Chapter 1:
Internet Art
Chapter 2:
Chapter 3:
Digital Weakness
Table of Figures
James Hayes' art website

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Beyond the artists briefly reviewed in this chapter there is a large and growing body of artists experimenting with the medium of the Internet, which could only be described suitably in the context of a much more extensive publication. Other artistic areas that have not been covered in this thesis but that are worthy of mention would include the diverse experimental steps towards virtual 3D spaces (mostly taken on by the computer games community at this stage). Also of note are some website designers' non-commercial work, and the many narrative and non-narrative branches of interactive animation.

Unlike other artistic tools and media, the Internet is very much in its infancy and changing every day at the rapid pace of technological development. This can quickly lead to a dated look on a project which is only 6 months old, and problems with software and hardware compatibility can cause some work to no longer appear the way the artist designed it, or even to appear at all. These are considerations that all Internet artists should be aware of, and many do try to counter-act these issues by keeping up to date with the current technological developments and by continually updating their websites in response. This requires constant vigilance, a commitment that goes well beyond the needs of any traditional media's upkeep requirements.

All artistic media has gone through a trial period during which the artistic community tested the limits of the materials, discovered the inherent permanence or frailties, and came to some sort of understanding of the nature of the medium. This is the exciting process happening right now: the Internet is struggling to succeed in some shape or form, and is possibly doomed to fade away as another experimental oddity. This hardly seems likely at this point due to the Internet's almost global coverage and acceptance by many big money corporations (Internet banking for instance), but no one can see what lies in the future.

The artists who are emerging most successfully onto the Internet scene are those with a commitment to continually engage with and make changes to their work. This fulfils two necessary functions, one technically being the on-going need to keep digital content current with the pace of technological development. Secondly these artists directly target a commonly accepted trait of the Internet public and of the Internet itself, that is a certain impatient need for ongoing change and diversity. This is intrinsically programmed into the crawler software, called spiders or bots, which compile the databases of website information for the search engine websites. The software judges and ranks websites based on certain criteria such as popularity (volume of traffic), links from other websites, and how current the content is. Content is judged to be current if the files have been updated regularly. So artists who interact with and change their online work regularly are more likely to make it into search engine databases and thus be found by the viewing public. Artists have never "made it" hiding away in their garret, and this is one more example of that truth.

Another quality that dictates the success of online artistic ventures is the level of understanding of the Internet as a medium that is brought to bear on the work. Many websites fail to keep viewers through bad design and implementation, and this holds true for artistic websites as well. Just as a painter or sculptor must understand their materials, the digital Internet artist must also be educated. As the technology of the Internet evolves, some limiting factors will change and new possibilities for experimentation will arise, just as photographic technology has changed and developed since its invention. Artists with the drive and commitment to push the boundaries of the Internet will keep this new medium alive and help to direct its ultimate development. There will be a strong demand on artists for continuous education of their Internet skills, as anyone working in the industry will understand, and this will inevitably separate those dabbling in the medium from those with a strong commitment and artistic vein of creativity for Internet art.

by James Hayes
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