BBC BLOGS - Gomp/arts
« Previous | Main | Next »

40 wild birds play a Gibson Les Paul guitar

Post categories:

Will Gompertz | 14:32 UK time, Tuesday, 2 February 2010

This caught my eye. It's funny and oddly compelling.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

The film is of an installation by a contemporary French artist called Celeste Boursier-Mougenot. It's very Marcel Duchamp, the French artist who started the conceptual art ball rolling nearly a hundred years ago.

John Cleese and Michael Palin in the sketch 'French Lecture on Sheep Aircraft' taken from Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1, Episode 2 - Sex and Violence (recorded 30 August 1969; aired 12 October 1969)Duchamp pioneered combining everyday materials, philosophical comment and humour, an idea that seeped into places like the 1960s pop group the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (they wanted to call themselves the Bonzo Dog Dada band, but worried people wouldn't get it) and Monty Python.

But Duchamp's more radical idea was to introduce chance into the creation of art. In 1913-14 he made 3 Standard Stoppages, a work of art that was the result of the random actions of mechanised contraptions. At the time, he was largely dismissed as a crazy Frenchman, but he inspired an entire avant-garde movement in art as well as the music of John Cage and the choreography of Merce Cunningham. Duchamp was not short of self-confidence, but the idea of adding chance to the creative process was rather humble.

"That's so random" is a common refrain nowadays, referring to a supposedly non-logical thought or event. It was also the clarion cry of the Dadaists, the anti-art, anti-rational early-20th-Century art movement that argued that it was rational thought that led to World War I.

Duchamp was much loved by the Dada movement. I wonder what Dadaists would have made of the internet. It's interesting that, as far as I am aware, no contemporary artist has yet harnessed this extraordinary technology to make a significant artwork. Of course, maybe I'm wrong and am missing something great - do you know of any net-based art works that are worth a look?

Maybe you have made one (an artwork made specifically for the medium, as opposed to a film such as the one above, which uses the net only as a means of dissemination)?

If you, like me, can't find any net-based art of note, why do you think that is? Why, when there's been such a boom in contemporary art around the world, has no artist made the medium of the web his or her canvas? And if someone were to use the net as a medium, as opposed to making an image, or a video, or even an interactive Flash animation, what would the resulting art look, or sound, or feel like?

Duchamp and the Dadaists would have had hours of artistic amusement creating spoof websites, unintelligible Wiki entries and general questioning of the status quo.

Keith Richards, birds and Eric Clapton

Perhaps that is what Celeste Boursier-Mougenot should do next after the installation of his 40 Finches work opens at London's Barbican art gallery on 27 February. Like Duchamp, he seems to understand the creative potential of random acts and non-directed participation. He's already proved in this artwork that while Keith Richards and Eric Clapton might be masters of the Gibson Les Paul, even they cannot play it like 40 wild birds - not a chance.

Update 5 Feb: On Tuesday I asked: if, like me, you can't find any net-based art of note, why do you think that is? It was a question that had the effect of chucking a large stick into a hornet's nest, and some of those commenting here and around the web are aghast that I should even pose such question.

Many comments have included links to a wide range of internet-based art. Some of the work I knew well; others I didn't and enjoyed seeing. Thanks to all those who provided links. Thanks also to Roberta who made an interesting comment regarding the post generating a useful archive of some net-based art. It's a good point; please continue to add links.

But my question was of eminence not of existence. As the Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller said recently to Charlotte Higgins of the Guardian, "I'm still waiting for someone to use the internet, really use the internet. We're still in a post-Warhol era. We haven't got beyond it."

Of course there is plenty of net-art about and has been for some time, and for the net-art cognoscenti there are stand-out works and practitioners. But for some, which includes many museum curators as well as Jeremy Deller, there hasn't been that moment of epiphany, where they feel they have seen a great work of art created using the medium.

That doesn't make them wrong or ignorant; it's just the subjective nature of the arts. And I don't think they're alone. Why, when the internet has become such a central part of people's everyday lives and at a time when there is enormous interest in contemporary art, is there not one net-based artist or artwork that, say, the layman would recognise by name or output?

To ask that question is in no sense to belittle the often intelligent, thoughtful and fascinating nature of net-based art, and it is not about being unaware of the presence of that art - it is to generate a debate: why, to many in the art world and the public in general, is it "not of note"?

