Saturday, April 23, 2011

Digital Analysis Essay: What is Web-Art?

     The idea of web art strikes me as quite interesting.  As an artist that is currently studying art history, web art seems very radical.  The fact that I can be sitting in my own home and experience art via the internet in such a way that I can be moved just as much as if I was in an art gallery seems strange.  And yet, it is possible because of technology and because of the human imagination.  In today’s world, if an artist can imagine something, they can make it happen.  Our imaginations have grown so much with the advent of technologies like the internet and digital mediums that we are no longer bound by conventional ideas of what art is.
            With internet art, the audience is no longer expected to be stagnant when taking in the creative aesthetics of art.  Where the audience was once a group of wealthy, well educated, and artistically trained scholars walking quietly through an exhibit, and either nodding politely or turning up their noses in disbelief and protest, the audience now consists of everyone with any access to a computer, from any walk of life, with any amount of education or artistic experience or inexperience.  Art and the idea of art takes on a completely different meaning, and the question of what art is, no longer has one determined answer.  The once stagnant audience is now encouraged to interact with art, and to become a part of the process in making it.  The art is no longer finished by the artist, but by the audience that interacts with the artistic presentation.  The audience then becomes the artist.
            In my studio art courses, the process of making art is stressed.  We have looked deeply into the ways in which we go about making art and why we make certain choices along the way toward a final product.  When it comes to any type of media art, and especially web art, the process must be above all else, the most important part of the piece of work.  With web-art, the challenge is to not only see the outcome through your eyes as the artist, but to see it through the eyes of your audience. 
            Gallery 9 at the Walker Art Museum is an interesting site that includes web-based art.  The site incorporates the viewer extensively.  The collection of works can be seen in any order and allows the audience to make several choices.  Some of the art is simply a picture or presentation while other pieces allow the audience to delve further.  This gives the audience a sense of responsibility or importance.  Society leads us to believe that we can do whatever we want to do.  A sense of individualism is very strong.  Because of this way of life, most audiences want to make their own decisions, and this site lets the audience do just that.  The audience chooses what they want to look at and for how long they want to look at it.  The audience is very much in control throughout their experience and interaction on this site. 
            Michael Ray-Von has another interesting site, although, his site is not as wonderful as Gallery 9.  I appreciate the site as a whole because it incorporates a few different mediums, but it does not seem very expressive when considering the ideas behind web-art.  The site is interactive in that you decide which piece to look at, but most of the links are to stagnant art that does not have any specific meaning when placed within the site.  It seems more like a simple portfolio of some of the artist’s pieces instead of one piece of artwork that is interactive and ready for an audience to view as a whole.  Each piece is of its own standard and own message.  For the most part, I was slightly disappointed.
            My most favorite site for a good demonstration of what web-art is, was Oliver Laric’s site.  Although each link takes you to a specific project (similar to a portfolio), once you arrive at the project, you get to see all of the different ideas the artist tried.  You are immersed into the artist’s process. This to me is an important aspect of art in general and especially web-art because it is what makes the experience personal.  The audience does not just look at one piece of art and walk away, they instead can begin to understand what the artist is thinking when he creates his artwork.  The audience gets a sense of participating in the process and can use their imagination to decipher the meaning and messages that the artist feels are important.
            By looking through these three sites, we can better understand web-art.  They are each very different in their approach to artistic ways of communicating, in their approach to involving the audience, and in their approach to voicing their processes.  Each site is unique in that they each go about answering the question of what art is in a different fashion.  However, each site represents the new era of artistic approach very well.  After all, the new era of using art and time to communicate a message, is based around the audience participation.  This era of art is far different from the audience taking a back seat in their stiff-collard dress clothes; it brings the audience into the driver’s seat with a relaxed style, and forces them to pay attention to everything around them when viewing the works.  No longer does art only incorporate the visual senses, but in now incorporates the auditable and the physical senses as well.  Web-art gives art as a whole, an entirely new meaning, a new definition, and a new basis for formulating thought.  Web-art is proof that the imagination is an artist’s only limiter.

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