Net Art or Not Art: That is the Question

What is 'art'? What does it 'mean'? Isn't that the age old question?...

...This week we dived into the concept of Net Art right off the bat...so I decided to jump on it!

According to Net Specific: What is Net Art?, it is an art form that "draws on data from other Internet materials and websites, which helps give them their distinctive dynamics and transience."

When you google the definition of transience, you get: the state or fact of lasting only for a short time. I find this poetic in terms of our class. We're talking about finding our way out of the darkness and hoping that our time in the darkness is transient as well. Hoping that we can voice new ideas and create new laws to protect our privacy in this digital age, but also, what it means to be living in these digital spaces. 

I'm digressing but this topic reminded me of the Finstas we talked about a few classes ago: the fake instagrams teenagers are creating, almost like a digital image diary. How they are all photographers, choosing how to manipulate reality to capture an image or to capture an image and than manipulate reality. Are they artist? If we are defining artist as someone who creates art, in any way, shape, or form, then yeah-why not?

Image result for erin disposable camera gifDr. Zamora started class with the idea that when photographs became digitized, it was a "game changer" that was revolutionary in terms of production. When she asked us what we thought, you kind of heard crickets. What do we think? One student mentioned that this type of digitization changes the way we produce art and redefines what it means to be a photographer. I have to say I agree. I didn't know I had an opinion; truthfully, I never thought about it. No more dark rooms. No more dropping off the disposable cameras to get developed. No more crossing your fingers and hoping the picture wasn't blurry. Or taking a 'selfie' before they were called selfies just because you wanted to be in the picture and hoping that you actually caught your friends and yourself in the frame! "Kids these days" would be like "The Office"'s Erin and take the picture just to 'dispose' of it! 

Something else that struck me, in terms of digital alchemy, was the concept of the hyperreal, in art, and how there's an image that may seem real, but there are aspects of it that are manipulated. This reminded me of the Four Moves and a Habit approach (which I successfully taught in my classroom this week!) because you have to think about what looks real, yet may not be. This reminded me of alchemy because it's taking one thing and remixing it as another. 

We also talked about coding and how it is a form of creative writing, compared to a paint brush and canvas of the elder artists. I find this really interesting! We teach coding at the middle and elementary school level. There are picture books and baby books devoted to coding in Barnes and Nobles. On the one hand-this is great! On the other-and this is a stretch that encompasses way more than coding but-how close are we to becoming Ready Player One-and I'm serious! Look how far technology has taken us! How much further are we willing to go?

But back to the comparison-I guess that in today's world, we've gone the way of the keyboard more than the pen and paper. Take today for example: With the stormy weather, the lights kept flickering throughout my morning classes. My students were completing an On-Demand writing assignment that was to be submitted via our Google Classroom. When the lights began to flicker and they thought we'd get to do 'nothing', I just laughed. They looked confused until I explained that they really don't want the power to go out because if they can't get on their computers then they're going to have to write this essay by hand. They looked horrified! It was hysterical! 

So on that note, and the idea of Net Art, I think that it's art. I think that it's digital alchemy. I think that it's creation and connection and that that's wonderful. But I wonder and worry that, in term so of the internet and the web, we may go to far, that we can't get back.


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