Maybe it's just a issue of timing. It took a while for video-based art to gain real traction. Curators have told me that it was not until the likes of Bruce Nauman in the 1970s that artists using video started to become relatively well-known. Perhaps, just by having this debate, knowledge of net-art will increase in the public consciousness. It certainly has in mine.


  • Comment number 1.

    OMG i loved this! so wacky but so good at the same time. also dig that one bird with the twig, like it is trying to do a slide thing on the strings. i know just doing the whole nest making thing but one can imagine!

  • Comment number 2.

    This is so cute! Wish my Zebra Finches would do that.

  • Comment number 3.

    sounds like a John Zorn album I have...

  • Comment number 4.

    "wild birds"? They look captive, to me.

  • Comment number 5.

    I can't believe that you cannot find any net based artworks. Check out Stelarc's Ping Body - you can't get more integrated with the internet than that. Or for "hours of artistic amusement creating spoof websites" check the work of the Yes Men - who manage to highlight the preposterous nature of the corporatocracy we call society by lampooning and impersonating the WTO, George Bush and Dow Chemicals among others. Also check out other pioneers - Eduardo Kac, Ken Goldberg and Steve Mann all of whom use internet technologies to create art. There's this site you should check out, it's called Google - they have links to loads of interesting stuff too. :p

  • Comment number 6.

    This reminds me of Alan Lamb's Wire Music. Lamb uses telegraph poles and wires to construct giant Aeolian Harps in the Australian outback, the sound of which he picks up with gramophone styluses.

    As well as the resonances of the wind, he picks up the sound of birds not only hopping along the wire, but also singing from it. When a bird sings, the whole bird vibrates with the sound, and those vibrations are transmitted down the wire, and picked up by his apparatus.

    I first heard it on Late Junction only a year or so ago, but was hooked.

  • Comment number 7.

    IF you liked this check out Vancouver artist, Ron Tran's 2004 piece "The Peckers"

  • Comment number 8.

    Cute birds, but being a Frenchman, I expect he ate them afterwards...

  • Comment number 9.

    I suggest that the author finds his way to Uncyclopedia ( to get some idea of what the Dadaists might do on the internet. Warning - some is NSFW, but overall it's a good place. The articles on morse and braille are worth a visit...

  • Comment number 10.

    I can't helpt noticing that in the last three pictures, the "Masters of the Les Paul" are both playing guitars by Gibson's great rival Fender...
    In other news, Brian Eno's next album will feature contributions from fifteen sparrows, nine frogs, and a bull elk in heat.

  • Comment number 11.

    Read some of the reviews of 2% milk on Amazon, they are pure dadaist bliss.

  • Comment number 12.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Why, when there's been such a boom in contemporary art around the world, has no artist made the medium of the web his or her canvas?" - Frankly one of the more bizarre suggestions I've ever read in an arts blog. The web is swarming with net-based art with a quality as variable as other media.

  • Comment number 14.

    I would say that things like Every Day The Same Dream ( are net art although they more often get treated as something else because of the medium.

    Looking through discussion of EDTSD it seems that you can divide the comments into 'people who think it's a form of art' and 'people who want a walkthrough so they can complete it'.

    I would also highly recommend Listening Post ( at the Science Museum which attempts to give a sense of humanity online through fragments from chatrooms, bulletin boards and the like. I remember the profound sense of loneliness which seeped through when I spent time with it.

  • Comment number 15.

    The Yardbirds!!!! I couldn't resist this is quite hard to resist...signed "baby bird!"

  • Comment number 16.

    I find it hard to believe the birds didn't fly away because of sound/vibration. I'm a bit dubious this is real.

  • Comment number 17.

    I thought it was awful.

    Honestly, I was expecting something beautiful from the concept but I guess that's the trouble with realising it. At the end I felt saddened by the exploitation of the birds whose pleasant chirping and innocent communing was sullied by amplified noise and mocked by an crudely artificial setting. If this was the intention of the piece then stuff it! and give me the serendipitous sight of zebra finches on any random day and Keith Richards on Fridays.

  • Comment number 18.

    Will - actually there's rather a lot of web-based work out there.
    By this I mean the kind of stuff that consciously utilises some of the common tropes employed by standard websites to produce , as the Dadaists might, spoofs, satires, irreverent distortions of the medium.
    A well-known example might be - by Damali Ayo, a funny and rather devastating piece of social commentary.
    One of my personal favourites, and to my mind an artwork in its own right, is the oddly brilliant
    And of course there's things like - mentioned above.
    And there's loads more...
    These, I think, constitute new forms of work made possible by this technology/medium, entirley in the spirit of Dadaist subversion.
    One of the great things about the internet is the way it is allowing this kind of surreal, nonsensical, anti-rationalist work to flourish.

