Original (952k)

Playing with the clichés of art

Translation by Ola Lindvall

Art on the Net. Not very many good images, but when the visitor is a co-creator it gets exciting.

It's easy to find a bad reproduction of Mona Lisa on the Net, but there's no search-engine that finds the good art sites. They drown in the offers from all the museums and galleries, homepages that very seldom are more amusing than the museum's postcards.

If you want to get well-informed and know what is shown on exhibitions over the world, you surely will find what you're looking for. But it's harder if you want to experience web art.

Web art often doesn't look like traditional art. The limitation in band-width makes it hard to get good quality images and sound, so the best works are based more on ideas than on aesthetics; on astonishment, surprises and humour more than sensuality and form.

On one of the more amusing art pages the visitor can create the image himself. The New York-artist Andy Deck has developed a simple drawing program with interesting tools such as triangles with rough irregular edges, veil-looking fields and "dandelions" in different colors. He has achieved what so many others have missed, that the Internet is a medium of interactivity. No images will be of very good quality, but when the beholder turns into a fellow co-creator it turns interesting anyway. Andy's page invites you to play with the clichés of art and to realize the fact that art has to be something more than effectful images of forms borrowed from somebody else.

Besides this, you have to cope with being not the only creator. While you're watching the image you just made, it's starting to change; and yes, you suddenly notice that the program has got two users, and now three... It's no use to swear or protest. Somewhere in cyberspace somebody else is sitting in this moment and painting over your creation, in his or her own fantasic or terrible way.

The idea of the Stockholm-artist Karin Hansson is more abstract. She published something that looks more like a normal homepage for the teenage girl Lova.

We're watching images and stories from an ordinary life. But it's really not about Lova, because Lova doesn't exist. Here the art consists of the game with identities, and of playing with the uncertainty of what we really see on the net.

Other artists work extensively with sound, as the Latvian group Xchange, and their radio network. Here you can listen to everthing from Finnish-Ugrian smalltalk and sampled music, as well as recorded parties and underground music from all over Europe. In many of the broadcastings the art consists of experiments with a mix of life on the net with real life, as with online Internet clubs.

Do you want to know what's going on in the rest of the world (like in the States or in France)? Maybe the site Leonardo Online is one of the best. Here you'll find long and deep, serious texts and some images. But there are possibilities to enjoy the net as an image medium as well. Channa Bankier (a Swedish female artist) offers the right Internet feeling with her images, made for downloading to the color printer at home.

Images by the net are available from Grafikens Hus (House of Graphics) in Mariefred, in the shape of graphical posters delivered by post a few days later. You can order art made by Lenanrt Rodhe, Eva Zetterwall, Jodi Arkö among others, and be sure that the pieces of art are authentic, which is not a sure thing when buying on the net. But you can't be sure that you see the exact color on (on the screen), and of course you won't experience the pleasure of visiting the gallery.

The way it looks today it is really not the same thing clicking with the mouse, as walking around in genuine rooms, with scents and dust, where the pieces of art can erouse desire of the hand as well as of the eye. But it is still an experience to surf around and watch a new artform being born.

Roads to art on the net

Addresses and links leading to an international scope of the art sites:

For those interested in surfing the art of the net, there are a number of good addresses.
Starting at home www.art.a.se and www.natverkstan.se/nonsite is recommended. The School of Art, www.kkh.se can also be worth visiting, even if cyber art isn't the main thing there. Do you want to view 3D-art, which needs heavy plug-ins, you can start at www.hackson.com/zippo. Then go on to the Danish Artnode site; www.artnode.dk

Of course, much is done in the States, and there www.dia.org, www.jodi.org and www.adaweb.walkerart.org are hot url's. Good links is also available in the UK on www.ucl.ac.uk/slade/digita

In germany you'll find cyber art and some links on http://www1.zkm.de The French seems to see the net more as a place for exchanging thoughts than as an art medium, but at www.culture.fr you'll at least find some virtual museums, discussion groups and so on. And here's some other reliable links:
The Swedish Bildjournalen (art program on TV) http://www.svt.se offeres a nice alternative to Christoffer Barnekow (another TV host) on Saturdays; Kulturnatet; www.kulturnat.iva.se offers good links to art in history. On ArtGlobe, www.artglobe.se there is an encyclopedia of arts.

Addresses to the mentioned pages in the text: Andy Deck's page on GrafficJam - andyland.net
Lova (by Karin Hansson) - www.art.a.se
The radio net Xchange - http://re-lab.net
Artnode - www.artnode.se
Leonardo Online - www.mit.edu/e-journals/Leonardo
Channa Bankier - www.natverkstan.net/nv-kult/arkivet
Grafikens Hus/ House of Graphics - www.grafikenshus.se