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The Uses of Networking.

Sue Gollifer

School of Art, & RSRC
Faculty of Art, Design & Humanities,
University of Brighton.


This case study examines the present and potential use by artists of global networking for collaborative projects in fine art, with particular attention to the Internet, the World Wide Web (WWW) and the formatting tool Mosaic.


There have been a number of 'virtual galleries' set up all over the world. I have constructed one displaying my own work, based at the University of Brighton.

This is a very exciting use of new technology, offering the opportunity for some interesting collaborative visual projects that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. This case study examines the implications for artists, analyses some of the projects that have already taken place, and suggests ideas for future proposals.


The metaphor of the Internet as a FHighway' that transports people to the locations of information and images, rather than goods, is an apt one. The implications for society (or at least that sector of society which can take advantage of the innovations) are profound, but the implications for the visual artists who can contribute to it actively and creatively are even more momentous.

The increasing ability to send visual images throughout the world, allowing access and exchanges, raises one of the crucial issues in the field of computer-generated art: the intangibility of the artwork. The work is essentially a freely available signal, rather than a visual artifact which can be packaged, marketed and sold. Another issue is that of authenticity: who 'owns' it- does it even exist? Computer-aided art in its purest form is not concerned with artifact but with communication and interaction. Issues raised will include the ontology of the art object, and the identity of the artist in relation to the work.

Up until now most artists have used computers mainly as a tool, employing prepackaged software that mimics the traditional media of an artist's palette: paper, canvas, paint, pencils; and allowing for image retouching, collage and combination of images and text. Calculations which once occupied hours can now be completed with greater accuracy in seconds, leaving more time for the purely human judgments which remain fundamental to art. Images can be reduced and enlarged, and edited pixel by pixel. Manipulation may include deleting and cloning, or combining parts of the image with different objects, changing their colour and brightness. Instead of the mixing of paint and substance it is replaced with the mixing of minute pixels of light and colour.

With the growth of the Internet, however, an emergence of the significance of the online presence of the artists and their work has implications for the future of art and its audiences, as well as for communication technology and its consumer. The world is undergoing a communications revolution. New digital tools allow previously unheard-of connectivity and access to an ever-expanding universe of informstion

The Internet has existed since the late 1960s in one form or another, growing in size, scope and ease of access since then. The 1990s are an exciting time in the evolution of the Internet, for we are witnessing the humanisation of cyberspace. Much of the research focus is now on Interface design, yielding sophisticated Internet navigation tools like Mosaic.

The Internet: background information.

What is the Internet? It is a network of networks, with millions of computers potentially connected to one another. Although it originated in the USA, it is now a growing global network.

Nobody runs the Internet - at least not yet - so there is no central ownership of the technology involved in its operation. Users therefore have a great deal of freedom in the content of what is sent and received, and there is at present no commercial structure governing the availability or use of material.

Information Servers

An Internet-based Information Server is a computer that runs a program to handle incoming requests for information.There are many types of Information Servers on the Internet, but the ones most commonly used are FTP, Telnet, Gopher, and Wide-Area Information Service (WAIS).

The Development of the World Wide Web and Mosaic

The WWW is very similar in design to the Internet-based information servers. However it offers several unique advances, including a document-orientated view of computing that offers formatted text and graphics instead of menu lists. The Internet's 'heart of gold' is a hypertext system that spans the world.

World Wide Web & CERN

The WWW originated at the particle Physics laboratory (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. The initiators used hypertext technology to link together a web of documents that could be accessed in any manner to seek out information. The Web does not resemble a hierarchical tree, but it allows many possible relations between any individual document to another on the Internet, no matter where the documents may have been originated.

The development of Mosaic at NSCA

The National Centre for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), based at the University of Illinois (UIUC), was funded by the National Science Foundation to provide supercomputing resources to the research community, and to build some sort of national infrastructure.