  • Comment number 19.

    Will might want to start trying to find evidence of artists' use of the internet as a medium by buying the Thames and Hudson book, usefully entitled, 'Internet Art' by Rachel Greene.

    Or 'Internet Art: The online clash of Culture and Commerce' by Julian Stallabrass published by Tate Publishing -Will has strong links with Tate, right?

    There's a new york based web enterprise called that has an artbase of hundreds and hundreds or artworks made specifically for the internet.

    In London there is an organisation called that also act as a useful access point for artists use of the web as a site and medium.

    Or maybe 'Digital Art' (Thames and Hudson again) by Christiane Paul. Or 'Digital Cultures' by Charlie Gere or Charlie Gere again who wrote, 'Art, Time & Technology'. Or try joining the Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss (CRUMB) discussion group. Or, or, or........

    It's not like they're hiding!


  • Comment number 20.

    You think this work is 'very Marcel Duchamp' and you can't find any net art of note. Try looking.

  • Comment number 21.

    Dear Will,
    Thanks for this post, and for your interest in net art. There is a thriving global net art community always open to anyone with an interest, and keen to link with new audiences. Perhaps it might be possible to find ways to expose some of this activity through the BBC platforms? Here's a brief take on the emergence of net art, which I hope may be of interest.

    In the early to mid 1990s artists began exploring the potential of distributed networks such as the Internet as creative spaces for art making. Frustrated with the organisational structures of established art institutions, a number of artists turned to the Internet to develop alternative models of cultural production, distribution and consumption premised on sharing, collaboration, participation and community. Through these creative explorations with the new information communication technologies, a highly conceptual form of art known as ‘net art’ emerged that brought together earlier art forms, concepts and practices such as sound art, video art, digital art, conceptual art, performance art and mail art in digitised form.

    This work gave particular attention to the materiality of the computer, the Internet and to the Web. Early examples of net art emphasised the transitory and nascent state of the Internet and its technical limitations: artworks were unstable and temporary and could be constantly updated and changed, so that there the work was never quite 'fixed'.

    Contemporary net-based work focuses not only the materiality of the Internet but the distributed form of the network itself, is often located within the 'everyday' as well as online and in galleries, and which combines digital and non-digital aspects.

    A good way to start engaging with net-based work is to join one of the lively online communities - for example:

    Rhizome at The New Museum


    Also of potential interest:
    Martin Wattenberg's IDEA LINE (2001) on The Whitney Museum's Artport site displays a timeline of net artworks

    very best wishes

  • Comment number 22.

    i hope you are joking when you say that you are unaware of, and cannot find, any internet-based art. artists have been using the internet as a tool and artistic medium for more than 2 decades, pretty much since the internet first became accessible through academic and other networks.

    there are so many links i could give you that i don't even know where to start. try furtherfield, try rhizome, try UpStage, try turbulence ... there is so much internet art out there.

    you really cannot call yourself an "arts editor" & claim ignorance of internet art.

  • Comment number 23.

    Oh dear. "If you, like me, can't find any net-based art of note, why do you think that is? Why, when there's been such a boom in contemporary art around the world, has no artist made the medium of the web his or her canvas? And if someone were to use the net as a medium, as opposed to making an image, or a video, or even an interactive Flash animation, what would the resulting art look, or sound, or feel like?"

    Worrying from the Arts Editor of the BBC I'd have thought...pop down the corridor and talk to some of your website people, they probably know a bit more about it....either that or try using wikipedia..

  • Comment number 24.

    Here is a work of net art, Will. I've been working on it for five years. It's called dbCinema. The 'db' is short for 'database'.

    You'll need the free Shockwave plugin from to view dbCinema.

    It can produce infinitely many works of art, but I won't show you them all.

    The first one I'll show you is called London Hypotrochoid. It's at . This piece does a Google image search on "London". It downloads 100 images and proceeds to use them as 'paint'.

    Click the screen when it seems finished to you. It will paint the town in a different way.

    Here is a more erm representational work done with dbCinema. It's called New York. It's at . This does a Google image search on "New York" and uses the words "New" and "York" as 'paint brushes' to paint the town.

