Last week we looked at memes – their use and the potential they present for digital alchemy. But can we consider them a kind of art?

This week we will look more deeply at the notion of digital art.  And we will consider the way open digital networks might add something extra to the production of digital art.

Welcome to Net Art. Consider a definition.  Perhaps for

Net art is an elusive and sometimes anarchic art form which uses the Internet as its primary material. Net art works often draw on data from other Internet materials and websites, which helps give them their distinctive dynamics and transience.
Net Specific: What is Net Art

Can digital art production in the age of the network shed some light on all the internet darkness?

This Week in #NerNarr

In class, we will be reviewing where we have been (i.e. remembering some aspects of internet darkness, and our early consideration of art production on the net via memes).  And we will also start to consider where will be going: ultimately producing a collaborative “field guide” to surviving (maybe even thriving ?) with the Internet of 2019, and beyond.

We will also do some “house cleaning” by reviewing the expectations for class and our practices of blogging and participating.

Overview of Net Art

We will start our conversation this week with a closer look at the way “the digital” has transformed the terms of art production.  From there, we will consider how data and the inclusion of networks have changed whats possible for art production.  These slides will guide us:

In addition, your instructors have selected works of net art to introduce as examples.

Mia Zamora’s Walkthrough Example: Datamorphosis

Digital Artist Emilio Vavarella, a studio visit guest in 2018, has a new exhibit on The Other Shape of Things: Datamorphosis

consists of 15 series of sculptures, called Libri (Books), based on the 15 books that comprise Ovid’s poem The Metamorphoses. Each series follows the corresponding book and is composed of a variable number of sculptures (ranging from 7 to 23). Each sculpture takes the name of one of Ovid’s myths and is produced by forcing a computer to interpret Latin verses about metamorphosis as coding instructions for the production of new sculptural forms.

Alan Levine’s Walkthrough Example: Exhausting A Crowd

Add in real time dialogue to surveillance video of people in a public space

Exhausting A Crowd by Kyle McDonald offers

“Twelve hours of footage from two days at London’s busy Piccadilly Circus is open to annotation, where anyone online can comment on the happenings and people in an accumulating experiment in surveillance and how human intelligence can be enhanced through automation.”

Scenes are available also for a public square in Birmingham, a street in The Netherlands, and a busy pedestrian intersection in Gwangju.

Mia Zamora’s Walkthrough Example: #SELFIEPOETRY

These works by tonight’s studio visitor, Alex Saum include “Fake Art Histories & the Inscription of the Digital Self,” which “explores the intertwining of two ideas: the untruth behind artistic or literary histories, and our (il)legitimacy to intervene them to create narratives that make teleological sense”.  “Women and Capitalism” deepens the intersection between the Self and its most contemporary representation (i.e., the selfie) within a variety of intermingled structures (familiar, sexual, cultural, neoliberal, #younameit) as they are experienced in the Web. As such, all poems are precarious and distributed experiences built across different social media sites.”

Alan Levine’s Walkthrough Example: Gif The Dub

Created by John Johnston, an elementary school teacher in Glasgow, Gif The Dub is a toy that mashes up gifs from giphy and sounds from Freesound. Controls provide a means to change the content, and the ultimate creation can be saved as a link. Note: it can be loud!

Net Art Explore and Tweet

Put on your Digital Alchemy goggles and spend some time finding works of Net Art that (a) grab your interest and/or (b) might be making statements, suggestions related to the state of the internet in 2019.

Take some notes (or maybe use your tools), make screenshots, and as you go, tweet out links to what you find (please include the #netnarr hashtag). Learn as much as you can about the artist behind the work. What messages are they trying to communicate? Share at least two interesting pieces.

