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November 16, 2006

Garrett Lynch's review of


Networked Art: Practices and Positions

Finally managed to get hold of a copy of Network Art (perhaps the world’s most difficult to get net.art book) edited by Tom Corby (of Corby and Bailey and teaches Media Art at the University of Westminster) and gradually worked my way through it when I had a spare moment between classes.

The book, an outcome of research funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Board, takes a similar approach to Tilman Baumgärtel’s net.art 2.0 (and there is a text by Baumgärtel entitled The ludic hack: artistic explorations of computer games) in that it gives an overview of the practice of a selection of artists working with networks (principally the internet), their art, themes and method of working. It shouldn’t be compared with net.art 2.0 however as it does this differently. It takes a less historic overview of net.art, is more concerned with current practice than origins or development of the genre and this is executed in a number of ways, interviews, writings about art work, ideas and themes (net.art 2.0 is entirely interviews with the artists conducted by Baumgärtel).

The book is broken down into two sections, Contexts and Practices. Contexts, the first section, prepares the reader for some of the art discussed in Practices and contains writings by some of the most important theorists currently writing, curating and teaching about net.art and new media theory. Charlie Gere, Reader in New Media Research and Director of Research at Lancaster University, author of Digital Culture and Art, Time and Technology introduces the reader to The history of networked art, Sarah Cook who works at the University of Sunderland and has jointly set up Crumb, a new media curatorial reseource (also funded by the AHRB), with Beryl Graham writes about Context-specific curating on the web while Baumgärtel has a chapter which is already mentioned above.


While the book is certainly a valid and welcome contribution to the area of net.art I do have a few issues with it. Due to the availability and price of this book, Routledge have put this out of the range of any curious readers / artists (at £75, sharp intake of breath, certainly any students) and refused to publish the paperback version (there was an ISBN released for this as it was initially listed on Amazon - send them an email requesting it), this is a publication which will only be bought by those who know the area well and are most likely practicing net.artists or researchers. The necessity of a chapter covering the history of net.art becomes a little redundant. This is certainly not an oversight of the author (Charlie Gere) or the Editor (Tom Corby) but of the publisher. Practices is a little less successful in my opinion than Contexts again this is related to who the book is targeted at. The contributors to Practices The Yes Men, Thompson and Craighead and 0100101110101101.org amongst others while contributing good texts are very much the standard fare of artists and we know these artists and their works very well. They are what have become the net.arts who have made the transition to the contemporary art world and exhibit widely. From a personal perspective it is a shame the book does not start to move away from net.art and discuss the now rapidly developing field of networked art (see Baumgärtel distinction) as it seems to suggest it will which we are seeing on weblogs such as here, Networked Performance and occasionally We Make Money Not Art.

All in all, a good publication which unfortunately simply will not get a significant audience. I can’t find any reference to contents of this book anywhere on the web although there is a list of contributors on the University of Westminster’s website. So above is a photo of the contents page. [posted by Garrett on Network Research]

Posted by jo at November 16, 2006 07:05 PM