    "New York" is a louder, faster, and more representational piece than "London Hypotrochoid".

    Here are some other *types* of dbCinema works. You don't need the Shockwave plugin for these . Kandinsky2, which is at , is unlike the previous two in that what we have here is a slideshow of screenshots made during a dbCinema session I created in which I set the program to do a Google image search on "Kandinsky". is also a dbCinema slideshow, but the query was of "Notre Dame Cathedral".

    Now, if you'd like to set the search term yourself, try . You might want to view the 'Video Introduction' first. And then click 'Interactive online dbCinema'.

    There is more information about dbCinema at , Will.

    Net art is alive and well!

    Jim Andrews

  • Comment number 25.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi William,

    This is such late 50s / early 1960s style national arts journalism and I think you should really query your discursive strategy of requesting an artist known to you (and appreciated), in a national forum, however rhetorically, to move to engage with an entire DIFFERENT area of practice that you have embarrassingly no knowledge of JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE OF IT.

    A simple google of the combination of words "internet art" could have saved you the national embarrassment of this post.

    Does the Arts Editor have an editor? Perhaps he needs one. No actually, more importantly, he needs PAID CONTRIBUTORS invested historically, learn-ed-ly, in the CURRENT avant gard of contemporary practice (yes really there is one); in the idea of critical, contributive art writing proper; in the idea of 'editing'/criticising living culture, media-literate practice, and criticism, rather than nuanced displays of ignorance and art-historical education.

    If only because your own country has so many wonderful "internet" artists.

    Oh dear.....

  • Comment number 27.

    Thank you to fellow respondents for suggesting some of the many places online which our new BBC Arts Editor can turn to to get to grips with the 15+ year history of net-based art practice. I think particularly relevant here is the work of London-based artists Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead ( who have been making work online for over a decade and whose work embodies exactly this use of chance and instruction which is found in the best of conceptual/Dadaist art work.

    At a Tate research conference last year set up to address how 'analogue' museums still are when it comes to the web ( it was a real shame that Mr. Gompertz couldn't come for the panels before the one he spoke on, which included talks from some of the great artists and curators who have been working in this field such as Graham Harwood (commissioned by Tate nearly 10 years ago now for their first net art project, Uncomfortable Proximity:, Gary Stuart, Honor Harger, Roshini Kempadoo and Marc Garrett.

    Nevermind the Tate, now Mr. Gompertz is at the BBC perhaps we should be focusing attention here: the BBC has a history of commissioning net based art also - with Simon Pope's early and important research on Art for Networks once commissioned by and hosted here ( Perhaps as a remedial lesson in net art history, Mr. Gompertz could pull that excellent archive of material, including interviews with artists such as Heath Bunting, back together for us online (404 - I would really welcome that.

    I hope that in this job he has more time to meet with and hear from the excellent practitioners in this field. Mr. Gompertz, please do join us online at the resource for curators of media art (, and I'll be sure that you get copies of our new books out this month, 'Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media' (MIT Press) and two volumes of CRUMB material, 'A Brief History of Curating/Working with New Media Art: Conversations with Curators/Artists' (The Green Box).

  • Comment number 28.

    Great work look foward to seeing it later this month,

    As for"I wonder what Dadaists would have made of the internet. It's interesting that, as far as I am aware, no contemporary artist has yet harnessed this extraordinary technology to make a significant artwork."

    It can be argued that in these post-postmodern times that viral has become the new dada, We are now seeing more than ever that anyone can be creative,

    and if you want to see a realy good peice of art work using the internet check out the work of Jonathan Harries

    Let me know what you think,

    Nicolas William Hughes

  • Comment number 29.

    Perhaps Will is unaware of a major AHRC funded project "Data Art @ BBC Backstage" that is due to be launched this spring - a collaboration between BBC innovation and the Centre for Research in Education Art and Media, University of Westminster.

    Really Will, it's right in your backyard..... ;-)

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Will,

    (Firstly, I wish to mention that I have posted some links below my comments to net-based art, as well as art which is shown in physical space and using the Internet at the same time...)

    Your comment "If you, like me, can't find any net-based art of note, why do you think that is?", has opened up a curious set of questions, relating to an extremely contentious and awkward controversy regarding the emergence of excellent talented individuals and groups who are exploring their creative practice using the Internet and various networks as part of their medium.

