Thursday, April 8, 2010

nothing really exists in the usual way

what is art when it's made for the web?

for me, the work composed of zeroes and ones lives in the non-physical world wide web, which is its defining context. this art is meant to be seen on a computer screen by one person, generally alone. it is a private experience, as close as i can get to the interior of the viewer's own mind. is an intimate piece, not for crowds, a mystery theater piece after hesse in steppenwolf.

web art is technically ephemeral, fragile, has no weight, no physical substance, is easily stored, incurs no shipping or presentation costs, is free and available to anyone anywhere in the world who has access to high speed internet and enough RAM. the images do not exist in physical space, they are extremely public and open, but are not for sale, cannot be touched or altered by the viewer, except where this has been built into the experience. the art exists as an unnumbered multiple in a space with a forgettable address, one among trillions. while making it requires learning software or writing code, it doesn't automatically fall into "conceptual art." whatever importance it may acquire cannot be quantified in financial terms, the time duration online is uncertain; if the piece is not picked up for preservation by a cultural institution, it will decay technically and no longer be visible -- or the artist can remove it without easily found traces.

the www platform has allowed me to make a piece that is like an opera, or a novel, or a philosophical tract, or a poem, or a play, or a series of paintings, or a movie, or a drawing, or a dream -- at the same time that nothing really exists in the usual way.

this phrase, "nothing really exists in the usual way," has for awhile been the primary mantra of my life, so i'm deeply satisfied to be working in such an appropriate medium.