Internet art (often called net art) is art or cultural production which uses the Internet as its primary medium or inspiration (but not necessarily as its subject). Artists working this way are sometimes called net artists.
In some cases there might be an analogy to earlier formal art forms like video art, which uses video as its medium - but is also very much about video, like some forms of painting. Some net artists see the Internet as only one component in a meta-artistic system, depending on their specific artistic approach. Some culture producers on the Internet liken the term "net art" or net.art to a pun, a recapitulation of the consumerist ideals of Pop Art.
Internet art can take concrete form in artistic websites, e-mail projects, artistic Internet software, Internet-based or networked installations, online video, audio or radio works, networked performances, code poetry and installations or projects offline. Internet art is part of new media art and electronic art. A few sub-genres of Internet art are software art, generative art, net.radio, browser art, web-specific art, spam art, click environments, code poetry, and net-poetry.
Internet art is rooted in a variety of artistic traditions and movements, and could maybe be seen as a radical extension of various art disciplines. Some Internet art projects are particularly related to conceptual art, Fluxus, pop art and performance art. Internet art was initially created in an institutional context, partly in the traditional art world and partly in the media art world. Early projects were performed in collaboration with museums and other art institutions, such as Roy Ascott's work La Plissure du Texte which was created for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris in 1983. Media art institutions such as Ars Electronica Festival in Linz or the Paris-based IRCAM, a research center for electronic music would also support or present early net art. The fact that both the computer and the internet have become a common, accessible technology has allowed a much broader scope of artists to enter the field, often completely independent from art institutions.
Internet art was very much in the picture between 1995 to 1998 when the general audience first discovered the Internet. Successful on and offline public venues such as Adaweb directed by Benjamin Weil, Rhizome initiated by artist and curator Mark Tribe and the Dx web site documentaX curated by Simon Lamuniere put Internet art on the map. The dot-com mania at the time created a double edged sword: it created a lot of attention for this type of art, but at the same time connected it to the soap bubble of online commerce in the minds eye of part of the audience. Currently, there is a strong tendency to look at Internet-related artworks in a wider context of art and technology, as also artists working with networks usually prefer to be contextualized within a general contemporary art discourse
above copied from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_art
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