Response to INTERNET ART
By: Rachel Greene

Early Internet art, as any novel media that has yet to be explored, was about experimentation. It was about stretching and breaking molds in order to express one's ideas and emotions. Unlike other art forms, the Internet was inherently set up for collaboration and sharing, for communication and feedback across borders, and for blurring even the concept of art itself by testing whether text itself could be an artform. While originally there were some clear restraints, artists of the time managed to work surprisingly well. As the reading stated, "Even beyond its text-heavy aesthetic, the net elided evidence of being an easy or refined venue for artistic production. It's ability to realize international and relatively inexpensive communication and exchange, however, was potent" (Greene, 33). Based on the reading, it has become evident that, as an artistic medium, the net contains a potential unlike other art forms, as it is constantly evolving and expanding at such a quick pace. To think that less than 25 years ago, in the 1990's net artists were reliant on solely websites, e-mail, graphics, audio, video and animation is mind-blowing. And the work that they were creating was beyond even their time. For example, there was Heath Bunting's website King's Cross Phone In (1994), which he used to relay "web functionality into friendly phone calls from around the world"(34). It is clear to me that the very complex idea of a flash mob, while stated to have originated in 2003, is in fact fundamentally rooted in Bunting's rather simple piece.

In addition to Bunting, I was quite impressed by the work of Olia Lialina. Her project, My Boyfriend Came Back From the War(1996), was so animated, and at the same time dramatic, for being created during what would be called the period of early Internet art. In addition to the lack of color, the use of frame programming makes the narrative come to life, almost as if the website was a film.

While Bunting and Lialina had very different methods of interacting with the viewer, Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans (JODI) collaborated to create even less direct and more abstract pieces of art; rather, their work "appeared muddled, impersonal and impenetrable" at first glance(40). A wonderful example of this was their website: http://wwwwwwwww.jodi.org/. Only when viewing the source code does what seems to be gibberish become traditional images and diagrams.

Lastly, it is essential that I stress the fact that many of these early projects were political as well as interactive. They asked the viewer more than to act, but to think critically and question the environments, both real and virtual, that were quickly transforming before their eyes. Such pieces as Cosic's fake CNN site, Shulgin's Link X and Bunting's _readme.html led the way to questions about appropriation and ownership in our new digital age, as information became accessible (and modifiable) at the touch of a button, a simple copy and paste.

` 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - = delete
tab Q W E R T Y U I O P [ ] \
caps_lock A S D F G H J K L ; ' return
shift Z X C V B N M , . / shift
fn ctrl option command _______________ command enter home page up ___ page down end