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<eyebeam><blast> net art

To the extent that net art emerges through
the browsers and software packages that impose
basic similarities on their contents, and
insofar as net art enters into unexceptional,
mundane screen contexts, it is difficult
to imagine widespread acclaim.  Perhaps the
reason Olu Oguibe finds online hypertext fiction
more impressive than other net art is that
the software languages for graphic and auditory
work are more constraining.  Those languages
(and the tools formed with them) are in turn shaped
by the secretive, competitive, uncooperative processes
of developing the "products" through which art is to appear.
Ted Nelson has asserted that designing

    for the little screen on the desktop
    has the most in common with designing for
    the Big Screen (directing theatrical films).
    Interactive software needs the talents of a
    Disney, a Griffith, a Welles, a Hitchcock, a
    Capra, a Bob Abel.  The integration of software
    cannot be achieved by committee, where everyone
    has to put in their own addition.... It must be
    controlled by dictatorial artists with full say on
    the final cut.    (from The Art of Human Computer
    Interface Design)

Whereas hypertext fiction can be "integrated" by
individuals, other domains of net art are still
plagued by the excessive dual demands of coding complexity
and semantic complexity.  Put otherwise, net art
that has a software-like behavior has two components:
the code and the executed (running) program.  Mastering
both program and code are virtually impossible when
the industry underlying the delivery of the work is
constantly changing.

Nevertheless, Lev Manovich's claim that looking
for local schools of net art would be like looking for
regional variations on Coca-cola may be overstating
the case.  To say this is, I believe, to deny the
possibility of culturally specific computer languages.
Object oriented languages may impose functional similarities,
but they may not prevent local "vocabularies" inflected
with the spiritual and cultural biases of their collective
authors.  Thus far computers have been inaccessible to
much of the world, so it may be too soon to discount the
potential for regionalisms.

Andy Deck

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