Screen Worlds: Net Art and Online Communities

Moderated by: and Kathy Rae Huffman
Date and Time: January 29, 2021

New York, USA Fri, Jan 29, 2021 at 4:00 pm EST
Los Angeles, USA Fri, Jan 29, 2021 at 1:00 pm PST
UTC, Time Zone Fri, Jan 29, 2021 at 9:00 pm

  View the Recording of the Session: https://vimeo.com/511376941

Session Description:

Net Art has been with us since the early days of the Internet, certainly in a more structured way since the mid-nineties. Set in a time of a global socio-cultural advent of Internet Technologies, this artform’s use of the Internet medium sets it apart from other contemporary art movements delivering specific aesthetic, cultural and social experiences, seemingly outside of the rationale of the major artworld. Net Art can certainly be viewed as a phenomenological platform revealing how society and technology co-constitute each other. Two decades after the pioneering work in Net Art gives us perhaps enough of a distance to revisit it, and analyze it through various prisms, including McLuhan’s Four Laws of Media (The Tetrad) as a means of focusing awareness on very hidden or unobserved qualities in our culture and technology through Retrieval, Reversal, Obsolescence, and Amplification. After all, the nature of media determines the nature of society, and once new technology comes into the social milieu it cannot cease to permeate it until every institution is saturated.

Participants of Screenworlds: Net Art and Online Communities are asked to contribute to the discussion about the beginnings of Net Art, as well as its influence on art and culture, and how it has evolved in the past two decades, via the perceptual, the historical, and the analogic prisms.

Have Net Artists been able to create a unique and adequate art experience of the Net? Is there an antagonism between Net Art and Art Institutions? How have the developments in digital technology affected YOUR use of the Internet for artmaking? Was the White Box ever a good place for the presentation of Net Art? How did communities around Net Art grow, beyond the set parameters of the artworks? What will the future of Net Art bring?

The first SPARKS online zoom discussion, Screenworlds: Net Art and Online Communities, features ten presenters who have responded to the topic, the beginnings of Net Art, as well as its influence on art and culture, and how it has evolved in the past two decades via the perceptual, the historical, and the analogic prisms. Following the presentations of the three-minute lightning talks, the zoom audience is encouraged to engage in moderated discussion.

  • Have net artists been able to create a unique and adequate art experience of the net?
  • Is there an antagonism between net.art and Art Institutions?
  • How have the developments in digital technology affected the artistic use of the Internet for artmaking?
  • Was the White Box ever a good place for the presentation of net.art?
  • How did communities around net.art grow, beyond the set parameters of the artworks?
  • What will the future of Net Art bring?

The discussion following the presentations will reflect on these questions and the presentations. Melentie Pandilovski and Kathy Rae Huffman, are the Digital Arts Community co-moderators.

To Protect and Server

An open source net.art project that subverts and challenges Google’s ReCaptcha software by having the public choose images of “police brutality” in order to advance to an online police training simulator game.

Tally Saves the Internet
Joelle Dietrick     

A browser extension that transforms data advertisers collect into a multiplayer game. Its core goal is to make us more aware of our screen worlds.

Net.art, a Chapter in the Groundhog-day Saga of Historic Avant-guards
Vuk Ćosić     

Our duty as net.artists was to help propagate the virus of freedom and our refusal of the art world and of social context was translated into serious propositions of better communications, interfaces, and ways of creating and collaborating. Our job was NOT to fulfill the promises of interactivity, multimediality, beauty, sublimeness, realism, or anything like that — those were given by the makers and vendors of hardware, software, infrastructures, and protocols.

A Brief History of Early net.art Initiatives and Encounters Hosted by Desk.nl in Amsterdam in the Mid-90s
Walter van der Cruijsen     

Between 1994 and 1996, desk.nl served as a host but also as a meeting place for artists, activists, curators, critics, engineers, hackers, and others to help them explore possibilities of ‘new media’ and to support them in realizing online artworks and online communities for discussion and dissemination.

Erik Hoff Zepka     

The engagement with new media and net.art over the last decade, especially as the social and phenomenal core of technoscientific society, is central to Zepka’s practice.

