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Themesicon: navigation pathPublic Sphere_sicon: navigation pathMedia Spaces
Constructing Media Spaces
The novelty of net(worked) art was and is all about access and engagement
Josephine Bosma


Some thoughts on art

When writing new media art histories one somehow always seems to get stuck in the same dilemma. Should one follow the common approach, in which technical innovations of the visual image are the dominant factor, or does one ‹look at› this art as a complex of cultural expressions that can take on various shapes? This dilemma seems to hinge on the definition of art and the cultural (and political) context, which accompanies every definition of art. There are a few strategies to avoid this dilemma. A popular one is to avoid calling some of the work and projects of artists ‹art› altogether. This creates a big void in criticism and leaves a lot of practices unrecognized. My favorite strategy opposes this: when in doubt, call it art and leave any further problems of signification to critics and theorists. Whether something is art or not has not been the most important issue for a long time: how to place and value art practices and products. Yet there has been a third popular strategy. The elusiveness and instability of art in and around electronic media have created an obscurity in which the safest, easiest and definitely most popular option has been (and probably


will be for years to come) a return to looking at art from the pre-modern perspective of craftsmanship (often mixed with a hint of creative genius of an author). This in turn gets entangled with the simple assumption of artistic progress being embedded within the technical innovation of the visual media image. The problem with this strategy is that it neglects decades of interdisciplinary art practices that have been most important to the development of the new art practices we are dealing with today; art practices that are too diverse to fit into one or two categories of design and visual art and their accompanying discourses.

This essay attempts to look at art created on and around the Internet from a relatively new perspective—that of art in the public domain. It is only relatively new because the public domain has been a theme or focus within Internet art and its crossover into media activism for a long time now. The definition of the public domain has been expanded through the use of electronic media spaces, starting with radio and television, but most significantly with the rise of the Internet and its relatively easy access for the public. The emphasis on communication and freedom of

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