    One of the reasons is that, net art (art made specifically for the Internet) and media art, or New media art - a genre that encompasses artworks created with new media technologies, including digital art, computer graphics, computer animation, virtual art, Internet art, interactive art technologies, computer robotics, and art as biotechnology. Is that, even though it has a strong and interesting history - it crosses over into different aspects of life other than only in traditional art practice. It can exist in a gallery context, physically and on the Internet.

    The irony here is that, a younger generation are enjoying it as a contemporary form for expression, but an older more established generation of art-curators and writers, have not only missed out on witnessing this ever-expanding art movement, but when they finally twig that much of this stuff is actually, very important and 'probably' should be included, as part of the contemporary art canon - are, unfortunately still catching up with it all.

    As gallery co-curator, who has been showing much of the artwork and practice in this field, I can happily say that we have gained significant numbers, new audiences to our space, of interested and excited individuals who are very aware of this new contemporary art. Perhaps, the most polite way of putting it all - is that it may be due to a generational shift.

    Another reason, could be due to Internet art and new media art, coming from an alternative place of production. Even though it is art, its history is not from a traditional canon or trajectory. It has its own history, usually independent and not playing by the same rules. For instance, artists who make this type of work, do not necessarily just come from an arts background, many are from engineering, musical backgrounds, scientists, biology and much more - as well as from the more traditional visual area of painting and video making etc. It is naturally not a pure or singular practice, because of its networked nature of connecting to others beyond monocultural or modernist situations.

    As a form of art, it is thriving, but not as we know it Jim!

    And this is good and bad - the good thing is that many of these practitioners are exploring and making some brilliant artworks out there, but not worrying about whether it is accepted by the mainstream. The downside of this is of course, leads to much of it not being officially recognised by those who are used to having artwork shown to them by those who are 'supposed' to now whats going on, who really are not doing their homework, researching what is 'actually' contemporary.

    Some suggestion of contemporary art that uses the Internet as part of its medium:

    I will include links to exhibitions happenng now and artworks that are worth exploring. But, I must add! This field is massive and it is inevitable that it will become part of a wider art context - it is only a matter of time. Wishing you well. Marc Garrett.

    These works are specifically made on, and for the Internet:

    'If not you not me' by Annie Abrahams. Exhibition at our gallery.
    Where social networking sites make us think of communication as clean and transparent, Annie Abrahams creates an Internet of feeling - of agitation, collusion, ardour and apprehension. This exhibition presents three new collaborative works alongside documentation of recent networked performances created and curated by the artist...

    Ten Thousand Cents, a project by artists Aaron Koblin and Takashi Kawashima.
    Ten Thousand Cents" is a digital artwork that creates a representation of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon's Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the reproductions available for purchase (to charity) are all $100. The work is presented as a video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted combination of digital labor markets, "crowdsourcing," "virtual economies," and digital reproduction.

    Link to work -
    If you wish to read a review about it...


    Glyphiti by Andy Deck, is an image composed of many smaller "glyphs" that can be edited easily. The qualities of the image are co-determined. As author, I have established certain characteristics. These include the size and available colors, which are black and white. But the state of every pixel can be changed by the visiting artist.


    The Salt Satyagraha.
    DeLappe's virtual re-creation of Mahatma Ghandi's Salt March to Dandi is part installation part performance art. His historical re-enactment reveals how virtual space is navigated from real space - a re-enactment of Ghandi's protest against British salt tax in 1930, utilizing real space, a blog, and images on Flickr.
    If you wish to read a review about it...


    The Internet Speaks by Richard Wright: contemplating the nature of images on the net and how we read them without recourse to text and context. There are two versions to this project. One is a gallery based piece and the 2nd is for the Internet.
    If you wish to read a review about it...

    List of other artists.

    De Geuzen
    Avatar Body Collision
    thomson & craighead
    Mark Napier
    Maurico Arango
    glorious ninth
    Pall Thayer

    And there is so many more :)


    Furtherfield - online media arts community, platforms for creating,
    viewing, discussing and learning about experimental practices at the
    intersections of art, technology and social change.

    HTTP Gallery - physical media arts Gallery (London).

    Netbehaviour - an open email list community engaged in the process of
    sharing and actively evolving critical approaches, methods and ideas
    focused around contemporary networked media arts practice.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    what hope does the art world have when the BBC's arts editor 'can't find any net-based art of note', I give up !!!

  • Comment number 33.

