Hello, world! In this episode of the Armchair Art Historian
series, I want to combine me sitting here and talking about art with the real art
experience. Consider it as going to the museum in parallel
to surfing the Internet or playing video games or whatever that you do on the Internet. Because this museum is online. No worries, I do not suggest you taking a
virtual tour to the Uffizi Gallery or get stuck with the Google Arts and Culture projects. Although, this is not the worst way of spending
your time. And you know what is really great about this
online museum? Is that you are a curator. As the title of this video clearly states,
I am going to talk about Internet art. So you can enjoy authentic artworks in the
place where it belongs. But before you start building your own museum,
let’s figure out what it all means. On the surface, it is rather simple. Internet art is art based on Internet
or made with available Internet technologies. Note that we have witnessed one of the fastest
appropriation of medium by the artists. Internet as a concept appeared in early 60th
of the last century and intermingled into our daily life in a short 20 years. A decade later visual artists got around to
the Internet not just as an instrument of communication and one’s online presence,
they discovered infinite possibilities of the artistic expression. The beauty of the Internet is that it allows
interconnected creation, sharing, and consumption of its products. Artists find this particular idea the most
important. Take, for instance, Olia Lialina from Russia,
who was standing at the avant-garde of this art movement. In 1996 she created a project My Boyfriend
Came Back from the War. It is a narrative website that reveals the
dialog between two fictional characters. No matter which replies you chose, the whole
conversation doesn’t work out well. Part of this failure is our own choice, and
part is deliberately irrational but still possible answers that artist encoded in it. My Boyfriend Came Back from the War has no
hidden political message or pacifistic purpose, as it can be expected in the 90th of the 20th
century, during the active warfare in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Caucasus and
the number of civil wars in Africa. We have to try to look at it separately from
the context. As a lexical item, as a phrase, My Boyfriend
Came Back from the War sounds like a poetry, cause it has its own rhythm. That is what actually Olia Lialina meant: “…I always
wanted to complete it as a poem, but the next lines never came.” You might think there is something wrong with
my Internet connection since some images upload quite slow. But no, everything is fine. Olia intentionally slowed down the loading
time to give you this sense of the Web 1.0. However, it is not just a cute throwback to
the inception of the Internet, as she comments: “I wanted to make something that people
would spend time with and look at in the browser. This was also possible back then because the
connection was much slower….” In some artworks, however, it is hard to find
even a slight reference to the storytelling. In 1995 a group of two artists JODI, which
is an abbreviation of their names Joan Heemskerk from the Netherlands and Dirk Paesmans from
Belgium launched their website http://wwwwwwwww.jodi.org. Boundless labyrinth of the webpages, linked
to each other, create billions of different paths and hence billions of experiences. It is as in the previous example up to you
where it will lead you. Honestly, I was very surprised to find a lot
of videos on Youtube of people surfing the JODI website under the title The Scariest
Website in the World or something like Creepy Review of the JODI Website. Because it is not scary nor mysterious
nor dangerous. It is pure meditation, searching one’s track
and constantly asking yourself: what do I see? Try it yourself and I am sure you will find
something interesting. For example, I found a digital rain. Depending on where and how fast I click these
little digital drops, the speed, and intensity change respectively. Of course, artists do not limit themselves
by building websites only. One of the absolute favorites is making a
bot. How about the bot that randomly buys stuff
on Amazon? This idea occurred to the American Internet artist
Darius Kazemi. “…and this was an algorithm that I gave
a $50 Amazon Gift Card to, once in a month. And it would buy me stuff at random on Amazon
and ship it directly to me and then I find out what it sends me.” The results of the online shopping Darius
posted every month on his Tumblr blog with the photo of the object he received, a short
description of what it is and also his reflection on the order. If you think it is a completely stupid idea,
think about it once again while ordering something on the Internet or even buying something offline. In some way, his artwork criticizes our relationship
with capitalism, in which nothing actually has changed, we still tend to buy some useless
stuff at any point in our life. Darius just made this point random and hand
over responsibility to the algorithm. As a continuation of this idea, or maybe even
as a mock, Zurich and London based group of contemporary artists !MEDIENGRUPPE BITNIK
built another shopping bot that is called Random Darknet Shopper. The same idea with a slight difference. This bot has an equivalent of $100 in Bitcoins
in its disposal and should place orders in so-called Darknet. As a result, artists received fake brand clothes,
