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Artists On The Web
Artists sites and where to find 'em. The Bear guides you.
Like most Net users, artists have built websites to promote their own work. From Australia, Patricia Piccininis site ( www.patriciapiccinini.net) is probably one of the best out there. The sites super-clean and logical layout, tasty blow up Jpegs of Piccininis work and accessible text make it a pleasure to read and use.
Stelarc, the Australian performance artist who used to disturb students and non-artists by hanging himself from hooks (literally), has transferred his new cyber-art to the Web and his site (stelarc.va.com.au) charts his work accompanied by spooky sounds and visuals that ominously advise The body is obsolete. Nutty, incomprehensible and trimmed by all the fake gravitas the designers can muster, the site is like a cross between UFO conspiracy paranoia and a New Age religion.
Internationally, Damien Hirsts site fits the no-bullshit, greatest hits category with reproductions of his recent sell-out New York show. His entire back catalogue is also lovingly rendered as Jpegs. Go to www.damienhirst.cjb.net.
Speaking of Hirst, do you want to buy an original limited edition and signed Hirst print? Buying art on the web seems like a good idea but few sites manage to do it well or offer anything worth buying. Eyestorm (www.eyestorm.com) is the exception with first-rate works for sale by the likes of Hirst, Martin Parr, Dennis Hopper (yep, that one), Helmut Newton and Sebastião Salgado. Forget eBay this is where you get the good stuff.
Artists have also managed to infiltrate design companies, taking on corporate commissions and turning out works of art in the guise of product promotion. Probably one of the most radical and brilliant design companies around is the UK-based artist group, Hi-Res. ( www.hi-res.net). The creators of websites for Ninja Tune artist Amon Tobin (www.amontobin.com), films such as Requiem For A Dream (www.requiemforadream.com) and their own impressive site, Hi-Res subvert the boredom of corporate sites by parodying them (the Requiem site) or turning out high art masquerading as record company promos (www.ninjatune.com). Check em out and be thrilled.
There is also a proliferation of art-based sites that host links to artist web projects and other host projects themselves. Sydneys dLux (www.dlux.org.au) hosts artist sites during its annual festival. Built overseas, sites like Rhizome.org (rhizome.org) and Memepool (memepool.com) offer lively discussion boards on artists work as well as links and Web art for cyber diehards. You can find the most obscure artists on the Web.
Who the hell was Chesley Bonestell? An official NASA artist in the 1950s, an illustrator for Arthur C Clarke and a matte painter for Alfred Hitchcock. Bonestell created the spooky background paintings in films like Destination Moon, When Worlds Collide and Forbidden Planet. His work has been lovingly compiled at www.bonestell.org. Its a thing of beauty to see the surface of Mars or the rings of Saturn as viewed from Titan painted in glorious 1950s space-age bachelor-pad style.
Using the Web as art as opposed to promoting work is more problematic. Sites come and go without trace. Mobile Gaze (mobilegaze.com) typifies an ideal starting point to find out what artists are doing with digital arts online. Melinda Rackham is a Sydney-based artist whose own site (www.subtle.net) is linked from Mobile Gaze. Her site is a good example of what can be done on a limited budget, offering examples of her Web projects and viewable online video pieces. In a similar vein, the Tate Moderns site (www.tate.org.uk) has taken the brave step of allowing artists to hack their site and set up parody pop-up windows that take the piss out of the official host. For more straightforward hosting, but brilliant examples of what can be done with corporate sponsorship of artist projects on the web, go to the BBCs website (www.bbc.co.uk). It has an outstanding artist project page and offers online users the chance to post their own projects.
Ever thought of the Web as an art project in itself? Youre not alone, with some already posting the end of the Web. Check out www.mirrow.com/ or tema.ru/misc/dead_end.html, or even thedigitalpage.com/bimjo/the-end.html for a few examples. Now that really is the end.