    As a new media artist and Curator of New Media art I am astounded by this. I recently did a show looking back at the work of Vuk Cosic and Stelarc. How can a curator be unaware of 20 years of work that has shown in galleries, museums and most importantly online and has spawned honestly several genres over this time and still does so? The "Dada" part especially floors me as there are dozens of such works dating back to the early nineties and late eighties.

  • Comment number 34.

    This is a bit like hearing the BBC's financial editor say: 'What with all the clever things you can do with the Internet these days, you'd have thought those city traders would have found some use for it. But, no. I can't find any evidence. Write and tell me if you've noticed anything.'

  • Comment number 35.

    "We are now seeing more than ever that anyone can be creative..."

    Of course, much art of all types encourages or even requires a creative response.

    And while some net art does indeed require a creative response, I think the typical invocation to 'make your own' out of a work of net art is somewhat misunderstood.

    The main difference between a tool such as Word and a programmed piece of net art is that the tool does not supply any of the content. Whereas what we see, normally, in a programmed piece of net art is a presentation of a combinatorium of elements that we can arrange, rearrange, create, destroy, and so on. And we create an instance of the work of art. We can think of the work itself as the entire set of possibilities. To appreciate the work, we consider the nature of this full set. Its qualities, its tone, its purpose, and the nature of the experience the program offers us.

    So, yes, in a sense, net art allows anyone to be creative, but what we typically make from a work of net art is not so much 'our own', in the same sense that it might be said of something we write in Word, as it is an instance of the art work, an aspect of the art work, a highly shaped possibility of the work.

    Good tools for making anything generally offer a much wider set of possible creations than what we see in programmed art works. This is not so much a failing of the art works as inherent in the distinction between a tool and a work of art.

    That said, some works of net art offer very vast combinatorial and also creative possibilities and blur the line between the tool and the work of art.


  • Comment number 36.

    I am a poet, fiction writer, essayist, art critic and web artist originally from Montreal, now based in South Devon. I have been using the using the internet as a medium for creation and dissemination since 1993 and have been creating non-linear, intertextual, multi-media, web-based art works since 1995. I financially support myself by creating, exhibiting, curating, teaching, performing and writing about writing digital media and web art. I have presented, performed and exhibited web-based work alongside countless contemporaries, pioneers, mentors and muses, in museums, galleries, and festivals around the world. I have been awarded grants to create web-based work from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec and in 2006 I was commissioned to create a web-based art work for the 50th anniversary of the Montreal Arts Council. My web-based work has been presented at the Musée de Beaux-arts (Montreal), the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto), The Rhizome ArtBase at New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York), Jyväskylä Art Museum (Finland), The Web Biennial 2007 (Istanbul), Cast Gallery (Tasmania), Interrupt Festival 2008 (Brown), Media in Transition Conference 2009 (MIT), the Electronic Literature Organization Conference 2008 (Vancouver, Washington) and E-Poetry 2009 (Barcelona) and is included in the Electronic Literature Collection Volume One and the forthcoming Volume Two. I currently serve as the president of the board of directors of OBORO, an artist-run gallery and new media lab in Montreal that has been commissioning, supporting the creation of and believing in the existence of web-based art work since 1996. In two weeks I will present and perform web-based work at The Banff Centre, in Alberta Canada, where I created my first web-based work in 1995. For more information about any of these works or organizations, visit:

  • Comment number 37. has been commissioning net art since 1996. It also
    exhibits and promotes the works and their artists.

  • Comment number 38.

    I would like to recognize and appreciate Mr. Gompertz - as thanks to his mistake (which I understand is quite a HUGE one :-) and to all you guys who were kind enough to answer and suggest things, I have got to know so much about a new thing i have never heard of! that's absolutely great- it seems his mistake had actually done more good than bad to the awareness to internet art- at least to people like me.

  • Comment number 39.

    this has really become an archive for net-art, so it seems, as well as a stage for some artists, curators and organizations to publish their stuff- how cool is that!! wow I am really happy- really neede to say that again...

  • Comment number 40.

    You can't find ANY interesting Internet based artwork?? Some good links above...

  • Comment number 41.

    here is Vuk Cosic...a true early voice of new media and his peers and influences

  • Comment number 42.

    here is one I worked on that is in the whitney museum's online longer live but edited narratives by online earthquake data from san andreas fault sensors

  • Comment number 43.

    Yes, do try, and then, then, and then, and then...

  • Comment number 44.

    net art? here's an oldy but goody:

    although she's mostly just surviving as documentation these days...

