Anne Lise Wullum (born 1968)
Anne Lise Wullum has a Master of Science degree in Educational Technology Leadership
and Multimedia from California State University, where she has also been a University
lecturer. She has a Cand. Mag. degree (BA) in Media Studies from the University
of Oslo, including studies in Literature and Music. Her area of specialty is
Internet art and new media. Her scientific work on net.art has been published
in the anthology: Liestøl and Rasmussen (red.) “Internet in Change”,
Novus Forlag (Novus Publishing) Oslo, 2001. Wullum also worked as net art critic
at Kunstnett Norge (Art Net Norway). Wullum is currently employed as head of
department for educational design and online education at InfoPark AS, and collaborates
with the American company LeapFrog on a project using interactive hand-held
educational toys in schools.
net.art and aesthetics
by Anne Lise Wullum, member of the curatorial group.
net.art is a form of Internet art. The umbrella term Internet art, or net art
covers net-dot-art, web art and online art. Of course there are nuances between
these three art forms, which distinguish them from one another. The term net.art
describes a particular phase within Internet art – the period between
1994 and 1999. net.art was made by and created for the Internet, and was only
to be found there.
The early period of Internet art was restricted by technical limitations, so it was not a coincidence that many of the pioneering projects within net.art consisted of conceptual or formalistic HTML and text-based projects with coding as a core aesthetic element. Despite these limitations, some artists such as Heath Bunting and jodi would probably have chosen the same strategy no matter how limited their access to more sophisticated technology. Any other claim would be a deterministic underestimation of net.art.
net.art was about experimenting with a new medium: Internet. This new medium allowed artists to break down the barriers between the author and the viewer, between the public and the private sphere, between art and everyday experience. net.art projects often examined and focused upon the opportunities offered by this new medium. net.art was a self-referential art form in that the pieces produced were often about themselves and their own conception. One typical modernistic ploy was to deconstruct the medium, making an artwork from it. jodi did this by challenging the visual borderlines of the Web, turning it inside out to reveal the reverse of the moon. These artists were making codes about coding, just as others before had made paintings about painting itself.
The aesthetics of net.art were often about the connotations of viruses, codes and computer faults. It would be a mistake to view net.art as an art form alone. Other perspectives such as media science, information theory and communication theory are just as relevant to the understanding of net.art and the aesthetic it employs. Without inside knowledge of Internet as a medium and the technology behind it, one may well miss out on many important aspects of net.art – the insider gimmicks, the humor and the irony. The better acquainted the viewer is with the language or palette that this art form employs, the greater his or her ability to enjoy or be frustrated by net.art.
In light of this, net.art in my opinion represented a particularly formalistic departure from the media theoretician, Marshall McLuhan’s assertion that all new forms of media imitate the old, and that they therefore lack their own distinctive aesthetic. From a formalistic point if view, net.art was certainly something more than a meta-medium for older media. This art form presupposed aesthetics as an integral part of the medium, and one might rather say that it was a meta-medium for itself. In many ways, net.art made an important contribution to Internet art by focusing upon aspects of the medium that are often taken for granted. No matter what one considers being art, net.art have played an important artistic role. In a number of ways net.art have pointed towards the essential experience of working with this medium – which has become the most important of our time.
Not all net.art or other forms of Internet art are worth attention. Internet offers a completely open and liberal opportunity for production and distribution. This very fact means that there are numerous poor and uninteresting art projects on the Internet. On the other hand, although many art institutions and museums have already discovered a number of gems, there are undoubtedly many undiscovered stars winking at us from the Internet art heaven.
For a more detailed media-theoretic overview of net.art, see the report in Liestøl and Rasmussen (red.): Anne Lise Wullum: En brukerguide til nettkunst. Internett i Endring. Novus Forlag, 2001. (Anne Lise Wullum: A user’s guide to Internet art. Internet in Change). Internet version: