Internet Art in 2016


I've read this post from Jamie Varon far too many times. It's helping my mind articulate it's thoughts but it's also making me think. Before I discovered the article by Varon, I posted this tweet:

I've been reading Internet Art: The Online Clash of Culture and Commerce, written by Julian Stallabrass. The book was researched partly during 1999-2000 and published in 2003, which means in the realms of the internet, and internet art, it's pretty damned out of date. But, it still manages to raise questions around how we view art on the internet and social media, how we consume art, and if the age of the internet is helping or hindering.

internet-art-bloggingThe year is 2016 and I follow many blogs written by those in the creative fields, I also consume others' art through instagram, facebook (occasionally, I hate facebook) and twitter. There are many more social media sites where those in creative fields share their work and the work of others. Voices in contemporary art have moved away from their columns in the Sunday supplement and now release content daily. Those of us interested in creativity have a wealth of information available if we know the right words to google search.

At University I was encouraged to have a web presence; and if I remember rightly, it was part of my professional practice module to have either a blog, website, tumblr, or to be part of one of the many art networks such as Axis. There was encouragement to not just have a pretty damned awesome portfolio in the flesh, but one that highlighted our talents online, too. As a Fine/Contemporary Artist, a blog fitted my speciality, because I could discuss the intricacies and thought processes behind my art to Joe Blogs, as my practice was concerned with Kant-ism philosophy and the existence of other minds, it made sense.

Many of the blogs I discover and read are written by Graphic Designers, and there are so many of you out there. It's easy to believe that every creative blogger out there is also a designer. It makes sense for a graphic designer to have a website and blog, especially if their career prospects are hinged on freelance projects, it's good publicity. It makes sense for illustrators, too. With more and more of our lives being based on the internet, it becomes an excellent platform for sharing our works with new audiences and building networks and connections.

The dark side is that in displaying so much of our works we leave ourselves open to criticism, copying, and mockery. Which are just three of many other negatives. Of the three, I do believe that copying of others is not as common as we fear (but that's thoughts for another time, if I dare). Criticism and mockery can be common, although from my research (hours and hours of time on the internet), mockery is kept to smaller groups that don't shout too loud, and criticism is even more hidden. (Think a snapchat with snarky commentary). Yet constructive criticism is integral to an artists growth, and it's a shame that in such a large community there is yet to be a space for (free) constructive, helpful and personal tips. In Art School, crits are common place, and loved or loathed, teach us a lot about our work and where it is placed in our professions.

Art on the internet becomes of sharing process, and final works that have been posed beautifully that it looks natural, so the viewer can picture the art in their home. Those sharing their creativity question why one piece gets more likes and shares, we analyse the best time of day to post so the most people see it. We encourage our words and pictures to be shared and ultimately bought, our services paid for. At times it seems that social media is not just one big art gallery of work to be appreciated, but one big art market to be consumed.

Just incase you were unsure, I hate the art market (and here comes the embedded tweet to prove that).

For those of us that share our work we also investigate what our peers are doing, and how they're doing. We've become more aware of what happens in creativity circles and the trends that are taking off, we're able to visit exhibitions and conferences without actually leaving the comfort of our bedrooms. I would like to believe that in the age of internet art, we are far more culturally aware, and if we want to make a living from art, we need to be.

For those of us described as junior designers, emerging artists, early career illustrators, many of us were born in the late 80's, the early 90's and we had to adapt to a changing landscape of the internet, and social media. For those of us that graduated in 2011 and prior, an internet presence was enough, where now every social media avenue should be utilised. An account name that becomes a brand, as recognisable as Botticelli, Rembrandt, Et al.

Internet art becomes a dodecahedron (spelt right the first time!), with millions of ways of looking at it. My blog becomes an extension of my art practice, my instagram a way of displaying the more aesthetically pleasing of my experimentations, and a crude portfolio.

A photo posted by Erin (@comadiary) on

My feed on instagram becomes my own personal art gallery, in which I curate and juxtapose my favourite creators. My sharing of my own works and words as much art as the final pieces. I think of a million ways to utilise the internet, in curating exhibitions based entirely on pinterest boards, tumblr blogs. Investigating whole different personas and documenting our lives and thoughts. Many of my previous pieces would work well translated onto the internet (FYI still thinking of publishing that).

My end point is pretty much the same as that of Jamie Varon. That maybe there aren't people sharing, or that I missing some really great people that are sharing. That sharing becomes all too linked to consuming and buying. That online takes over from real life. There's an exhibition coming up at Whitechapel Gallery: Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966) that examines how Internet Art has moved and changed and how the internet has influenced art, and it's something I really want to see.