  • Comment number 45.

    Hi Will

    I'm sure you feel embarrassed now, but it's actually great that you ask your question in such a public arena.

    Net Art isn't well known among the general public - or from my experience by the gallery world - yet it's a wonderful exciting brave vibrant - and very relevant -area of art - as links you've received show.

    There's a lot going on here and you should get involved.

  • Comment number 46.

    I had some funny time reading this article and all the reactions it produced, on this blog and around the Web (check out, among other things, Lauren Cornell's contribution on Rhizome - - and the CRUMB thread on Personally, as an art critic strongly interested in Net Art, I don't think that Mr. Will Gompertz just needs some links to "hot" web projects, neither informations of any kind. He doesn't write "I can't find any net-based art", but "I can't find any net-based art of note". As the following statement suggests, Mr. Gompertz knows very well what Net Art is: "Duchamp and the Dadaists would have had hours of artistic amusement creating spoof websites, unintelligible Wiki entries and general questioning of the status quo." Well, at least 50% of the best Net Art is "spoof websites, unintelligible Wiki entries and general questioning of the status quo."

    So, if I see a problem here, it isn't a problem of ignorance, but of critical judgement. What we have here is a mid-career art critic - one who wrote for the Times and the Guardian and who ran Tate Online before joining the BBC as arts editor - who claims that, among the many net art projects he came in touch with along his brilliant career, he didn't find anything that can be described as "a significant artwork". This may mean either that Net Art, along the last 15 years, didn't produced anything noteworthy or that Net Art, after roughly 15 years of existence, still challenges the evaluation criteria and critical tools available for a mid-career, traditionally trained contemporary art critic.

    Both the options above can be right of course. My little experience in the field makes me believe in the last one. It may help us to understand why, among other things, important art critics not strictly connected with the art market (and thus potentially interested in critical practices), such as Hal Foster or Rosalind Krauss, were never able to get it. And I think that, if we'll be able to focus the discussion on these topics - how Net Art challenges traditional criticism? do we really need "other criteria" in order to understand it and its positioning in the contemporary art field? - Mr. Gompertz's remarks will turn out to be really useful.

    My bests,
    Domenico Quaranta

  • Comment number 47.

    beautiful, although i fear an inaccuracy in your images may upset the artistes in question; you show keith and eric as exponents of the fender telecaster...

  • Comment number 48.

    Net art works that gets beyond strictly imitating old media are machines. They are machines that you are asked to operate, to drive, steer, venture in, do, compose, decompose, play, stir, engage, solve, prod, tame, and so on.

    When I have submitted proposals to arts juries, they want a video of it. The adjudicators have refused to ask the jury to interact with it. But they just can't get it if they don't interact with it. Interaction is a type of narrativity. Narrativity is how one thing leads to another.

    When we watch somebody play a game, it isn't as interesting as when we ourselves play it. The person themself has to interact with the piece to appreciate it fully. It's often a one-to-one thing.

    I don't think many art critics are computer literate. Concerning interactive interfaces and their modes of narrativity. If you can't connect with the means of or the central narrative of a piece, you're lost.

    The next generation will be fine, though.

    Also, people full of preconceptions about what constitutes quality in an art are too quick to apply their preconceptions to new forms. I have done quite a bit of writerly net art, building literary machines, and sometimes I'm told that they lack enough words and proper sentences. I can write proper sentences and was a poemy poet long before I touched a computer, but these new forms are better suited to lettristic approaches to language, at least in the sorts of literary machines I've been interested in making.

    My work is typically quite intensely engaged with language, but the engagement is not a traditionally poemy one. It is, however, quite sensitive to the language environments that appear before our eyes on the computer monitor.

    I'm just not that interested in the poemy poem anymore, at least on a computer screen. Though I read lots of them in books still. They're almost unreadable to me on a computer screen, often. I need to create work that is more communicative with language on a computer screen, and I need to find that sort of work on the net by others. And I think that coming generations with the literary impulse will share this need because they will also usually be computer literate.


  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

  • Comment number 52.

    Internet art... I may be biased, but I'm a big fan of Retro-Goudaism. A fine example can be found here:

  • Comment number 53.

    Although a very clever piece of work, one aspect took away from its concept: the twig within the guitar string is a little trite and "false."

  • Comment number 54.

    This is the front cover to Oval's latest album, Oh. I wonder if the artwork and the album are related?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.