Mosaic was developed by a student at NCSA during 1993. He was involved in building tools for scientific visualisation, and developed Mosaic as one of these tools. When he first developed Mosaic he looked around the WWW and discovered the HyperText Mark-up Language (HTML), that had been developed at CERN. It soon became evident to him that Mosaic offered a great deal more: with its easy-to-use interfaces and navigational links to the web, as well as the ability to show images, Mosaic could make the internet accessible to a wider audience. It was soon highly acclaimed by the government, the press and the Internet users' community, and NCSA expanded the development of Mosaic and made it freely available "for academic research and internal business purposes only".

Anyone can make a copy of Mosaic, and different versions have been released for different computing platforms. The WWW entails authoring documents in a particular format defined by the system. Because of the specifications, anyone can build a 'Client' or a 'Server'. Both factors encourage people to contribute to it, and like most things on the Internet it has turned into one vast collaborative project.

Features of Mosaic include:

It has proved so successful that commercial software developers have become interested in taking the development of Mosaic further. Because Mosaic is copyrighted, anyone wanting to modify it must seek a license. In August 1994 NCSA announced an agreement with Spyglass, Inc. to be the licensing agent for Mosnic. In the meantime several of the original developers of Mosnic have left NCSA and developed their own version: Netscape, which is receiving very favourable response from the Internet community.

Artist's use of the Internet

I make no apologies for this case study being based on my own personal discipline of using the Internet, although it includes much from the experiences and information gathered from other artists I have met during my journeys around the Internet.

In setting out to make this study I am aware that it is impossible to assemble a definitive list of the kinds of use that artists make, or might make of the Internetr and its many Networks: it is out of date as soon as it is written down, as the WWW grows bigger with every second.

What specific uses can Artists make of the Internet?

1. They can exchange E-mail

2. They can belong to Newsgroups

Mailbase discussion groups, exchanging information and advice on a variety of art-based topics, ideas, exhibitions, collaborative projects etc. The particular group that I belong to is: ARTNET

3. They can receive information about their professional art practice.

4. They can obtain information for research and scholarly activities.

5. They can obtain access to free Software, Shareware, Demos and Commercial Software updates.

6. They can communicate with other Artists in a Virtual Community

"I spend my days in a room, physically isolated. My mind, however, is linked with a worldwide collection of like-minded (and not so like-minded) souls: My virtual community. If you get a computer and a modem, you can join us."

Howard Rheingold

Virtual Communities" WHOLE EARTH REVIEW, Winter 1988

(A larger list of Art Sources to Galleries and other information, these give hyperlinks to art resources on the web, canb be found in Appendix I to this paper)

8. They can access and explore Art Sites on the World Wide Web

Museums and Art Galleries on the Web

The Web is particularly suited to image-intensive displyas. it has a great number of Virtual Galleries whose objects are freely available for the personal use of the viewer: Newsites for viewing images appear daily.

There are a number of Museums and Art Galleries on the Web. Both traditional and electronic media are represented. One can distinguish between them as saying some of the Galleries are purely archival, with a certain selectivity involved within them. There are other sites where a whole range of artists are asked to exibit their work with no common factor apart from having links on the page, so are self selecting.

My own Untitled Gallery:

-is typical of many Virtual Galleries on the WWW

The images are low- resolution digitized print saved as a JPEG format. Each image is represented by a small thumbnail version saved as RAW, which is clicked or selected to retrieve the the full screen version. The Untitled Gallery also contains a biography, a list of recent exhibitions I have participated in, plus a list of public galleries which own my prints, and a recent statement on my work.

(A list of some of the Galleries on the WWW that I consider interesting for one reason or another can be found in Appendix II to this paper.)

9. To boldly go.....Hot Wired

What Is HotWired?
HotWired is new thinking for a new medium, a cyberstation, a suite of vertical content streams about the Digital Revolution and the Second Renaissance with an integrated community space. While HotWired is currently bound by technological limitations that restrict bandwidth, it represents the genetic blueprint that will evolve into the overarching media environment of the next century.


This has been an extremely interesting case study to do, and I feel that having embarked on this voyage of cyber Art space, that there is so much more to find out and explore that I feel rather loathe to draw it to a conclusion. But this is probably the beginning of a much larger more intensive survey of the 'uses of the Internet for Artist's', as many of the sites need to be visited regularly over a period of time to see how they develop and progress.

