"Simple Net Art Diagram", a 1997 work by Michael Sarff and Tim Whidden

Internet art (also known as net art or web art) is a form of new media art distributed via the Internet. This form of art circumvents the traditional dominance of the physical gallery and museum system. In many cases, the viewer is drawn into some kind of interaction with the work of art. Artists working in this manner are sometimes referred to as net artists.

Net artists may use specific social or cultural internet traditions to produce their art outside of the technical structure of the internet. Internet art is often — but not always — interactive, participatory, and multimedia-based. Internet art can be used to spread a message, either political or social, using human interactions.

The term Internet art typically does not refer to art that has been simply digitized and uploaded to be viewable over the Internet, such as in an online gallery.[1] Rather, this genre relies intrinsically on the Internet to exist as a whole, taking advantage of such aspects as an interactive interface and connectivity to multiple social and economic cultures and micro-cultures, not only web-based works.

New media theorist and curator Jon Ippolito defined "Ten Myths of Internet Art" in 2002.[1] He cites the above stipulations, as well as defining it as distinct from commercial web design, and touching on issues of permanence, archivability, and collecting in a fluid medium.

History and context

Internet art is rooted in disparate artistic traditions and movements, ranging from Dada to Situationism, conceptual art, Fluxus, video art, kinetic art, performance art, telematic art and happenings.[2]

In 1974, Canadian artist Vera Frenkel worked with the Bell Canada Teleconferencing Studios to produce the work String Games: Improvisations for Inter-City Video, the first artwork in Canada to use telecommunications technologies.[3]

An early telematic artwork was Roy Ascott's work, La Plissure du Texte,[4] performed in collaboration created for an exhibition at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1983.

In 1985, Eduardo Kac created the animated videotex poem Reabracadabra for the Minitel system.[5]

Media art institutions such as Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, or the Paris-based IRCAM (a research center for electronic music), would also support or present early networked art. In 1996, Helen Thorington founded Turbulence.org, an online platform for commissioning and exhibiting net art, and hosting multi location networked performances. in 1991 Wolfgang Staehle founded the important experimental platform such as The Thing. in 1994 entrepreneur John Borthwick and curator Benjamin Weil produced artworks online by Doug Aitken, Jenny Holzer and others on Adaweb and In 1997 MIT's List Visual Arts Center hosted "PORT: Navigating Digital Culture," which included internet art in a gallery space and "time-based Internet projects."[6] Artists in the show included Cary Peppermint, Prema Murthy, Ricardo Dominguez, Helen Thorington, and Adrianne Wortzel.

Also in 1997 internet art was exhibited at documenta X (directed by Catherine David), with curator Simon Lamunière. The 10 projects presented simultaneously in Kassel and online were those of Matt Mullican, Antoni Muntadas, Holger Friese, Heath Bunting, Felix Stefan Huber & Philip Pocock, Herve Graumann, Jodi, Martin Kippenberger and Carsten Höller among others.

In 2000 the Whitney Museum of American Art included net art in their Biennial exhibit.[7] It was the first time that internet art had been included as a special category in the Biennial, and it marked one of the earliest examples of the inclusion of internet art in a museum setting. Internet artists included Mark Amerika, Fakeshop, Ken Goldberg, etoy and ®™ark.

With the rise of search engines as a gateway to accessing the web in the late 1990s, many net artists turned their attention to related themes. The 2001 'Data Dynamics' exhibit at the Whitney Museum featured 'Netomat' (Maciej Wisniewski) and 'Apartment' - a Turbulence.org commission - (Marek Walczak and Martin Wattenberg), which used search queries as raw material. Mary Flanagan's ' The Perpetual Bed' received attention for its use of 3D nonlinear narrative space, or what she called "navigable narratives."[8] [9] Her 2001 piece titled 'Collection' shown in the Whitney Biennial displayed items amassed from hard drives around the world in a computational collective unconscious.'[10] Golan Levin's 'The Secret Lives of Numbers' (2000) - also a Turbulence.org commission - visualized the "popularity" of the numbers 1 to 1,000,000 as measured by Alta Vista search results. Such works pointed to alternative interfaces and questioned the dominant role of search engines in controlling access to the net.

Nevertheless, the Internet is not reducible to the web, nor to search engines. Besides these unicast (point to point) applications, suggesting the existence of reference points, there is also a multicast (multipoint and uncentered) internet that has been explored by very few artistic experiences, such as the Poietic Generator. Internet art has, according to Juliff and Cox, suffered under the privileging of the user interface inherent within computer art. They argue that Internet is not synonymous with a specific user and specific interface, but rather a dynamic structure that encompasses coding and the artist's intention.[11]

At the same period, original attempts to establish a physical relation between what happened on the web and what would be exhibited in museums were developed by MUDAM Musée d’Art Contemporain du Luxembourg and most of all by MIXM. At the time, and before platforms like Second Life where Cao Fei developed her RMB City, contemporary artists like Peter Kogler, Heimo Zobernig, Nedko Solakov or Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner realized works online that could be seen in art museums specifically as installations and not just on a computer screen showing internet art. In Solakov’s work for example, one could interact online with objects that were in the exhibition space of the Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève. In Heimo Zobernig’s work, one could physically move a wall to reveal a space in the MAMCO containing a 3d online rendering of the same space.