VRestaurant: Food for Thought – the Contribution of the Virtual to the Transformation of the Real
Rejane Spitz     

VRestaurant: Food for Thought is an immersive, synesthetic, gastronomic, and collaborative artistic installation that brings to the table some major challenges we face today in relation to the production and consumption of food, on a global scale. Will we be able to feed 10 billion people on the planet in a healthy and sustainable way by 2050? Global food production threatens climate stability and the resilience of ecosystems, causing accelerated environmental degradation on the planet. Unhealthy diets – both those that cause malnutrition and those that lead to obesity – are another source of concern about the future. Electronic art can help promote awareness, engagement, and social change with regard to healthy diets and sustainable food production.

Amay Kataria     

Since its inception in 2020, Momisafe asks “How have our interpersonal relationships with friends, family, and loved ones been affected?” The tactility of intimacy has been tattered and the strength of the internet has been put to a test…the pandemic has inspired artists and creative practitioners to innovate alternate forms to achieve intimacy, connection, and togetherness.

Rainforest Awakens, Interactive Telematic Performances
Tania Fraga     

A revisiting of her 2001 VRML work in a ZOOM performance. “Today, as the medium becomes more widely available as cultural and entertainment tools/experiences, I believe it is more critical than ever to contextualize the technologies and rethink the cultural production process”

History of the Berlin net.art Scene in the 1990s
Valie Djordjevic     

In the 1990s Berlin was one of the hubs of the European net.art scene with a strong presence of online communities. I was part of the Internationale Stadt Berlin which was an artist’s and cultural community project dealing with representing community and arts projects in the early internet.

90’s Mailing List Culture – Nettime, Faces, Syndicate, and Spectre
Diana McCarty     

How these lists were formed, how they operated, and how they became important in developing critical net culture and a context for net.art to emerge.

How I met the Internet (Web, Telnet, Gopher)
Hans Bernhard     

As part of the early net.art avant-garde with etoy (1994-1998), I understood that the internet was a new organism and that this was where I would spend the rest of my life doing art, living, and communicating. I realized that within a few seconds and my head imploded.



Dr Melentie Pandilovski is a Phenomenologist, Art Theorist/Historian, Curator. His research deals with examining the links between art, culture, science/technology. He is Director of Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre in Mount Gambier, South Australia. He has curated more than 200 projects including SEAFair (Skopje Electronic Art Fair 1997 – 2011), Laika the True Story, Within the Frame of Refresh, Web Page Design Project, VRML/Web3D Art, etc. He is author of Arts & Science – the Intersection (re)engineered in: “A Companion to Curation, Wiley Blackwell (2019); The Phenomenology of (Non) Habitual Spaces for the Bioarts in: “Naturally Postnatural”, Catalyst Series (2017), “How biotechnology and society co-constitute each other”, Technoetic Arts Journal, Intellect Ltd. (2012); “On Modes of Consciousness(es) and Electronic Culture”, In Glimpse, San Diego, 2000. He has edited Marshall McLuhan & Vilém Flusser Communication & Aesthetics Theories Revisited” (2015); Energy, Biopolitics, Resistance Strategies and Cultural Subversion (2012), The Apparatus of Life and Death (2011), Art in the Biotech Era (2008). Consultant editor of Artlink’s “Bio Art: Life in the Anthropocene” (2014). He took part in numerous Net-Time, Syndicate, Spectre initiatives.

Kathy Rae Huffman

Kathy Rae Huffman is an American curator, networker, and writer. Since the early 1980s, she has curated media exhibitions, juried competitions, lectured and coordinated events for international media art festivals and arts initiatives, including AFI, CAA, ISEA, D.E.A.F., V2, SCCA, Ars Electronica, and EMAF. Her early interest in artists’ television and video art, and her ongoing passion for feminist strategies in online environments promote activist positions. Huffman co-founded FACES: Gender/Technology/Art, an online community for women (1997); VRML Art (later Web3D Art) with Van Gogh TV (1998-2003); and she co-authored Pop~Tarts, the multi-media column for the Telepolis Journal (1996-2000). She curated Digital Power: Activism, Advocacy and the Influence of Women Online for ACM SIGGRAPH (2020). Huffman currently resides in Southern California.