On the negative side it seemed a pity that many of the online galleries offer digitally rendered versions of existing (analog) artwork, or digital images created for screen display. Some did have interactive elements, to navigate through various exhibits, t select images from a list, or to link to other online Galleries. Others provided forms for purchasing the artwork in its original, non-digital state, or allowed users to leave comments or access artists' biographies. Many of the home pages were also not very visually stimulating, and showing too much text.The use of the Web as an inexpensive means of exposure is an innovation in its own right, but there is a dearth of truly experimental installations. Most sites only use the Web as a new place to hang pictures, and I include my own Untitled Gallery, as being a typical example of this.

If today's artists can achieve so much with the limited computer technology that's currently available can we look forward to a new renaissance as we move into twenty t first century. The image information product in the form of electronic codes is open up to most unlimited possibilities; manipulation storage and transmission. Visualisation will still provide the potential of manipulating vision, but what happens within a virtual space - it could be one of the most exciting challenges artists have ever faced. It would seem a great pity if artists did make use of this new technology, the opportunity for global collaborative projects.We must jump out of the frame into this new space.

APPENDIX I: Art Sources to Galleries and other information.

These give hyperlinks to art resources on the web

Access Art
Medium for Global Access, Inc. Drop by our Information Center, Access Art. The way artists and collectors connect.

Art Home
This service will give you access to the work of some artists. It is possible to add your own work to this Gallery.

Art on the Net
Join fellow artists in sharing and creating works together on the Internet. Enjoy visiting artists' studios and roaming the gallery.

Arts and Technology Resource and Reference An information map of ideas, tools, organisations, people and sources... ATLAS exists to provide information resources to help bridge the infonnation gap befween artists and technologists in the wide-ranging area of creativity in new media. As a result, the material contained here covers a wide spectrum, from interface design to analysis of the social issues of technology, presented in a variety of formats.

FineArt Forum Directory of Art Related Web Resources
This directory is meant to serve as a resource and jumping-off place for people interested in art, and in the possible relationships between art and technology.


http://WWW.OTIS.ORG/ The OTIS Project: online gallery and collaboration experiment

NEXUS: Network Projects by Artists
Investigation of aesthetic and critical issues on the interface between art and tech nology. . . NEXUS supports exploratory projects by artists, theorists, and researchers in avante-garde and leading edge developments in the use of telecommunications as both content and medium of, creativity. These projects vary in scope and intent, from the literany and critical to the expressive and visual.

WWW art gallery. Here you will find various online art gallerys and groups interested itl the interaction of art and technology as well as announcements of upcoming events.

The WebWeavers are a networked virhual grop of artists and creative computer professionals dedicated to the promotion and development of multimedia applications of the InterNet. Not based on industrial but information age organisational methodology, the WebWeavers operate on synarchist principles. We are a flexible coalition forming in time/space and assembling on an as and when needed basis. We are involved in design, production, training and consulting activities in applications

APPENDIX II: Sites that I feel are worth visiting:

1. Individual Galleries

These could be seen as artist's studios open to visitors rather than as commercial galleries.

The Place
In The Place there are no objects, spaces, or bodies. Remember these things are not sacred in themselves. The Place explores the boundary between tool and myth, instrument and concept (to see the ways in which they mutually constitute each other). In the Place, the translation of the world becomes a problem in coding. The Place requires new constructions of bodily reality. Never fail to recognize the difference between self and other. Avoid any confusion of boundaries. The Place will not be appreciated by all. But it presents its own seduction. The Place is inhabited by random memories, dream-addicted mercenaries, and second-hand scraps of excitement.

Nathan Wagoner's Digital Studio
These pages are an attempt to mirror my studio in 'real' space. They hold electronic work as well as work made in traditional media. The newest addition is the complete series of allegorical paintings, from photo-cd. New work is added as it happens, though I try to make major additions around the beginning of the month. You are invited to stop in anytime.

Art by Ruth Kedar
I work with a variety of media, from Monotypes to Digital Art. Since I am particularly interested in variations, patterns and developing new visual languages, the choice of the above media is self-evident.

