Net Art – Definition, Examples, History & More – Digital Art and Technology Glossary

What is Net Art?

Net art is a form of digital art that is created and displayed online. It encompasses a wide range of artistic practices that utilize the internet as a medium for artistic expression. Net art can take many forms, including websites, interactive installations, animations, and multimedia projects.

Net art often blurs the boundaries between traditional art forms and digital technology, challenging the viewer to rethink their understanding of art and the ways in which it can be experienced. Artists working in this medium often explore themes such as interactivity, connectivity, and the impact of technology on society.

History of Net Art

The roots of net art can be traced back to the early days of the internet in the 1990s, when artists began experimenting with the possibilities of the medium. One of the earliest examples of net art is, a website created by the artist duo Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans in 1995. featured a series of chaotic and visually disruptive web pages that challenged the conventions of web design.

As the internet evolved, so too did net art. Artists began to explore new technologies and platforms, creating interactive and immersive online experiences that pushed the boundaries of traditional art forms. Net art became a way for artists to engage with a global audience and to challenge the traditional art world hierarchy.

One of the key characteristics of net art is its interactivity. Unlike traditional art forms, net art often requires the viewer to actively engage with the work, clicking, scrolling, and navigating through digital spaces in order to experience the artwork in its entirety. This interactive element allows for a more immersive and participatory experience for the viewer.

Another characteristic of net art is its use of multimedia elements. Net artists often incorporate a variety of media, including text, images, video, and sound, to create dynamic and engaging online experiences. These multimedia elements can be combined in innovative ways to create unique and compelling artworks that would not be possible in a traditional gallery setting.

Techniques and Tools used in Net Art

Net artists use a variety of techniques and tools to create their work, including programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These languages allow artists to manipulate and control the visual and interactive elements of their artwork, creating dynamic and responsive online experiences.

In addition to programming languages, net artists may also use software tools such as Adobe Creative Suite, Processing, and Unity to create and manipulate digital assets. These tools allow artists to experiment with different visual styles, animations, and interactive elements, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the digital realm.

Impact of Net Art on the Art World

Net art has had a profound impact on the art world, challenging traditional notions of art and expanding the possibilities of artistic expression. By utilizing the internet as a medium, net artists are able to reach a global audience and engage with viewers in new and innovative ways.

Net art has also influenced the way in which art is bought, sold, and exhibited. Online platforms such as Rhizome and Net Art Anthology have emerged as spaces for the exhibition and preservation of net art, providing a platform for artists to showcase their work and for viewers to engage with the medium.

Notable Net Artists

There are many notable net artists who have made significant contributions to the medium. Some of the most influential net artists include Olia Lialina, who is known for her early web-based artworks that explore themes of nostalgia and memory; Cory Arcangel, who creates playful and subversive digital interventions; and Eva and Franco Mattes, who use the internet as a medium for social commentary and critique.

These artists, along with many others, have helped to shape the landscape of net art and to push the boundaries of what is possible in the digital realm. Their work continues to inspire and challenge viewers, inviting them to rethink their understanding of art and the ways in which it can be experienced in the digital age.