What is (Web) Art?
Member dialogue on New Art for the Internet, constructing a Definition
Dear R2001 members,
now that the recent exhibitions are behind us, we want to concentrate
for a while on promoting the R2001 website. We really want to make it
the number one Art Site on the Internet if we can. We believe that this
is the best way we have for the rest of this year to gain future
benefits for all members in terms of publicity, exhibition opportunities
and general prestige.
As part of this we want to give R2001 greater credibility among art
institutions (offline and online) by creating an area of the World
LightHome that establishes as having some kind of leadership in terms of
new ideas. One of our strengths has been the way WebArt has developed.
Its presentation at our exhibitions has already attracted the interest
and attention of some quite 'serious' figures in the art world. We
propose to push this further now by opening up a new WebArt section
distinct from the current 'Digital Experiments' section (this will
become simply 'Digital Art' when the WebArt section is ready).
Because the WebArt idea is new, and because we want to be taken
seriously on this, we feel we must establish proper definitions and
guidelines for what WebArt actually is. To do this we have created two
new pages. One of them is a 'WebArt Manifesto' that is a serious attempt
to define a new artform, give it a name, say what is special about it,
and give R2001 a genuine claim to be the originators of 'WebArt'
(spelled in that way) as a new term. The proposed Manifesto is at
please take a careful look at it and give us your opinions through the
Mailing List. It is important that we all have an opportunity to discuss
this text before it goes public.
We also need to follow through the ideas in the WebArt Manifesto and
ensure that they are properly reflected in a clear set of guidelines as
to what is included as WebArt within the World LightHome. So we have
also set up some fairly strict rules about this at
Again, please take a careful look at it and give us your opinions
through the Mailing List. We want to get this exactly right, and to give
everybody a voice in reshaping this material, if necessary, before it
Please remember, we are doing this to build R2001's reputation and be
taken seriously in major art institutions. If it all seems rather
serious and heavy, it is because it is really targeted at a particular
audience that needs to be addressed in a certain, rather academic, way.
At the same time, our strict rules are an attempt to avoid a situation
where we say one thing in the Manifesto, and then ignore it when
displaying work in the WebArt section.
Please let us know what you think.
12 Oct 1998 21:47:24 +0100
Mon, 12 Oct 1998 23:48:35 +0100
In message <36227FDA.36E@pixi.com>, Pygoya <email@example.com> writes
>Gerald and fellow members,
>Not to bore you but I have been formulating my own thoughts on what is
>"cyberart" since my online startup.
>My very early effort to mess with html as art:
>Have a nice day around the r2001.com world-
Thanks for your comments. You have a long and distinguished track
record in pioneering these new developments and I am having discussions
with Aleksi on the best way to acknowledge that within the new WebArt
section as he builds it.
I agree Bryan,,,,,, are we talking about WebArt as a tangible art piece > as opposed to digital art that can be cyber and tangible,,, True and not true. First, web sites. I have come across some web sites that are slick and clever, full of the most up to date tools and gadgets- does that make them art? Are they created by artists- or constructed by craftsman? ( familiar question isn't it? " are you an artist or a craftsman?") AND, I have come across sites that are poetic, beautiful and inspiring-. Of course, that is my opinion- and I am glad I am not the one deciding which is which. Second, the art. To touch, to hold - to have. Generally verbs associated with visual art. Well, until now. Cyber art is not a material thing-( no holding and stuff). Does that change the aesthetics of the work? Only for the buyer I guess. The medium is different- the way of exposure is different, but it is art ( as far as my criterias are concerned ) I am a painter, my web art originates from a "traditional" art piece-( hey, I simply love to paint) but since I am the artist I take the liberties to change and continue working on my paintings once they are "inside" the computer ( great tools, stuff I couldn't do otherwise). In the end, the physical work of art is different than the digital work of art. They are interrelated but independent. I consider them both to be valid pieces of art ( depending on how valid I am as an artist I guess) As Aleski mentioned, it is a very complicated issue. Some of the works are "mixed media".Where does one end and the other start, and what makes it art anyway? In music we have come to accept computerized sounds, computerized sounds in combination with traditional sounds and instruments. Most of us can appreciate it as music. For the time being I feel that Aleski is right, 1) Development of this new form of art strengthens and it gets recognition 2) It is maybe the only field where R2001 can claim to to be the world-leader. 3) WebArt is so young and developing with huge leaps, thus offering incredible possibilities for developing something great. We should never walk away from something that today looks blurry, difficult, hard to comprehend - in the leading edge it is always like that. There is nothing bad, or weak in our past, but there is no reason not to walk ahead, and still maintaining the strengths from the past.
