Great works of the Web-ern Canon
November 2, 2014 11:43 AM   Subscribe

A lot of ink has been spilled on the subject of whether video games are art, but rorgy's recent megapost on Homestuck reminded me that comparatively little has been written on the idea of Internet Art. Such works that leverage the internet as a unique creative medium fascinate me, and I'd love to find more. What are some other works that qualify?

I'm not interested in functionally traditional art that happens to be distributed over the internet -- I love Hyperbole and a Half, Epic Rap Battles of History, and TIME FOR SOME STORIES, for instance, but they'd work just as well as a graphic novel, sketch comedy show, and book. I'm also not looking for works of scholarship (like Wikipedia or the Internet Archive), distributed platforms (like deviantART or Tumblr), or dime-a-dozen "digital art" that's little more than a software toy.

I want projects that make full use of the internet as a medium -- singular, creative, preferably auteur-driven works that are only possible on the web because they take advantage of its unique social, interactive, and multimedia properties.

Some good examples:

- Homestuck, obvs.
- Kutiman's ThruYOU project, which remixes dozens of amateur YouTube videos into compelling musical works.
- Twitch Plays Pokemon, where a web chat room hooked up to a Pokemon game spawned all kinds of crazy mythologies and an emergent debate between democracy and anarchy.
- AlphaWorld, a single sprawling virtual landscape built by thousands of users over nearly two decades -- like a virtual Burning Man playa
- ARGs like ilovebees and Year Zero, which tell complex interactive multimedia stories
- Your World of Text, a huge digital graffiti wall freely editable by the world, full of poetry and ASCII art

What are some other great works of Internet Art that use the web to make substantive creative statements like this?
posted by Rhaomi to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There have been Whitney and MOMA shows about internet art over the last decade, and they frequently included famous internet memes.

When I think of the phrase "Great Works of Internet Art" the first site that comes to mind is Superbad.
posted by mathowie at 11:47 AM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles immediately comes to mind (previously on the blue). Yes it looks like it's about football. No, it's not about football.
posted by Itaxpica at 12:31 PM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: is dedicated to cataloging, documenting, and commenting on net art, and recently announced the first recipients of the Prix Net Art:, who've been producing fantastic and baffling web art pretty much since it was possible to produce web art. The shortlist for the prize is a pretty good survey.
posted by multics at 1:39 PM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Missed the edit window to fix my link to, so I'll use this opportunity to call out two other good examples of important net art: the Horse ebooks twitter, and Kenneth Goldsmith's effort to print out the Internet. Goldsmith's also behind the UbuWeb archive which, while not explicitly net art itself, is the kind of resource it's hard to imagine without the web and whose approach to copyright could be argued to turn the archive into a work of art in its own right.
posted by multics at 2:05 PM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Actually I just FPP'd one I'd offer, Baman and Piderman, which has actually been around for a few years now.
posted by JHarris at 3:17 PM on November 2, 2014

(Well, it is all videos. Hmm, may not be what you're looking for really, although I find it difficult to imagine it becoming popular anywhere except the internet.)
posted by JHarris at 3:18 PM on November 2, 2014

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