The closings of the Covid-19 Museum have made it abundantly clear that accession committees and the overlords of the Web do not have much love for net art. As museums over the past decade and hundreds of millions of dollars colonize Earth and Heaven to make room for hordes of painting and sculpture, billboard plastered renovations threatened to obliterate the web. (Nowhere is this more evident than Google’s Arts & Culture, an online repository for work from 2,000 museums and collections, of which media include “glassy glaze”, but not “video” – much less “HTML” or “gifs”.)
They’ve put their collections online, but a png of a Mexican mural stimulates about as much as a stamp; we need art that comes alive in browsers, and you will have to go a little off-road in the diaspora of blogs, strange domains and obscure YouTube channels to find it. While scanning the web for online artworks for remote consumption, Gizmodo wondered how did it go net artists just find art? What work led them to start up their terminals and Photoshop canvases and expand this fragile universe to the public? This week we share choices from the community of artisans and caregivers who created and saved net art for the world for free.
Fire ravaged by the dissolution of Flash
“I often dragged on the net looking for ‘digital animation’ and I was really involved with MUMBLEBOY’s work,” video artist and director Peter Burr told me about his early inspiration. Burr has mastered the medium in the intervening years: his videos feel like lying around in the unraveling psyche of a video game, where every flat surface teems with seizure-inducing statics (human skin, walls, etc. are all skinned with blinking patterns) to the hum of a synthesizer, in what he ‘ infinite dungeons “. His latest feature film, Dirt scraper, depicts the daily mundane patterns of a human population unaware that it is trapped in an eroding underground multiplex ruled by artificial intelligence. Burr’s animation drops into abstract patterns and materializes almost imperceptibly again (this hypnotized me for an hour in a gallery before noticing several people queuing for headphones).
Burr pointed to the 2000 Mumbleboy video “PAMPLEMOUSSEAs a specific inspiration. The absurdist, free-floating series of cartoon animals and robots that move and with the logic of a video game, but without purpose. “It undoubtedly informed the scenic dream logic that I used in my early animations similar. ‘
“Looking back at PAMPLEMOUSSE reminds me why I searched the internet so often for keywords related to ‘digital animation’. At that time (2000, 2001) I attended art school and I thought a lot about modernism in painting, especially the care for the essential properties of a material. When I learned new computer technology to create fine art, I longed for examples to refer to and MUMBLEBOY was one of the few I really clicked on. It is interesting to see the perfect vector and gradient qualities that FLASH lends to the shapes, colors and movements of his work. In a way, [my piece] ONLY WITH THE MOON is a curious conversation with that, but from the point of view of crispy pixel dithering and other techniques that emphasize the cellular quality of LCD screen technology. “
“Unfortunately, most [MUMBLEBOY’s] the work was set on fire by the dissolution of Flash. The dissolution of his work constantly makes me think about the uncertainty of the internet as a cultural platform. A lot of light has shed on that reality for me over the past decade. ‘