-- Carla G Sindle Symbolic Expressionism http://www.netcom.com/~cswindle Art Shows and Updates http://www.angelfire.com/ca/Sindle/tea.html Esoteric Galleries http://www.EsotericArt.com/fringe/art/symbolic/CarlaSindle/Carla.htm
Sebastian Marquez wrote:
I agree about the WebArt concept......
Now I started painting (I mean just painting on the screen)
for about ten years ago and I called my paintings (digital and
prints) Pixel Paintings, that is wide spread through Internet nowadays..I
to believe that I invented the nomenclature for this new media,
as compared to Pastel painting, oil painting etc...but who knows! :-)
I wonder if Pixel Paintings
is a category of Digital Art...
or if anyone has a better name than Pixel paintings..that is
basically painting on the scratch, without 3D-s or
photo shop manipulations, etc..
Besides, long time ago I proposed for R2001 to include a section about
tutorials, art resources, etc that would attract many visitors to
the site..I am still waiting for an answer.
I want to tell you now that I am nearly opening a Studio-gallery
in Stockholm where I will work with the computer and sell (!!:-))
, exclusively for Pixel Paintings, digital art etc, where I would
like to spread info and whatever about R2001, if you all agree..
Greetings to all
Thank you for the thought you've put into the manifesto. This will
take some thought - the web as more than medium, htm as more than
mere carrier. It's a bit like thumbtacks assuming their own
importance. We (or rather, I) have to do a rethink here. Is it more
than magnificently useful? This is getting to the real basics here
... who was it who defined "art" as "what artists do"?
Virtual TART, at http://virtual.tart.co.nz
and Puniho Art, at http://puniho.www.co.nz
[r2001 01424] WebArt - Computer Art ? / Reply from ShopArt
Tue, 13 Oct 1998 07:30:31 EDT
Well, I think its the normal - liked or disliked by artists - that the styles
they are working on is separted in categories and subcategories. Something
substantial for all fine arts (except art creations with performance effects
or time limited installations) is, that it should last for 10 - 50 - 100 -
1,000 years and should be admired then still too.
For my opinion the common fine arts categories by "medium computer/screen"
only got one more important variation, of which an under category may be
"WebArt". However, the software to create WebArt partly may be the same for
other Computer Art Categories too (Animations, 3D, Holograms and what ever may
come more). And also: Computerized creations, yesterday sensational and very
complicated, today may be simple poor rubbish, easily done by nearly everyone
after some hours exercise with some new type of software. (Ex and hopp art?)
The Fine Arts primarily result out of combination of handicraft, creativity,
brain and provoked reaction by the viewers. And the computer - whatever new
possibilities he ever may offer - will remain a prothetic remidy, to create
So, lets care that the variety of art shown within R2001 - computerized or not
- should furtheron remain of same value and same chance to be mentioned in
public on web. At the end its our visitors - and live-exhibitors - who will
make the choice and decision, where to go, what to see (... what to buy!?!)
and what to expose - (and making a mix out of all). Igo, ShopArt, LightHome
>So, lets care that the variety of art shown within R2001 - computerized or not
>- should furtheron remain of same value and same chance to be mentioned in
>public on web. At the end its our visitors - and live-exhibitors - who will
>make the choice and decision, where to go, what to see (... what to buy!?!)
