JIP - JavaMuseum Interview Project

Survey: Ian Page-Echols

Ian Page-Echols

10 questions – 10 answers

Since a reasonable time, digital media entered the field of art and extended the traditional definition of art through some new , but very essential components.
Do you think it is like that and if yes, tell me more about these components and how they changed the perception of art?
I think many people agree that internet/digital art can be “artistic”. But show me a traditional collector or art dealer who covets some new media piece and I’ll show you actual acceptance. That said, there do seem to be small pockets of acceptance. It’s acceptance by the people that effects what you are asking far more than the “definition” of art. Every text definition of the word “art” could fully include any form of art including new media, while, as far as I can tell, the definition has not changed.

A relevant section of digital art represents Internet based art. The Internet was hardly existing, but artists conquered already this new field for their artistic activities.
Can the work of these early artists be compared with those who work with advanced technologies nowadays? What changed until these days ? What might be the perspectives for future developments?
There are definitely different forms of art that have popped up in times of new technology compared to times of evolving technology. Think about it this way: the percentage of web sites considered “groundbreaking artistically” in the beginning of the net and web was absolutely huge in the beginning. Now, in order to gain some similar praise, you have to be inspired, and/or have some stunning example of technological prowess. What happens a lot of the time is that almost anything “new” in the field of new media is considered to be artistic, rather than just a breakthrough of a technological kind. It’s not as clear as just looking at paintings and being able to see the skill level of the painter.

The education in the field of New Media art, including Internet based art, started late compared with the general speed of technological development and acceptance.
So, generations of artists who used the Internet as their artistic working field were not educated in this new discipline(s) and technologies, but had rather an interdisciplinary approach.
What Do you think, would be the best way to teach young people how to deal with the Internet as an environment of art?
I think that was the best way. I think traditional teaching methods are flawed as they always want to cite what has been done ad nauseam and how great some painting or building is. It may be relevant that the doric column blah blah blah, but I think it stagnates and makes things centuries old still be the status quo. Teach people how the technology works and show some examples of how to use the technology, and get people discussing and interacting in a more meaningful way about what what is possible and I believe you start seeing some far different examples of art, architecture . . . I think the historical portions of learning should come far later in education, once the student has their creative side somewhat working, not before.

What kind of meaning have the new technologies and the Internet to you in concern of art, are they just tools for expressing artistic intentions, or have they rather an ideological character, as it can be found with many “netartists”, or what else do they mean to you?
Many “Internet based artists” work on “engaged” themes and subjects, for instance, in social, political, cultural etc concern.
Which contents are you particularly interested in, personally and from an artcritical point of view.
This kind of goes along with the last question. When not confronted with a “this is the way it was” mentality, the possibility of creating something based purely out of thought and reasoning, and actually engaging the topics is somewhat easier in a lot of ways. There isn’t as much of a chance to get stuck on what other artists have done also as other artists really haven’t done a lot to compare to. Very interesting times in art as far as I am concerned.

The term “netart” is widely used for anything posted on the net, there are dozens of definitions which mostly are even contradictory.
How do you define “netart” or if you like the description “Internet based art” better?
Do you think “netart” is art, at all, if yes, what are the criteria?
Are there any aesthetic criteria for an Internet based artwork?
I don’t really care about descriptions of art forms. They are only used to box in and describe something. Even knowing that some music is dubbed “rock and roll” I have absolutely no idea what that music sounds like. The best way is always to experience it. The less able you are to describe something, the most potentially interesting it is.

“Art on the net” has the advantage and the disadvantage to be located on the virtual space in Internet which defines also its right to exist.
Do you think, that “art based on the Internet”, can be called still like that, even if it is just used offline?
Again, it really doesn’t matter. The term new media works far better as it is more inclusive. Some of these works are just digital content, some are married to a box, like a kiosk type display in a museum. The experience of the art does not change based on it’s classifiers. Add to that the fact that internet technologies are becoming far more like local drive based new media and it matters less and less. When someone can send a digitally created hologram from China to the US, will that still be called “netart” or “internet art”? It’s still going through the internet. I think it is partially just too hard to try to compartmentalize this stuff to be worth doing. Figuring out how to save it so that it can be seen 10 years from now is far more important. That is increasingly not being done and increasingly harder to do. Some sites interact with sensors, cameras, web forms, text chat, mobile phones with cameras . . . It will be impossible to show these outside of the context of now in many cases.

Dealing with this new, and interactive type of art demands an active viewer or user, and needs the audience much more and in different ways than any other art discipline before. How do you think would be good ways to stimulate the user to dive into this new world of art?
What do you think represents an appropriate environment to present net based art to an audience, is it the context of the lonesome user sitting in front of his personal computer, is it any public context, or is it rather the context of art in general or media art in particular, or anything else.?
If you would be in the position to create an environment for presenting this type of art in physical space, how would you do it?
I think it’s different art based on where you experience it. A tiny painting up on the gallery wall might look interesting, but to the person who buys that piece of art, puts it up on their wall where they will pass it many times a day and reflect or just look at it, it’s more a part of them, maybe, than a piece of art even. “Netart” in a gallery, is likewise a completely different animal. I like watching the interactions of people with my creations though, so for me, a gallery or other place where I can watch people interacting is key. I love seeing if I was right on how people would interact, and I like learning what to expect and seeing if I learned something the next time I create something interactive.

As Internet based art, as well as other art forms using new technologies are (globally seen) still not widely accepted, yet, as serious art forms, what do you think could be an appropriate solution to change this situation?
I think all that can be done is to try to crack open the traditional museum. Some have displayed new media forms from time to time, but many are ruled by the donations of the wealthy. The wealthy tend to focus on traditional, respectable stuff like Van Gogh, Monet, anything that will give their egos a boost when connected to their name in this prestigious museum. Cut out the donors and try to get the museums to focus on art that questions and even changes the way things are. Get the museums to have art that makes you think. If the museums actively pursued this line of thought, there would be no question about the acceptance of this kind of art. There should be different classes of museums. The Monet’s should go to an art history museum, not a current art museum.

The Internet is sometimes called a kind of “democratic” environment,
The conventional art practice is anything else than that, but selective by using filters of different kind.
The audience is mostly only able to make up its mind on second hand. Art on the net might potentially be different. Do you think the current practice of dealing with Internet based art is such different or rather the described conventional way through (also curatorial) filtering?
Do you think, that speaking in the terms of Joseph Beuys, anybody who publishes anything on the net would be also an artist?
I think that in general, Beuys is right. There are very few conventions set up on the web. Since people are not constrained, more people actually ARE artists and are able to feel creative when they are creating these things. But you do end up with a weird era where it is hard to even say what art is.

Do you think, the curators dealing with net based art should have any technological knowledge in order to understand such an art work from its roots? And what about the users of Internet based art?
I would say yes, but there are so many technologies being dealt with that it would be literally impossible to be technically knowledgeable about each piece. You’re stuck with the generic term “programming” or “algorithm” to describe a piece of code instead of understanding the possibly brilliant and genius ideas in the code itself. Some of this might best be experienced by the other people knowledgeable in that technology. Conversely, those people experienced in that technology might just find the stuff to be insipid as it merely is being put on the web instead of where it might have originally occurred in aerospace or linux driver code or whatever the case may be.