1st draft, thesis statement

Initially I started with the development of internet (cold war, arpanet) but after talking to Z.G I decided to reframe it and focus less on technology but critical art/theory. I think it suits the project better, since Ken Wark’s advice was to explore the aesthetics of linking/in between spaces. Plus this will put less focus on technology itself, but more on experience.

I’ll edit it through and send to clive soon… the first few paragraphs are OK, the rest really needs work. (maybe I should stop writing at 5am in the morning hmm)


The advent of the internet has reshaped much of how we live, learn and communicate with each other through enabling new ways of interaction such as internet forums and social networking or accelerating the speed of delivery through search engines and instant messaging.  Most importantly, this network of networks has allowed for an unprecedented amount of content generated: youtube videos, tumblr images, blogs of all genre, collaborative writing, open software, status-updates etc …  all of which, could not exist several decades ago.

Such a huge socio-technological change led to the rise of groups such as net.art and international fluxus in the mid 90’s led by pioneers such as Jodi and Nam June Paik. These groups were all united by the common medium of internet-based artwork, even if the themes explored varied from artist to artist. Artists exploited new technologies by creating flash based browser experiences, exploratory websites with no meaning or ‘spam’ ascii artwork which could only be understood by viewing the source code. They took their discussions to mailing lists and chat-logs, emphasising the free and open-sourced nature of the internet compared to traditional journal publishing. In those lists, they questioned and challenged the myth of internet democracy and explored new ways of shared public space.

Through their codeworks#, net. artists revealed how the ‘natural’ environment of the internets with associated myths of freedom and democracy to be highly constructed, and even controlled by corporations under the guise of ‘user-friendliness’ and ‘interactive design’. Artists such as Lialiana, Aronson and Jodi experimented with layered applets, crashing screens and new capitalist structures which gave birth to the term ‘browser art’.

These experiments did not go unnoticed by academia, with new media theorists such as Geert Lovink, Alexander Galloway, Clay Shirky, Jaron Lanier, Alex Bauwens and McKenzie Wark critically analysing these new forms of subculture emerging from the internet and the subversive gestures by the artists (clunky sentance, rephrase!) In Cubitt’s seminal text, Digital Aesthetics where he explores how the links between hypertext, idealogical emergent spaces and playful cyberspace. (elaborate more!)

While net.art was short-lived and quickly taken over by the rise of corporate Web 2.0, it inspired other movements such as hacker culture, makers/physical computing  and to some extent; was absorbed by the very corporations it tried to resist. Projects such as Netomat and Hell(dot)com were either developed commercially to become products or sold as artefacts.

(everything here needs rephrasing! but i want to just get it out)
Such is the climate of today’s internet culture, where platforms control content [ insert rant about product-lock-in, selective bubbling, corporate agendas, ] where the internet is no longer a singular unit network of networks but rather a networks nesting in other networks – fragmented and disparate, with each user experiencing a different form of the internet based on search engines (marketing pigeonholing). This control society of logins, accounts and unit matrices, the ability to browse and escape from this military industrial complex becomes more and more pertinent. (actually i think capitalist-data weapon is more accurate… needs rephrasing in any case)

Therefore, it is worthwhile to explore the internet as a medium and art practice again. (what a fucking lame ass statement). The sheer ubiquity of the internet – now available in tablet, smartphones and even within embedded objects as well as responsive design makes this more important than ever. What was originally a niche area in net.art, can now be considered ‘public’ art as the digital divide continues to shrink every day.

{insert more paragraphs on links, aesthetics.}


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