>and what to expose - (and making a mix out of all). Igo, ShopArt, LightHome
Igo, and all,
I completely agree with you on the statement that we should embrace all forms of Art and not make distinctions in the "value". And I can assure that the advertising of WebArt is not meant to lead in the reduction of the importance of other forms. Personally, in my excitement to bring out the WebArt concept, I'm at the same time trying to find time for some rest, peace and conventional painting. But at the same time, there should always be room for exploring new fields and bring out new stuff.
From: Bryan A. Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>I do however have a silly question...um, under the definition of WebArt
>what's to preclude someone from simply posting their site pages!?
Bryan, and all,
I, as am sure we all, have a personal web site - the main aim of which is to present the "art work" i've done over the years. And though there are innovative design concepts and lots of head ache in creating web site that looks like I want it to look, it's main reason for existence is rather to act as frames for my works made outside this medium - the actual works still being the main thing, and thus for example my site is no WebArt, but rather art on the web. WebArt piece however, though may well use same coding, is a self-standing piece that is not a frame to display other works of mine, but to be a work in itself. The line between what is webart and what is just a web site sure is not sharp, but I'm sure that by thinking about these concepts we can eventually have sensible ideas of where things are leading.
> Don't get
>me wrong, as on one hand I certainly feel that web sites are indeed
>"WebArt", I mean, I (and others) I know have put a *great* deal of their
>creative juices into the 'look-and-feel' of their sites--in the presentation
>of the content--to a point of creating a individual/unique piece of work.
>All-n-all I applaud R2001's attempts at defining this, and think it's a good
>start...and am even a little excited about it...in that I would like to try
>my hand at it as well...
I've been thinking about these issues for months and as time goes by new ideas and prospects emerge and the whole thing is being reshaped and formulated all the time. I'm sure, we all should spent some time in thinking the matter, and especially the way ahead.
>>From: Bryan A. Smith <email@example.com>
>>>I do however have a silly question...um, under the definition of WebArt
>>>what's to preclude someone from simply posting their site pages!?
>Not a silly question, IMHO. If, within "certain" limitations, a site is
>designed to be no more (nor less) than a dynamic work of art, and it comes
>off as such, what category could better suit it than WebArt?
Warren is completely right. He might just have been using the R2001
Database at http://r2001.com/database/ledge.htm where I have been
pointing out for the last 9 months that "There are many websites that
show art, but there are comparatively few where the website itself is
the work of art. These links will take you to the latter category..."
etc. I Recommend that members who are interested in these issues should
follow the links in The Leading Edge. The JODI site is probably the
best-known example of 'the website as Art'.
So the answer to Bryan's original, and well put, question, is this:
'nothing at all, except if the website isn't a work of art in itself...'
In effect, we have to consider that fine balance between the artist's
intention and achievement - and what Aleksi and I have been doing is
merely trying to set some guidelines for that consideration in relation
to a newly emergent field of artistic activity. And, I must emphasise,
we are doing this to try to enhance R2001's reputation as leaders in
There is another side to this discussion: if Bryan's question makes us
look at our own websites in a more critical light as artists, then
perhaps there will be lots of other benefits from this exercise. I am
currently rebuilding Kurai Hoshi with this in mind, and we are also
trying out some ideas to upgrade the World LightHome very soon......
In message <3622EF8C.DB31DB75@tart.co.nz>, Dale Copeland
>Thank you for the thought you've put into the manifesto. This will
>take some thought - the web as more than medium, htm as more than
>mere carrier. It's a bit like thumbtacks assuming their own
>importance. We (or rather, I) have to do a rethink here. Is it more
>than magnificently useful? This is getting to the real basics here
>... who was it who defined "art" as "what artists do"?
..probably somebody who was teasing whoever it was defined artists as
"the people who do art"....
