Communications, essential human ability, serves as the concrete holding societies together. Throughout the history of mankind a variety of communications types has emerged. Some of those channels of communication, like television or even writing, have become something that surpassed our understanding of an informational channel, something that has inherent value above mere information transmission. Internet, already worshipped as new mean of communication, overcome this oversimplifying status by begetting a new and unexpected value, Internet Art.
Since the date of its creation in 1980’s, Internet was viewed as simply a new way of transmitting information. The very simplest definition of Internet defines it as a way of sharing available information in electronic format. Perhaps, Internet has modified only design of information in the way meaningful to interactive nature of modern PCs. The majority of sites offer data and information that otherwise can be found in non-electronic format. The sites distributing and educating in art merely reproduce and transform traditional art for the electronic audience.
Perhaps, Internet has modified the way humans communicate, perhaps, the actual design of information, but has it produced any new information that finds its existence only in the same environment, Internet?
Therefore, by definition, Internet Art should be something distinct from all known forms of art, something that could be found only on the net. And Internet artists have discovered and extensively used three distinct features of the new communication channel that have become basics for distinguishing Internet Art as a separate domain of human artistic creativity.
First, a possibility of a combined effort of unique individuals across and despite all national and geographical borders serves as an important characteristic in identifying Internet Art. This very ability has made possible a creation of artistic projects the initiation of which, without Internet, would be too costly, too unrealistic, and, probably, meaningless in effect. Only Internet allowed such crazy ideas as an up-to-day archive of people’s dreams or a contest for the best design of in-flight sickbags to be realized, of course virtually real. Therefore, Internet reserves the right to perceive those offsprings as unique to the web.
Secondly, I believe that no one will deny that links is the unique Internet feature. Internet artists play around with this feature in a variety of ways. Links to pictures or any other artist’s expressions could appear as one pixel size dots running away from a mouse pointer. Moreover, artists enjoy playing with the idea that a user never knows for sure where a link will take him or her . Those games even have caused traditional cartoons to mutate. Internet introduced a new type of cartoons, a mixture of cartoon and game. Those are created with flash technique, and, consequently, receive the name of “flash.” In those game-cartoons, a viewer makes choices for cartoon heroes several times and a script runs according to those choices .
Thirdly, the Internet artist community has produced and crystallized a particular style of design, style that is barely found outside of the web. The desire to achieve 100 per cent stylishness and digital technologies serve as only two guides and requirements for Internet Art. All work is being done digitally, and although it can assume traditional forms, its origins stay electronic. Internet Art style, of course, serves aesthetic taste of the era that has produced it and assumes forms meaningful only for the same era, menus, wallpapers, e-cards, interfaces.
The above mentioned features serve only as useful identity marks of a new Internet phenomenon, but what really makes it art is its meaninglessness. Although art, in general, lacks clear definition and criteria for its identification, all arts share the same feature of impracticality, meaninglessness in applying to everyday problems. And all described sites can give you practical gain equal to zero. Only their aesthetic appeal makes creation of those sites and projects meaningful. The fact that nobody charges money for surfing those sites serves as good proof of their impracticality and the unawareness of them.
The word conjunction “Internet Art” serves only as a tentative and very general name for the recently identified trend in human creativity. At the current stage of development, Internet Art lacks theoretical definitions and, therefore, defines itself through available works found on the web. Due to the same reason, along with Internet artists’ view of themselves as a new, somewhat underground community, traditional search engines are powerless in identifying and locating ‘hidden’ pages. Instead, while searching for yet unevaluated art, start with one seemingly Internet Art site and follow its links to other conceptually similar sites. And surfing, then, becomes a pleasant, meaningful, and revealing activity as the only way to glance at something aesthetically hilarious.