Net art, new media art and Post-Internet: when copying and pasting practically becomes religion


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On August 6, 1991, an English computer scientist named Tim Berners-Lee published the first website in history, essentially founding something that would radically change the lives and habits of people everywhere: the World Wide Web.

Just a few years later, in the late 1990s, a group of artists (including Vuk Ćosić, Alexei Shulgin, Jodi, Olia Lialina and Heath Bunting) tapped into hacker culture to produce the core of what would become net art.

Characterized by an “ironic-Dadaist” spirit, net artists played with parody, manipulation, mistakes, and the de-structuring of webpages, as they professed principles such as “total web anarchy” and rejected the very concept of copyrighted work.

Bolstered with these ideas, net artists soon turned into a group of serial recyclers ready to plunder the web far and wide (code, images, games, videos, text, databases) to find raw materials that would enliven their projects.

Arising in the wake of events such as the birth of Web 2.0 websites and early social networking platforms, new media art is related to net art, as they share a similar ethos.

In reality, new media art is neither a movement nor a trend, but rather a simple label that covers a wide range of artistic practices based on advanced technology.

New media artists and net artists are united by their propensity for recycling and remixing materials that, for the most part, are taken from the web without permission.

Lastly, in chronological order, is the trend known as Post-Internet art, a creative form that reflects the web and the effects of the internet on society through the production of conventional works of art such as paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs and installations.

Though connected to experiences such as new media art, Post-Internet art is characterized by greater attention to the demands of the art market, but it maintains, with respect to new media art, a certain taste for the free use of materials that have been “borrowed” from the web.

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