I know what Dale means, it is an instinctive reaction when something we
thought was just a vehicle turns out to have a life and purpose all of
its own. Think about this:
in the earliest days of cinema, they staged plays and simply pointed the
camera at the play. The content of 'Cinema' was 'Drama'. Then people
started to realise that the camera could be moved, the film could be
edited - a whole new set of possibilities opened up. As dramatic artists
played with the new tools, they became cinematic artists and a whole new
artform was born out of the marriage between an old artform and a new
technology. In Dale's words, the thumbtack assumed its own importance.
WebArt is a marriage between, on the one hand, new technologies in
computing and telecoms, and on the other hand, just about every other
artform that has previously existed.
For somebody like Dale (working in collage/montage) the new technology
makes it possible, for example, to combine materials (at a virtual
level) that might otherwise be incompatible at a physical level; and
also to communicate the results in a permanent form (digital images do
not rust or decay or oxidise).
It is also interesting to note that, within the drama/cinema analogy,
the new artform continues to be dependent on the old, rather than
replacing it. Actors still learn their trade on the stage in front of
live audiences, directors and scriptwriter/playwrights still span the
two artforms. There is a lesson to be learned here. Ultimately, a
digital artist still has to be able to draw. Advanced new techniques
tend to throw a new light on the need for traditional skills, rather
than replacing them.
Personally, I like to use Photoshop as a sketchbook now - because it
helps me to make better oil and acrylic paintings. I hope that R2001
will actually increase its members' respect for, understanding of,
access to, appreciation of and achievement in the broadest possible
range of media and artforms.
>It kinda goes to where I left the discussion and/or comments relative to the
>site I referred you to (Gerald) and the experience I had there with many of
>the exhibits--as I felt that while most of "it" was *not* what I was
>doing...it was 'digital'...and it was 'art'...and is more towards our
>definition of "WebArt"...and not digital art...confusing, huh?
...the thing is Bryan, different artists have different ideas and will
take radically different approaches - I think it is healthy to be aware
of these variations and to get exposure to them... and we are in a
period of incredible change - and that means confusion !
After re-reading my comment, and then reading your latest comment, I feel impressed to ramble a bit more on these subjects.
First of all, and in response to your first post I should have chosen words which were a little 'softer'...sorry...I have a tendency to either trivialize or respond flippantly and/or casually when I'm trying to answering to many posts in one setting...so, I thought I'd better take another stab at it.
What I was trying to delineate was that I felt that what you were possibly confusing what you were doing with what was being presented in the WebArt Manifesto, as I (rightly or wrongly) saw WebArt and what you described as Pixel Art as two different expressions of art.
However, upon reading your second response, I am now even more confused about your perceptions than ever. Now, I admit that this may be due in part to my total lack of understanding and/or knowledge of your process, but when you use words, like, "...cutting, pasting, filtering, 3D rendering, etc...", and say, which is "...typical to Digital Art." And yet previously you state, "...Pixel Painting is a mere media, like oil and pastel, more related to traditional painting than to Digital Art..." Dude, how is what you're describing *not* Digital Art!?!?
I belabor this point as I know there's a lot of artists on this list who use 'traditional media', and fear that such explanations/observations/perceptions if gone unchallenged may even cause further confusion.
And, am looking for help here from you or any other member of the list...
I am also glad that Aleksi was able to field my 'silly question' as again...as silly as it may have seemed, it was equally serious...as again, I have found through my countless communications with others how things so apparently clear can be so easily misunderstood.
I also enjoyed Igo's and Aleksi's comments on value, etc., as this topic is most important to me as a digital artist, as I am well aware of the fact of the lack of value which is often placed on digital art. And, in an article in a new Bryce newsletter which is going to be out soon, I comment at length on the problems and issues associated with the valuation of digital art. Further, this is one of the main reasons I have chosen to associate myself with R2001...in hopes of changing those perceptions normally associated with digital art...if not by any other means than it being associated with other 'traditional media'. It is my hope that someday those that (e)valute WebArt, Pixel Painting, Digital Art, or any other form of 'art' may come to eventually understand what they *should* or *must* be evaluating is....CREATIVITY!!!!! And, would love to see this element introduced formally into the valuation system...and think it is, but for reasons that I understand but do *not* accept, often the moment the word 'digital' is spoken, you then hear/see, "Oh, I see.", and the 'creativity/value light' dims and goes out.