The emergence of social networking platforms in the mid-2000s facilitated a transformative shift in the distribution of internet art. Early online communities were organized around specific "topical hierarchies",[12] whereas social networking platforms consist of egocentric networks, with the "individual at the center of their own community".[12] Artistic communities on the Internet underwent a similar transition in the mid-2000s, shifting from Surf Clubs, "15 to 30 person groups whose members contributed to an ongoing visual-conceptual conversation through the use of digital media"[13] and whose membership was restricted to a select group of individuals, to image-based social networking platforms, like Flickr, which permit access to any individual with an e-mail address. Internet artists make extensive use of the networked capabilities of social networking platforms, and are rhizomatic in their organization, in that "production of meaning is externally contingent on a network of other artists' content".[13]


Main article: Post-Internet

Post-Internet is a loose descriptor[14] for works of art that are derived from the Internet as well as the internet's effects on aesthetics, culture and society.[15] It is a broad term with many associations and has been heavily criticized.[14]

The term emerged during the mid-2000s and was coined by Internet artist Marisa Olson in 2008.[16] Discussions about Internet art by Marisa Olson, Gene McHugh, and Artie Vierkant (the latter notable for his Image Objects, a series of deep blue monochrome prints) brought the term to a mainstream consciousness.[17] Between the 2000s and 2010s, post-Internet artists were largely the domain of millennials operating on web platforms such as Tumblr and MySpace or working in social media video and post-narrative formats such as YouTube, Vevo, or memes.

According to a 2015 article in The New Yorker, the term describes "the practices of artists who ... unlike those of previous generations, [employ] the Web [as] just another medium, like painting or sculpture. Their artworks move fluidly between spaces, appearing sometimes on a screen, other times in a gallery."[18] In the early 2010s, post-Internet was popularly associated with the musician Grimes, visual artists like Cory Arcangel, Artie Vierkant, Petra Cortrght, Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, and Kalup Linzy, and social practice dissensus collectives like DIS and K-HOLE.[19] The movement catapulted a number of hybrid microgenres and subcultures such as bloghouse, bro dubstep, seapunk, electroclash, and vaporwave.[14]


Art historian Rachel Greene identified six forms of internet art that existed from 1993 to 1996: email, audio, video, graphics, animation and websites.[20] These mailing lists allowed for organization which was carried over to face-to-face meetings that facilitated more nuanced conversations, less burdened from miscommunication.

Since the mid-2000s, many artists have used Google's search engine and other services for inspiration and materials. New Google services breed new artistic possibilities.[21] Beginning in 2008, Jon Rafman collected images from Google Street View for his project called The Nine Eyes of Google Street View.[22][21] Another ongoing net art project is I'm Google by Dina Kelberman which organizes pictures and videos from Google and YouTube around a theme in a grid form that expands as you scroll.[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b Ippolito, Jon (2002-10-01). "Ten Myths of Internet Art". Leonardo. 35 (5): 485–498. doi:10.1162/002409402320774312. ISSN 0024-094X. S2CID 57564573.
  2. ^ Chandler, Annmarie; Neumark, Norie (2005). At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-03328-3.
  3. ^ Langill, Caroline (2009). "Electronic media in 1974". Shifting Polarities. Montreal: The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
  4. ^ White, Norman T. "Plissure du Texte". The NorMill. Retrieved September 21, 2010. (Unedited transcript including organizational discussion.)
  5. ^ "NET ART ANTHOLOGY: Reabracadabra". NET ART ANTHOLOGY: Reabracadabra. 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  6. ^ "Port Home".
  7. ^ The Whitney Biennial 2000. See also "Now Anyone Can Be in the Whitney Biennial" in The New York Times (March 23, 2000), and "The Whitney Speaks: It Is Art" in Wired Magazine (March 23, 2000).
  8. ^ Klink, Patrick (1999). "Daring Digital Artist". UB Today. Buffalo: The University at Buffalo. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  9. ^ Flanagan, Mary (2000). "navigating the narrative in space: gender and spatiality in virtual worlds". Art Journal. New York: The College Art Association. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  10. ^ Cotter, Holland (2002). "Never Mind the Art Police, These Six Matter". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  11. ^ Toby Juliff, Travis Cox (2015). "The post-display condition of contemporary computer art" (PDF). EMaj. 8.
  12. ^ a b Boyd, D. M.; N. B. Ellison (2007). "Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship". Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 13 (1): 210–230. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00393.x. S2CID 52810295. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  13. ^ a b Schneider, B. "From Clubs to Affinity: The Decentralization of Art on the Internet". 491. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  14. ^ a b c Amarca, Nico (March 1, 2016). "From Bucket Hats to Pokémon: Breaking Down Yung Lean's Style". High Snobiety. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  15. ^ Wallace, Ian (March 18, 2014). "What Is Post-Internet Art? Understanding the Revolutionary New Art Movement". Artspace.
  16. ^ "Interview with Marisa Olson". 28 March 2008.
  17. ^ Connor, Michael (November 1, 2013). "What's Postinternet Got to do with Net Art?". Rhizome.
  18. ^ Goldsmith, Kenneth (2015-03-10). "Post-Internet Poetry Comes of Age". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  19. ^ Snapes, Laura (February 19, 2020). "Pop star, producer or pariah? The conflicted brilliance of Grimes". The Guardian.
  20. ^ Moss, Cecelia Laurel (2015). Expanded Internet Art and the Informational Milieu. Ann Arbor. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-339-32982-6.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)</5-Arts Net> In the 1990s, email based mailing lists provided net artists with a community for online discourse that broke boundaries between critical and generative dialogues. The email format allowed instant expression, however limited to text and simple graphic based communication, with an international scope.<5-arts net>Greene, Rachel. (2004). Internet art. New York, N.Y.: Thames & Hudson. pp. 73–74. ISBN 0-500-20376-8. OCLC 56809770.
  21. ^ a b c Christou, Elisavet (2018-07-01). "Internet Art, Google and Artistic Practice". Electronic Workshops in Computing. doi:10.14236/ewic/EVA2018.23. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. ^ "NET ART ANTHOLOGY: Nine Eyes of Google Street View". NET ART ANTHOLOGY: Nine Eyes of Google Street View. 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2020-11-16.