different types of drugs, forged papers and even email addresses. Targeting another market, artists unveil the
bitter truth of the demand for forgery and fraud, permanent existence of the other side
of the coin. The main similarity of many existing bots
is that they perform human activities. But where there is a bot behaving like a human,
there is a human behaving like a bot. Jacob Bakkila and Thomas Bender are creators
of two controversial accounts that you’ve probably never heard of. Nothing wrong with that though. Jacob Bakkila took over the existing Twitter
account/bot called Horse_ebooks in 2011. At that point, the bot has posted thousands
of tweets featuring the name of the book and the link to the eponymous website, where this
book can be bought. Occasionally bot didn’t work quite well,
that is why titles are broke sometimes, not logically finished or not titles at all. Anyways, Jacob set up a goal to act just like
a bot, which entails posting random book titles or book descriptions in
a random time. In his interview with Vice, he says: “What’s
interesting is that spambots on Twitter don’t want to appear automated. To be more convincing, they want to appear
like humans. So it’s machines impersonating human biorhythmic
schedules. What I did was impersonate a machine’s impersonation
of a human. It would’ve been easier to do it every hour
on the hour. But it had to be in a simulation of what a
machine imagines our schedules are.” In the meantime, his crime partner Thomas
Bender launched a Youtube Channel The Pronunciation Book, where he regularly posted how to say
some words…that people sometimes are struggling to pronounce. And some words… just for fun. The culmination of both projects was reached
on September 24, 2013, when Horse_ebooks tweets the link to The Pronunciation Book video on
how to pronounce Horse_ebooks. The next tweet is a telephone number that
connected curious callers to Jacob and Thomas straight ahead, sitting in a gallery and answering
the calls with the prepared messages. The whole installation or I would even say
a protracted performance is called Bravospam, which first of all studies us, human of the
new era interacting with bots as with humans and with humans as with bots. In the previous 8 minutes 40 seconds, I managed
to tell you a very brief history behind only 6 Internet-based artworks. But there are thousands out there, waiting
for your attention. Oh, I know, you are probably asking yourself. Where can I find Internet art? On the Internet of course. I would recommend going to the websites of
the worldwide renowned festivals of digital art such as German Transmediale, for instance. On their website, also available in German,
go to the menu, participants and discover all the artists of this year. Another example is the Brazilian International
Electronic Language Festival. On the homepage they divided all the artists
by the categories. Go to WebGL section and enjoy exquisite examples
of Internet graphics. Their website, obviously, has also a Portuguese
version. Critical writings together with the artworks
presentations can be also found on the website of the Institute of the Network Cultures,
the part of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Researchers and historians can be also interested
in the extensive database of Internet art as an offshoot of digital art, which is collected
at www.digitalartarchive.at. I copied all the links in the description
just for your convenience. But of course, you can always begin your own
search with Google or Wikipedia. Wait a minute. You still look a little bit confused about Internet
art. You are not even sure whether it is art at all? That is a good question. Is it art at all? In my humble opinion, the answer is yes. It is art because it incorporates the instrument
(aforementioned Internet) with the original idea and authentic message, it changes the
perspective from which we see usual things such as browser page or social networks. And if you look at it in the historical context,
you’ll realize that this is what artists actually always do: they experiment with reality and question
what’s taken for granted. Let’s face it, it’s too late to doubt
its general existence. The real problem comes from within the art
world. Although a considerable amount of books and
articles were written to praise and criticize Internet art, galleries and museums are not
completely confident with presentation and distribution of it. Self-evidently, old techniques
of exhibiting can not be used with the new medium, especially when this new medium is meant to be
spread worldwide. And this is another reason why you should experience
it by yourself. It differs from the art world and it differs
from the online realm. But apart from being just super unique, it also challenges
our way to use the Internet. Internet artists are not trying to be liked
by you, nor are they trying to sell you something by putting buttons and links in the right
position. They make you think, they make you go through the
whole spectrum of feelings and they make you reflect on how you have just experienced something
very familiar but drastically new. So if you guys followed my advice and clicked
on a couple of links that I shared with you or if you are going to do so, I would be
happy to know what you think about it and how was your experience with Internet
art? And until then goodbye, and I hope I will see next time
somewhere, where the art is!

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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