Duncan Alexander has an informative post on screen and print resolution and the uncertainties of scale for art and/or images in the digital arena.
One wonders who his intended audience is for this, since only five of us really care and we already know. Dragan Espenschied has covered it, I've covered it, Nullsleep has covered it, Jon Williams has covered it, and now Duncan. The computer-literate world just follows where Apple and Google lead and the art world is like "resolution? isn't that something a corporate board passes?" No one ultimately gives a shit about how art looks on a computer screen, is my cynical conclusion after preaching about it for several years.
The issue just reared its head in the real world. Recall that Nullsleep posted some CSS a few months back that you could put in your web pages to defeat the ubiquitous involuntary pixel-smoothing of modern browsers. Well, Google recently changed its Chrome specs in such a way as to override anti-anti-aliasing.
Resistance is futile: your experience of the web WILL be like smooth jazz even if they have to beat you to death with Kenny G's sax.
Trolling, bon mots, concrete poetry...you name it, you got it
The price of commissioned tweets is high to distinguish them from ordinary tweeting
hat tip Hypothete for signage
Last night at 0-Day Art's presentation at Eyebeam, the term "net art" was bandied about as if we all knew what it was.
It could be something practiced by one of 13, or possibly 14 types of actors. (See discussion with Duncan Alexander on whether the "wtf is a net artist" list is a catalog or a shrug.)
It could also mean something different depending on when it occurred, for example:
The Josephine Bosma era (early web through the Dotcom crash). Any artist interviewed by Josephine Bosma. The heyday of Steve Dietz at the Walker Art Center, or Dia Foundation's attempt at an online gallery.
The Blogosphere era (roughly 2001 - 2007). Rhizome transitions from a ListServ to a blog. Eyebeam Reblog (now kaput). Surf clubs. YTMND and 4Chan thrive as non-blog sites. Rise of Delicious and Flickr. Livejournal, MySpace collectivize the blog model, leading to:
The Social Media era (2007 to the present). Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. Various attempts to make networking on these giant sites "performative." Trolling and friending as bullshit relational aesthetics. The economy of liking. "Aggregation" beyond the dreams of Borges.
(hat tip Lindsay Howard for Josephine Bosma link.)
Update: Add YouTube to the blogosphere era - guess it has to go somewhere. But did anyone call themselves YouTube artists the way some people (actually) tried to call themselves twitter artists? Seems like that was more of a media creation-slash-museum misfire, a la the Guggenheim's non-paradigm shifting YouTube show.
Update 2: Since I already had net art being slung around in the Duncan convo I decided it needed to be bandied about in this post.
Are you suggesting that people can't write on the subject of net art without a consensus, or that there are ways to locate boundaries? How would you go about assembling a group to discuss tendencies? What I really think you're saying is that the blurred boundaries of the term "net art" are what keep the label off of the metaphorical packaging, and that's the better way to go. If I'm right, why would that be your opinion? You seem to be pointing out a big lie underlying many people's initial assumptions about art practices in relation to the net. Apparent as its incidentals are, I'm not seeing it quite yet.
Chan tackles the issue of how 0s-and-1s expressions build institutional cred which is then monetized or monetizable, using as examples her own work ("Installation Fail is a whitespace tumblr that uses these non-discursive codes of image curation to critique the trope of found object installation in contemporary art") [link] and a select group of peer efforts such as Sterling Crispin's Greek New Media Shit, which collects video, GIFs, and images (mostly from the same peer group) that reference classical Greek sculpture.
Four years ago Ed Halter wrote a pre-review of a show in Belgium with the premise:
Marx and Engels claimed that capitalism's "constant revolutionizing of production" ultimately means "all that is solid melts into air." The contemporary art market, however, describes an opposite process: innovations such as the flat-screen monitor, the digital print, and the editioned DVD, have helped transform immaterial forms like video and net.art into a new generation of physical, sellable objects.