My fine arts portfolio, as well as all other projects I have been involved with, concentrate on the above areas of interest. After struggling for a while on how to curate my internet shadio, I have decided to divide it into four major themes: Digital Art, Monotypes, Mixed Media, and Playing Cards .

The artist has been lurking online for over a year now and the art displayed here can be found echoing around cyberspace. All pictures were drawn completely on the computer (not scanned) from a tiny brown grotto somewhere near the Pacific Ocean. The exhibit is divided into three rooms: Native American Indian Influences, Collages, and Grab Bag .

2. Group Galleries

Holmes Fine Art Gallery Action Experimental Art
An evolving exhibition devoted to Art & Technology. This exhibition presents the work of seventeen artists whose work explores the frontier of the new media and technologly. On exhibition will be a diverse selection of works includitlg Digital Art, Digital Photography, Machine Sculptllre, Interactive Mlultimedia Installations, Artificial Environment... and other stuff that moves and blazes.

Art Crimes
This is a gallery of graffiti art from various cities. It's called "Art Crimes" because in most places, painting graffiti is illegal. Many of these pieces no longer exist in the real world. Each little picture in the gallery is a link to a bigger, better picture. If you want to see one, just click on it with your mouse.

3. Institutional Galleries

Virtual Gallery: Design Research Centre, Derby
The Design Research Centre was established in 1992. It is located at Derby Ur,uversity, UK
This galleny aims to showcase exciting new work produced by artists and students in the UK. The first co1npleted "wing" of the gallery - The Electronic Wing - consists of a wide variety of work produced using various technological methods ranging from computer-aided image processing and computer- generated imagery to a more limited (but by no means less creative) medium, the colour photocopier.

The @Gallery Affiliated with the School of Art and Design, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
In February of 1993, an electronic gallery ad319 was born, from the simultaneous efforts of three artists trained in traditional mediums, all of whom were attempting to embrace new digital technologies. The idea of working as a collective seemed an effective waytto pool our knowledge, and an efficient means of addressing the issues we face as contetnporary artists and educators. One outgrowth of this collaborative approach has been the @art gallery.

4. Museums

Musee du Louvre

The Andy Warhol Museum
The Andy Warhol Museum is essential to the understanding of the most influential American artist of the second half of the 20th century. It is also a primary resource for anyone who wishes to gain insights into contemporary art and popular culture. More than 500 works of art and extensive displays of related archival material are shown together and offer the visitor an integrated presentation of the development of Warhol's work with emphasis on specific thematic concerns.

Krannert Art Museum
The Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion, located on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, houses a collection of more fhan eight thousand works of art, ranging in date frozn the fourth millennium B.C. to the present in nine permanent galleries. Four additional galleries offer a variety of special exhibitions, changing frequently throughout the year.

The Ohio State University at Newark, Art Gallery
The Ohio State University at Newark, Art Gallery has been established since 1968. The gallery fnally moved to its present location in Le Fevre Hall in 1994. The space has been increased 10 fold and is suitable for exhibiting all forms of art. The Art Gallery is excited to make its exhibitions available to a world wide community by committing itself to exhibiting local, national and international artists of all statures. By making the space available to all types of art, The Art Gallery hopes to further the arts and art education in Licking County, Ohio as well as in the national and international arena.

Other exibitions such as the one at the Guggenheim Museum in 1994 and the exhibition planned at The National Gallery in WashingtonD.C. for this fall or the Wexner Center for the Arts in September 1995 may include some of the works exhibited in this show. However, many of the works exhibited here will probably not be shown to the public again.

The first exhibition featured Roy Lichtenstein Pre-Pop, 1948-1960 . The famous American artist has been creating works for well over four decades. However, his close connection to The Ohio State University during this time makes this exhibit of utmost importance to the Newark Campus of The Ohio Stafe University

Exhibition Images, Roy Lichtenstein
The images included in this selection were actually on exhibit at the Art Gallery at the Ohio State University at Newark. Private collectors and public museums have graciously made these works Available for viewing. However, none of the images can or shall be reproduced, or be used in any other way, without the written consent of the owners or museums.

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