Manifesto for Art of the Net

What is contemporary art?

Is dabbing liquids on canvas (old oil painting) contemporary art? Is contemporary art really achieved by cluttering up spaces in museums with "installations"? Not at all. These are the arts of previous eras.
To admire an old picture is to pour our sensibility into a funeral urn instead of casting it forward with violent spurts of creation and action. Do you want to waste the best part of your strength in a useless admiration of the past, from which you will emerge exhausted, diminished, trampled on?
Futurist Manifesto, Filippo Tomasso Marinetti, 1909
The art of this century is digital, interactive and open-source. It is so new, so different, so unlike the past that the art establishment hasn't grokked the sea-change yet.

The art of this century is still so new that half the artists don't even know they are doing it yet.
The time has come for us to be the masters.
Aesthetic Meditations, Guillaume Apollinaire, 1913
So what is this new art?

Hello! It's the internet, doh! But with a twist.

We use many verbs after the word "Internet". The Internet sells..., teaches..., preaches...

But can the Internet beautify? Or inspire? Or move you?

Can there be web sites that you go to just as you might go visit a museum or attend a concert - so that you might be moved or feel connected to something greater than yourself?

Can there be web sites that are simply and purely works of art?

Is the destiny of the Web to be a method of sending out commercial advertising, learned treatises and pornography? Or are there other possibilities?
The imagination is perhaps on the point of reasserting itself, of reclaiming its rights. If the depths of our mind contain within it strange forces capable of augmenting those on the surface, or of waging a victorious battle against them, there is every reason to seize them.

Manifesto of Surrealism
, André Breton (1924)
There is beginning to be evidence that the Internet is as valid a media as paper, film or piano. There are occasional glimpses of exquisite forms embedded in pop-up animations. From time to time web pages appear that are profoundly moving though we may not be able to say why.

But these experiences are still few and far between.

What we do see are hundreds of pages where you can buy the art of previous centuries. Many artist's have put their Artists Statements on-line and have photo galleries of their archaic works. Great artists also build the sets on online games and create stunning visual effects for advertising. Artists cannot starve all the time after all.

These antique uses for the Internet are almost the work of an enemy. It's as if piano's were only used to create jingles for commercials. It's as if canvas paintings could only depict images of products to be sold.

With the Internet we have phenomenal creativity engine at our disposal and yet we are still using only a fraction of its potential power. The Internet will eventually be the essential repository for form and meaning. We who love art must begin to call to artists to learn to harness this power.

And we must make this call not merely for the sake of art itself. There is the dark side to be dealt with as well. Is your world a happy place? Are the people well fed (neither too little nor too much)? Is your world free of religious war and mayhem. Are your tax dollars being well spent. Is there enough money for your retirement. No, no and more no's. We live in a world with thousands of complex issues that need sorting out. The politicians, the CEO's, the economists, the religious leaders of our times send out so many mixed messages that it seems impossible to have a clear vision about where the world will be 100 years from now.

Did you just hear the words "clear vision"? So what sort of people have clear visions that can transform civilizations? Artists, of course. People like Giotto, Manet, Picasso or Mozart and Beethoven or Dante, Shakespeare or Joyce have been able to clarify their eras.

We now have a splendid new media to create the art of this century and the people of this century have an urgent need for the clarity of vision that great art engenders.

Artists, now is time for you to weave your selves, your brains, your visions into the world wide web.