public uses the internet is reflected in
> more recent netart.
> _______________________________________________
> NetBehaviour mailing list
> NetBehaviour at netbehaviour.org
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Pall Thayer
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