That show centered around a group of artists Halter championed (Eddo Stern, Cory Arcangel, Paul Slocum) and it's by and large not the same group as Chan's. They were, however, the artists being written up on "art and technology" websites four years ago just as the Chan group (the Chanon?) are the ones being written up on those sites now (Crispin, Oliver Laric, Rafaël Rozendaal). The Halter group mostly wasn't offering commodity critique as their art; rather, the show asked whether their work could be commodified, which I said was a boring topic.
The lack of institutional memory here seems very much of a piece with capitalism. Oh, yeah, those were the artists we were trying to sell four years ago, these are the NEW! IMPROVED! artists of today, who embed institutional critique more deeply within their work.
Elsewhere in his email, Alexander notes that I'm being equally vague with my counter-Chanon of "internet art types" that range beyond the small groups that crave or attain the recognition of the same one or two institutions. "Keeping the label off the metaphorical packaging" seems a noble goal -- well said. Championing outsiders, the overlooked, and the institutionally blackballed without strictly matching artists to categories and without regard to their eventual sale-ability interests me more than the latest rollout of commodity critique.
Nullsleep posts some CSS code that you could add to a web page to make browsers read your GIFs and pixel art correctly when resized. The illustration above, showing an image resized using the bicubic (smooth) and nearest neighbor (sharp) methods, is his; it gets across clearly how ugly "smoothing" can be for an exquisite design. The problem is, 99% of developers can't see this, and will continue to insist that mandatory, "on by default" edge smoothing is what we all want and need when we surf the web. ("Smoothing" doesn't just occur when you zoom, it happens anytime someone codes an image's dimensions to appear larger than the image.)
Dragan Espenschied had told me a while back about a Firefox Add-on for crisp resizing. That's designed to customize the individual's browsing experience ("please render pages correctly kthx"), whereas the code in Nullsleep's post applies this "image-rendering" function on the publisher side, so that various browsers will read your page the way you specify.
It would be best, of course, if the problem could be solved at the source. In other words, make smoothing optional in browsers and educate people about the fundamental differences in how images are displayed on the web (see comments here). As an independent publisher, one shouldn't have to code for every contingency of how each browser is going to read your page. You can custom craft a theme and then two years later you will be prompted to update your theme, which means losing all those carefully worked out modifications. My own solution has been to size GIFs and pixel art exactly as they are meant to be seen, which even meant remaking/reposting some older GIFs.
The above drawings were originally full-screen but were resized for the blog. Since browsers no longer read GIFs, these simulations were made using HTML5 from an app that draws horizontals and verticals in the cloud and pays Google and Apple 5 cents per rectangle. Just kidding about that last part!
In an interview in the early 2000s, Steven Lisberger, director of the first Tron movie (1982), talked about his goals for the film. Artists, he believed, could bring inspiring life to new technologies that might still be dry, baffling, and insular to the general public. With Tron, he sought to bestow a new kind of mythological identity on the circuit boards and spreadsheets of the emerging computer industry, and largely succeeded: the film introduced visions of cyberspace that have endured. Its data-mazes and menacing walls of security encryption laid the foundations for the 3D networks of global interconnection described in William Gibson’s book Neuromancer, published two years later, and its fully -fleshed out avatars (with or without motherboard spandex) have become a virtual reality staple.
Lisberger complained in the same interview that the Web had not fulfilled its promise, lamenting that it had, by the turn of the Millennium, become a dispiriting place of porn and gossip. Few could argue with that, but what might have disappointed him more was that the Web didn’t look like Tron. Humanlike avatars zoomed through pure geometry and clinked glasses in virtual cafes in films such as The Matrix, while actual people, sitting at actual computers, engaged in a form of mass, high speed letter writing. Ten years later, we’re still typing away while our uploaded selves frolic only in cable TV science fiction shows.
The image accompanying the essay (slightly enhanced) comes from Duncan Alexander's tour of Alpha World.
Thanks to ARTINFO for the shout about the essay.