Cultural Logic in Cyberspace: Web Art & Postmodernism
The desire to venture into unexplored «landscape» guides the direction of new genres. With the advent of the Internet, information-based technology has enabled artists to investigate a new art form, a cerebral «medium for creative expression», web art. Web art surfaced in the mid- 90s to receive, almost immediately, much support and encouragement by museums, foundations and other traditional institutions. Even though the fast-developing art medium is in its infancy and the «criteria for artistic evaluation are still being developed», curators, critics and the art public have not only embraced the web aesthetic but the conceptual elements encoded within as well. The phenomenon of acceptance and support enjoyed by such an emerging art form can be assertively attributed to our culture in general, but more specifically the underlying ideas manifested over time through postmodernism. Postmodernism gave birth to «conceptual art», an art practice which suggested that the art had traversed from object to idea, from a tangible thing to a «system of thought». Technology has created a new reproductive medium, which by its very nature confirms the ideas and canons of postmodernism both aesthetically as well as contextually. Web art has enabled the artist to interrogate the conventional codes embedded in the materiality of the art and thus transcend traditional stylistic conventions. Formal values, which governed art throughout modernism, concerning originality, uniqueness, authenticity, autonomy, transcendence and aesthetic quality were questioned and thus deconstructed. The format and content of web art succinctly encompass the postmodern concept of representation and the ideas of copy vs. original, artist vs. viewer, spatial vs. temporal and visual vs. verbal. The very characteristics of the web medium such as infinite reproducibility, interpretative interactivity, non-physicality, and coded language, contribute to the affirmation of these postmodern concerns. The parallel between postmodern theory and a pure art form that coherently echoes its concepts, manifests the acceptance of web art into the microcosmic art community as well as the larger, info-driven society.