For artists exploring networked environments and diaphanous architectural and acoustic domains, traditional ways of functioning within the established art world are being fundamentally altered. Artists, curators and art critics are well aware that the World Wide Web is a non-linear and chaotic space that doesn’t fit neatly into the existing structures of existing institutions, such as galleries and museums. This shifts not only the relationship and the dynamic of the existing power structures, but is redefining the field of art itself. Long standing relationships between the artist and their audience, the curatorial process, and entrenched cultural institutions, neither apply to, nor nurture the development of contemporary art making as it increasingly occurs in this radically reconfigured terrain. Depending on the particular interest of an artist, a variety of disciplines may become his/her resource while developing the work, thus creating a model that might be closer to scientific research than work which is solely based on practice. This is amplified by the fact that artists who work with computers have to master skills which are anything but intuitive. Artists who have successfully made the leap from the traditional exhibition spaces are creating a bridge between different worlds and defining an evolving field of artmaking located between networks and physical installations. Both artists and the institutions that they have traditionally affiliated themselves with are struggling to locate this new dynamic of creative activity. For this panel, we will be staying within the confines of the art world; from this vantage point we will attempt to define this newly emerging world. A wide range of topics will be addressed – from problems of hardware dependency and sponsorship to theoretical issues such as identity and the author/audience relationship. We will discuss the importance of visual and interface aesthetics as a determining factor of how media works are classified as art, and the question of who in fact is qualified to make such a judgement at this stage. By using “surfing the net” as a model, we plan to touch on a variety of subjects and issues that are having an effect on this emerging field. On the one hand, how does an audience influence work that is open to their contributions? And on the other hand, what strategies can the artist use to maintain the aesthetic and conceptual coherence of their work? The web allows participants to wander in and out of any space they visit. What ramifications does this have for the experience of artworks? If the artist or institution controls this access, do they negate the very nature of the web? What is the relationship of the audience and the artist? How does this relationship shift from networked space to physical public space? How can museums and art collectors deal with works that have no closure? Finally, what is the conceptual problematic of defining and separating the off and on-line spaces? The panelists will present examples and proposals of projects which are designed to blur these rigid separations.
- Ken Feingold, USA kenfeingold.com