Medium Specificity and Cacophany


Medium Specificity in Internet Art – enhance reading listening to this track

Reading a Kerouac novel, the words beat to the rhythm of some crazy fast jazz, while you pause to breathe and sip on your coffee before jumping into the dancing of the sentences once again and are led on… the chaos of modern life, exhilarating, confusing…

Over a hundred years ago Modernist painters questioned the function of their trade. Should painting mimic a three-dimensional space? Well, no, they would argue –  a sculpture can do that better. Should we painters attempt a photorealistic portrayal of objects and people, like the Dutch masters or the Neo-Classicists? Well, no, again. Photography does that better and cheaper. Then what should the Medium of paint focus itself on? Painting, modernist artists would argue, should concentrate on the properties of paint on canvas, on its bi-dimensional attributes, on colour, texture, structural relationships between shapes and tones…

From the Impressionists to Neo-Impressionists, Fauvists, Matisse, Cubism, Suprematism and Abstract Expressionism (to name many which in fact are just a few), we have witnessed an attempt to experiment on the medium of painting, pushing its boundaries and letting all other pretensions go.

Nowadays, I believe Internet Art is going through similar existential questions Modernist painters did. The way I see it, Art in the Internet can fall into two main categories: The traditional Art that uses the internet as a way of storage, archiving, or as a means to reach an exponential larger audience in the hope of recognition or/and sales. In that group lies all the musicians who upload their tracks online, painters who showcase their works on their website, museums who offer virtual tours of their collections, wanna-be directors who upload their short movies on Youtube etc…

The other category is populated by Artist who are using the specific qualities of the Internet to produce new Art. This kind of Art isn’t painting, sculpture, theatre, music, literature, performance but a strange and new mix of all, hard to pin point and uses the specific medium of the Online Digital World as its prime-matter.

We all live in an age of Information overload, of rapid changes, of blatant lies for mainstream media and gaslighting techniques. Eighteen percent of the US population have anxiety disorders and many more depression, and mass usage of anxiolytics and sleeping pills is widespread. Many teens and adults spend a third of their day on social media or on online games like lost souls in opium dens. It seems befitting to me that the Art we produce nowadays should fearlessly tackle those issues, understand and digest them. There are no more reasons to paint Rococo garden scenes, religious triptychs, portraits of (deceiving) leaders, bucolic countryside with peasants. All the masks have fallen, the king is naked. Innocence is a thing of the past.

Internet Art allows us to deal with this cacophony of contracting information, of the flickering screens of binary bytes, of plastic facebook friends in new, necessary and beautiful ways. Internet art IS cacophony itself, a.k.a multimedia, and it plays with the boundaries of the real and the false, of the permanent and the ephemeral, of value and garbage.

Vuk ĆosićVuk Ćosić: ASCII History of Moving Images

One of the key thinkers who pondered over this process was Clement Greenberg back in the sixties, and I believe much of what he wrote is pertinent to our times and out Art, Internet Digital Art. So sit back, wash your Prozac down with some aspartame dietpop, and enjoy some internet art before tweeting your facebook friends about that neo-yoga class you will only do for four months before a new fad kicks in.


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