What I've tried to do with my work at my site is to explore and create other venues and/or uses for it, besides using the site as simply a place to hang my stuff. And think that in many ways I have been somewhat successful in accomplishing that--and have other ideas that I am in the process of developing. Please note that even my participation in the physical gallery showings at Harrogate and NYC was also an attempt to develop new venues and/or uses for my work, and I received many posts from other digital artists who applauded me for making this step...not so much for myself...but for THEM!!!! In that it demonstrated to them and others that digital art *did* have worth or value to be hung along with other forms of art. Yes, I must acknowledge Gerald's foresightness and courage to invite me to join R2001, and I'm sure he remembered my reservations about whether my work belonged, and will always be greatful for his support in helping me make this decision.
Aside from my whinning, ranting and raving, the point that I'd like to make is that I certainly feel that what has been proposed relative to the subject of WebArt has and is going a long ways in developing and fostering the needed changes in the perceptions of those that do value this and other related digital art forms...and am appreciative of it...and at the same time also acknowledge and understand Igo's comments about how segregating WebArt from the other forms of art included in the R2001 portfolio may cause others to view it differently and/or of having less value. The only positive recommendation that I can make is that the manifesto stay as a means/method to establish a definition for this particular type/kind of expression, and that we do *not* segregate it from the rest of the portfolio of art as presently embraced by R2001!?
Aside from this, I personally won't become too upset until R2001 decides that whatever you wish to call what I do needs a separate category as well!? However I must admit I am concerned that outside pressure from those 'serious art figures' Gerald mentioned, and even those amongst ourselves (referring to Sebastian's comments relative to Pixel Art--not picking on you Sebastian, just using you as an example) will require R2001 to define art by *THEIR* definitions in order to remain credible, and require further such segregations, which I interpret as nothing less than another form of censorship.
Re: Webart, Pixel Paintings & Digital Art
I take the point about segregation, but I do not think it is such a >serious problem - after all, we have also 'segregated' the Sketchbook - >the most traditional and universal of the artforms we are involved in... I guess I have to align here with Gerald's comments. I don't feel much problems in categorizing things. Please do keep in mind, R2001 was not born, nor is its purpose today, nor will it be to be a torch carrier of WebArt anymore than any other form of art. It is however something that excites me, and many others at the moment. However, using the term WebArt, and giving it some boost has some advantages for R2001. It certainly is a new field, a new way to create visual, or multimedia art in a complicated enviroment (I hope we can publish a little debate I had with Gerald some time ago soon, there are some more thoughts about this...), and aligning forces behind new development may have shattering consequences in its development. And, secondly, it may act as a good advertising gig for R2001. We can always try to present art, of whatever form, and try to survive based on its quality, but R2001 cannot stand as a leader of oil painting, as an example, but it can, with hard work and! determination stand as a leader of WebArt. So those three reasons are the main reasons why I support WebArt's segregation from other forms: 1) Development of this new form of art strenghtens and it gets recognition 2) It is maybe the only field where R2001 can claim to to be the world-leader. 3) WebArt is so young and developing with huge leaps, thus offering incredible possibilities for developing something great. We should never walk away from something that today looks blurry, difficult, hard to comprehend - in the leading edge it is always like that. There is nothing bad, or weak in our past, but there is no reason not to walk ahead, and still maintaining the strenghts from the past. ...and we should not look at WebArt too hastily. It is big, damn comlicated thing, and I feel strongly about its future strength and possibilities. I didn't, only a year ago. I wish not however make R2001 heavily supporting some art form over any other. And this discussion, or development, should not make any statements on the 'value' of any art form. >>Aside from this, I personally won't become too upset until R2001 decides >>that whatever you wish to call what I do needs a separate category as >>well!? However I must admit I am concerned that outside pressure from >>those 'serious art figures' Gerald mentioned, and even those amongst >>ourselves (referring to Sebastian's comments relative to Pixel Art--not >>picking on you Sebastian, just using you as an example) will require >>R2001 to define art by *THEIR* definitions in order to remain credible, >>and require further such segregations, which I interpret as nothing less >>than another form of censorship. I think we shouldn't get too 'excited' about categories. I don't believe this development is leading into any kind of censorship. Why would it lead into that? Some visitor may enjoy of some WebArt piece, some may enjoy of a pixel-painting, and if someone wants to use another name, another term, so be it. We should concentrate in the development of the content, in the actual works, make it show, make it work..... and see where it will go.
