Episode 262 – New Markets for Artists / Do You Have an Opinion?

 

Do You Have an Opinion?

Do you have a message you want to relay to the world? The Internet reaches a vast, and in many ways, gullible audience. Be careful how you proceed if you decide to try something similar to what the Yes Men did, for even they are susceptible to legal repercussions. A tamer version of what they do would be to create a collaborative, interactive space where people can make art together, or make a website that does not show your art, but creates a guessing game of some kind.

Hell.com and Internet Art

One of the most fascinating and enigmatic pieces of online or “net-art” is a website called hell.com, a coveted domain that gets thousands of hits every day from people

who type hell.com in their browser for the sake of entertainment. It remains a curious place for art and utilizes some of the most sophisticated uses of web design. For a while, it was very difficult to navigate, and there were obstacles like hidden passcodes which, if you did incorrectly, would reroute you to a ran- dom Internet search. It was frustrating, but sometimes beautiful. Every time I checked the site, there were always different things happening.

Nosuch.com

Once, when I went to the site, it automatically sent me to another domain called nosuch.com. The hell.com designers always seemed to have a sense of humor even if it was hard to follow. They defy our expectations of what it means to navigate the web by making their site function the opposite of what we expect. While writing this book, I went to hell.com and found a completely blank page. At first I thought something was wrong with my browser, but I could see that the site had fully loaded and there had been no error. Then I noticed a message at the top of the browser, which said “domain disabled”—a message I have never seen before. Hell.com has a reputation for using the Internet in unique ways that tend to confound their viewers, and one of the definitions of art is to challenge the norm and make us think. Hell.com has certainly done this. You can read more about this notorious and odd work of Internet art on Wikipedia. Perhaps it will inspire you. You can also listen to the full interview I did of the founder of hell.com on Yale Radio, (wybc.com) under The Art World Demystified public affairs program.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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Episode 261 – New Markets for Artists / Internet Art and the Web

Internet Art and the Web

Online projects ideas are another form of public art. Even museums are starting to collect Internet art. While broad in category, anything that the public can view can be considered public art, even your personal website, though in my view, in order for an Internet project to be art, there needs to be something more to it. The first examples I saw of Internet art in the late 1990s were almost like games, where the cursor would roll over hidden links to other areas or reveal words that were hard to make sense of. The objective of this kind of art was to find out what the Internet mechanics really were and to try and use them to create an interactive, aesthetic experience. Since then, it has vastly evolved and artists are using the Internet to create a variety of new projects.

Taking On Corporate Culture

One fairly radical project was done by a group of artists called the Yes Men. Their artistic goal is to make fun of corporate culture, and in this particular instance, they did so by posing as corporate CEOs. They made websites that duplicated an actual company’s website (and had similar domain names), Exxon, for example, complete with links to parts of the real Exxon website. But the big difference was that they included what looked like email links to the CEOs on their home page, but the links were actually attached to the artists’ personal accounts. Then, they waited for email requests for the CEOs to give presentations at a conference.

Performing

The Yes Men would accept the invitations, and give presentations to very prestigious groups of people because they thought they were hiring major CEOs. The Yes Men tend to be critical of corporate culture. At one event, they presented a gold skeleton and discussed the value of a human life. They said that some skeletons—that is, some lives—are worth more than others and can be calculated precisely when making corporate decisions. They mentioned the Bhopal disaster in India that killed thousands of innocent people and explained how those lives were not as valuable as lives in other parts of the world.

Documents and Reaction

The Yes Men videotaped all of their presentations. The remarkable thing when watching the footage is that often times the audience liked what they heard and agreed with what the Yes Men said. The film they made about their work is a horrifying indictment of corporate culture, and it is available to rent online if you are interested in seeing it. The Yes Men are a great example of how to effectively use the Internet for artistic purposes—in their case, to create art that criticizes corporate culture. In my opinion, their approach of starting something that begins as a hoax and ends in critique is a fairly sophisticated use of the Internet, but there are many other ways to utilize it.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.

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