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january 30, 2001 :: 
a review of an exceptional project

by Jonathan Lipkin from asci



web art + activities

The following collection of websites have been filtered by ASCI's editor, *Jonathan Lipkin*, plus a Review of an exceptional project.

Museums are trying to figure out what to do about 'net art. Last year, the *Whitney Biennial* had an Internet Art section, and this year San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art is hosting 010101: Art in Technological Times.

As reviewed in this space earlier, the Biennial consisted merely of a paragraph of text, with a link to each of the featured artists. The Whitney was confronted with what may be the single most confounding question to confront museums: what is their role in the digital age?

More traditional art is, of course, conceptually much easier to deal with. Paintings and sculptures are singular objects which have a tangible physical existence. An artist creates them, and they are then given value (both artistically and commercially, witness the Brooklyn Museum's elevation of the Saatchi collection in the Sensations exhibit) by their inclusion in the museum. It thus serves many functions: collection, preservation, exhibit and filtering.

All of these functions are changed by technology, especially digital technology, and museums have always taken time to adjust when a new technology is introduced. It was more than a hundred years since the advent of photography that it was taken seriously by the museums, though it seems that they are trying to adjust to digital technology much more quickly.

Collection and preservation of work which is highly technology-dependant may be one function: preserving a work of art which must be interpreted by a computer requires the preservation of that computer.

But exhibition is tricky over the Internet: does a link to a site mean that you are showing it? You can only see Velazquez¹s Las Meninas in one place. Museums can choose what to show from their permanent collection, limited by the space of their galleries, or to lend out works to other institutions, in which case they are unavailable at their own. This is hardly the case with most work on the Internet: a link to Superbad from the Whitney makes it no less accessable from anywhere else, unless of course the artist create something which can only be accessed from one particular museum.

This leaves the final function of the museum: filtering. Viewers may choose to visit a museum's site in order to see their picks for best art of the Web, relying on their curatorial judgement. Of course, the resources to do this are much less expensive than those of creating a museum: many elementary school children have web pages capable of linking to art sites just as well as the Whitney does. Perhaps this explains the whiz-bang opening screen of SFMOMA's new show: certainly no child could do that!

Following this opening, which takes too long to load, users (visitors?) are presented with a series of words: anonymity, technology, detritus, nomadism, identity, sprawl and reality. Clicking on any of these present a quote to which readers can respond , just like on the *Britney Spears site* hich also starts with a flashy opening, though presumably the dialog on the SFMOMA site will be more erudite.

SFMOMA has also comissioned five artists to create works for the exhibition, with links to current and past works. The site uses a strange interface which at times is beautiful, yet at times becomes frustrating. Read an interesting letter regarding the upcoming .museum top-level domain by John Ippolito, new media curator and artist, at *dotmuseum*


reposted with permission from *ASCI BULLETIN - January issue*


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"Founded in 1988, Art & Science Collaborations, Inc. (ASCI) is one of the few art & technology *members* organizations in the USA. Established primarily as a network for artists who either use or are inspired by science and technology, ASCI has become a magnet for some of the best examples of this type of contemporary art and for technologists wishing to collaborate. ASCI programs and services provide members with opportunities for proffessional growth, increased public visibility, and a supportive community. Since 1998, with its first ArtSci international symposium, ASCI has reached-out to the broad scientific community (from astro-physics to bio-chemistry) to involve its members in this and other ASCI events and programs.

"ASCI publishes a monthly email BULLETIN that offers the most comprehensive art-sci information and resources listings in the world. Compiled from a broad range of media, art, humanities, and science fields, this is a must for those who are short on time but need to keep-up with news, resources, Calls for Work, up-dates on members' activities, and job announcements, plus a review and filtered section."

Founder/Director of ASCI is Cynthia Pannucci.


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*01.01.01: art in technological times*

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