Aleksi Aaltonen, Finland
Just had a chance to read all this; very happy to see the discussion and manifesto. i think gerald's cinema/drama analogy is right on. the value of webart to me is its inherent awareness of itself as a delivery/communications tool AND as a creative medium. i can see the development of this group as evidence of the power of that form-content synthesis. r2001 began as a group of traditional artists using the web as a delivery/communication tool; as we learn more about the possibilities of different delivery methods via the web, their aesthetic application becomes art. it's just another frame thhrough which to view the world, a step back or zooming out in which, like the magritte pipe paintings, we find meaning not only in the content, but in the motion between perspectives, between frames of reference....the reason webart is important to r2001 is that it reflects the nature of r2001: neither could exist without the internet. the question i want to address is, how do we reflect all this in the r2001 website? i think the design itself shoulld express this meta-awareness; in my CWB piece, for example, i used screenshots of pages in the webring within the larger context of virtual environments. i think we should find a way to reflect the creative, provocative, communicative spirit of r2001 in the design of the site, perhaps by directly engaging users...any thoughts?
15 Oct 1998 20:33:19 -0500 From: Sharif Ezzat
Dear members of r2001,
My present thoughts on "WebArt"-
For a moment I try to think of myself as not an artist but as audience.
Just one person who could be sitting anywhere in the world in front of
his/her computer's monitor.
I feel so powerful, so privileged. With a few decisive clicks, I could
be downloading wonderous imagery, tapping into the limitless source of
human creativity - but confined to my personal interest, that of the
visual arts. It's like being in Candyland and it's all free! There
suddenly is literally a world of new visual enrichment at my fingertips.
At this point in high tech time, for the most part, pictures are
centered and smaller than the screen to accomodate slow downloading
time. I have been conditioned to be satisfied by thumbnails. For the
invested amount of online time I can see MORE art (thumbnails) by not
selecting to wait to view more detail ("enlargements"; i.e., larger
graphic files)concealed in thumbnails. The more I see, the more I want!
Within my peripheral vision is the monitor box, usually a neutral hue.
There the box frames the image, WHETHER of "digital" or "traditional
media" origin, with the unused circumferential background screen
relegated as MAT.
As technology improves images will be full screen. Besides this
creative approaches by artists and programmers will integrate imagery
with a plethora of html driven applications to enhance and diversify
multimedia presentation via this monitor and the Internet.
As audience I would then be dazzled by NEW DIRECT aesthetic experience.
My mind set is preset to experience "art" as never before. All this
evolves through ongoing development of technology, experimental
application by artists and the feedback mechanisms of a captured online
global audience with ever increasing aesthetic awareness.
Traditional frames of reference for presenting, categorizing and viewing
art are forever shattered. Welcome, new millenium!
Call me old-fashion but within/upon this new cyber-stage the nuts and
bolts of merely making the best pictures is still the most important
task within this sprinting megatrend of hypertexted Web based art. A
single picture will always say more than a thousand megabytes of text
(or the latest cyber-hype).
There will never be a substitute for the basics of any "art" - inner
vision and manifested human spirituality of the artist.
Readiness of an enlightened audience, groomed in cyberculture, insures
the "art" is communicated as intended by the artist.
Pygoya, cyberartist-in-residence @