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

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One final avenue of investigation must include the online journal or discussion forum. Many artists on a tight budget would find it unfeasible to subscribe to as many magazines as they would wish. However with the advent of the Internet, and its subsequent enthusiastic uptake by the majority of the established art community, there is now a proliferation of published material freely available online. Ireland's own contribution is from CIRCA Art Magazine via its website reCIRCA.com43, a dynamic reissuing of their paper based publication. The magazine is not reproduced in its entirety, however a fair number of articles and reviews are available from the current and past issues. The website also hosts digital artwork projects, acting as a high profile forum for digital artists to showcase their work, as well as hosting an online discussion forum for exchanges of opinions, feedback on articles, and for debates on wider art related issues.

Contrasting the broad scope art publication websites such as are more focussed ones, for example The Sculpture Centre44 website which caters specifically for the traditional sculpture community. Like the larger gallery and museums, this website promotes a physical institution in a geographic area. Unlike some of the larger institutions, it has the freedom to focus on a chosen medium of sculpture, which it does through informative articles, the sculpture news section, and the online discussion forum. The Forum highlights opportunities for sculptors, such as internships or calls for proposals, as well as providing a free area for technical questions and discussions. With a little research similar websites can be found focusing on almost any aspect of artistic production and specialist medium, from silk painters45 to mystery writers46. This aspect of the Internet is one that is directly related to its astounding success as a new medium in the public's imagination. Discussion forums provide users with an opportunity to put enquiries out to the Internet audience for response and to initiate dialogue. This concept developed out of one of the earliest popular uses of the Internet - the virtual "bulletin boards".47

The Internet provides artists with global access not only to a broad range of information but also to specialised information, which might otherwise be difficult to obtain. The Internet also provides the illusion of direct communication between artists and art institutions, which can easily develop into true direct communication via e-mail or discussion forums.

The advent of database driven art sales websites have hopefully had a direct and positive financial impact for artists, but this would require some further investigation into the actual sales statistics for said websites to confirm or refute. Artists must not become relaxed in their attitudes to these opportunities, as business is business, and there is plenty of scope for fraud as well as profit.

The humble desktop home computer has become a doorway into the largest information and communication forum ever, a forum in which everyone can become an active participant. The next few decades will reveal if this has mainly been to artists' benefit or detriment, but so far the Internet is proving its worth thanks to the vast commitment of artistic institutions to participate actively in the Internet's growth and development.

by James Hayes
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