  • Artport (a lot of things to explore)
    Artport is the Whitney Museum’s portal to Internet art and an online gallery space for commissions of net art and new media art. e.g. The World’s Longest Sentence
  • Indirect Flights a new online work by Joe Hamilton with sound by J.G. Biberkopf and supported by The Moving Museum, is a sprawling landscape of layered images. Raw materials, satellite images, organic textures, brush strokes and architectural fragments are all blended together into a dense panorama extending in all directions. As you pan across the terrain like Google Maps the layers move at different speeds giving the illusion of depth, constantly changing what is hidden and exposed. This shifting composition is an attempt to depict contemporary landscape, in a moment defined by the proliferation of digital technologies and the global transportation of bodies, commodities and goods.
  • Emilio Vavarella “is an artist whose work blends interdisciplinary art practice and theoretical research and is centered around the study of the relationship between humans and technological power. His works present a combination of using new technologies with alternative (non-productive, poetic, dysfunctional) goals in mind, imagining technology’s future effects through the use of speculative fiction, and decontextualizing and misusing technology to reveal its hidden mechanisms.” See especially Animal Cinema, Re:Animation, Mnemograofo, or The Google Trilogy
  • Alex Saum Our studio guest tonight! Explore her E-Poetry and other projects.
  • Moth Generator
    This twitter account posts gorgeous imaginary moths of all shapes, sizes, and colors, and each arrives with a fantastical, scientific-sounding name derived from thousands of English and Latin moth names (like woolly-woolly gigantellerae aecedens). To introduce more fun, its creators, Loren Schmidt and Katie Rose Pipkin have also programmed it to interact with any user on Twitter: if you tweet a random word or even phrase at the account, you’ll receive a mention with your very own, custom moth (might not be working?)
  • Cameron’s World
    a frenetic web-collage created as “a love letter to the internet of old.” Divided into thematic rows of over 700 images Askin sourced from archived pages, the website is a well-organized gallery exploding with decades-old browser detritus composed of blinking texts, animated pictorial cursors, MIDI files, and cheesy GIFs. Meanwhile, music fitting to soundtrack a video game, created by Robin Hughes with only a mouse, loops in the background so scrolling through “Cameron’s World” truly feels like entering a time machine.
  • The One Million Masterpiece “As a community we are creating a piece of artwork that will provide a unique snapshot of modern society through the eyes of one million people scattered across the world. To do this we are asking artists and non-artists alike to complete one small square of a giant digital canvas. The project is supported by the largest online arts communities and is an official world record holder.”
  • My Boyfriend Came Back From the War
    A work that first appeared in 1996 and has since made its way into university syllabi, and has been remade, remixed, and rethought by countless digital artists. In other words this work has already entered the canon of Art History. My boyfriend came back from war uses the web and the tools it provides to tell a story of a couple that is trying to reconnect after he comes home from war. As you click at the images and gif their story unravels.
  • Mouchette
    toys with and explores the issues of identity online. Mouchette persona is loosely based on Robert Bresson’s 1967 film ‘Moucgette’
  • A surprisingly addictive, and very colourful website. One of the interesting things about it is that, though available for view to the public, the site is owned by a collector. It was successfully sold for $3,500 at Phillips auction.
  • This Exquisite Forest “From 2012 – 2014, visitors to this site could use an online drawing tool to create a short animation. Other visitors could then build off of that animation, resulting in branching, ever-evolving narratives resembling trees.”
  • Ryan Seslow “I’m an artist, a graphic designer, web designer, and a professor of art & design living and working in New York. As a visual artist I’m often working with a synthesis of applied arts, new media, digital and Internet-art. I like to show my work both on and off the web. I share a lot of my current projects, exhibitions and collaborations here on the blog section of this website. I’m the curator of Concrete to Data & the Co-Curator of Encrypted Fills & Animating Transit.”
  • The Tate Intermedia Art Archive
    Tate’s Intermedia Art programme focussed on art that engages the use of new media, sound and performance. The featured artworks may be created with newer or older networked and time-based media such as video, radio, computer technologies or the internet. They may involve performance or discussion, straddle a variety of media, or even fuse media in the creation of new hybrid, intermedia forms. The programme also addressed art that comments on the social and political implications of new technology and practices that challenge traditional ideas of the art object; including work that is process-driven, participatory or interactive.
  • The Johnny Cash Project (old required Flash) Through this interactive website, participants may draw their own portrait of Johnny Cash to be integrated into a collective whole. As people all over the world contribute, the project will continue to evolve and grow, one frame at a time. Submit your drawing to become a part of the new music video for the song “Ain’t No Grave”. Strung together and relayed in sequence your art, paired with Johnny’s haunting song, will become a living, moving, and ever changing portrait of the legendary Man in Black.
  • Body Anxiety shares the varied perspectives of artists who examine gendered embodiment, performance and self-representation on the internet. Throughout art and film history, the female body and nude has been an ongoing subject in male-authored work. More often than not, the woman’s body is capitalized on in these works while their voice is muted. From the Seventies onwards, female artists employed video and performance to reclaim their bodies from this art historical trajectory. Today, artists use the internet as a platform to create and share their own imagery. While appropriation might be a common practice in contemporary art, using the internet as gender-queer performative space allows artists to question contemporary attitudes towards femininity.

Learn More About Net Art

Studio Visit with Alex Saum

Our studio visit this week is a conversation with digital artist Alexandra Saum-Pascual where she will share her approach to digital art.

Alex Saum (Mar 19 @6:30pm ET)

Alex Saum (Mar 19 @6:30pm ET)

Join us for another Studio visit, this week with a conversation with digital artist Alexandra Saum-Pascual where she will share her approach to digital art. Alexandra Saum-Pascual is Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of California, ...

Tasks for The Week

    • Field Guide Review. Write up your reviewed net art pieces as posts tagged fieldguide that might be of interest when producing a “Field Guide to Surviving the Darkness of the Internet”.
    • DDAs. Complete at least two Digital Daily Alchemy activities this week. Make sure you are including both the @netnarr account and the daily specific tag #dda*** in your responses on Twitter.

<li>Contract Review Kean students must reply by email to their grade contract details and provide a self-assessment of where they are at.

  • Weekly Reflection From our class activities and hangouts, summarize your introduction to Net Art and speculate on its alchemical potential.


Got GIF?

Data GIF by Ryan Seslow - Find & Share on GIPHY

Featured Image: Composite of Willy Wonka meme image from One does not simply make an exhibition about memes – meet the curator who did (in the London Standard) and Wikimedia Commons image Teo Spiller The Book of the Dead ( 4 licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine
Alan Levine feels weird writing about himself in the third person. A 1990s pioneer on the web and early proponent of blogging, he shares his ideas at His interests include web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), mocking MOOCs, daily photography, bending WordPress, and randomly dipping into the infinite river of the internet.

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