Web Projects

Computer and web art have some problems. There is a long list of reasons why, but CAE will limit itself to the big three. First and foremost, the research into electronic media is just beginning. Computer art can't be expected to have the developed vocabulary of an ancient medium like painting after just 20 years. Add to this problem that most of the research done has to be thrown out because the technology is developing so quickly (again, unlike a medium like painting that has a very stable technological structure, which in turn allows for considered pedagogy and focused research). Communication and information technology change from year to year, if not faster. It's a full-time job just to keep up with the software. Who has time or capabilities to think solely about electronic process as an artistic endeavor?

Problem two: The "wowie zowie effect." A lot of work is just a demonstration of the often impressive capabilities of the hardware or software. However, even when there is reasonable content in this type of work, it gets lost in the "wze." The technology itself becomes the content, and few artists have figured out how to retard this emergent property.

Problem three: Monumentality. The project has to be big; it has to be overwhelming; it has to be global. If the project is not monumental, it's just the work of a common user. It's very unfortunate that the Modern means of intervening in art history by making work that is bigger and more spectacular than that which precedes it has replicated itself in the electronic environment.

CAE's main strategy for sidestepping these problems when producing work is to follow the motto "small and limited is better." A small, well-crafted, self-contained hypertext project for the web, for example, is far more interesting to CAE than the kind of work that is excessively beyond human scale and processing ability, because the "wze" is eliminated, and the content remains the content. CAE is interested in electronic work on a much more human scale. CAE asks, what can be done with everyday life consumer media technology within the time frame a person is typically willing to spend with a project, and given the user skills that are common to the computer using public? When such tactical considerations are made, computer art and its related technologies become a very viable information and display system that combines formal and conceptual qualities in a compelling and still enjoyable way. At the same time, no such artist will ever win the title of "electronic visionary" working in the domain of the common user. Happily, those of us who do content-driven art can live with that.

Critical Art Ensemble

Within the framework of La Biennale de Montréal, we have selected the work Diseases of Consciousness, produced in 1996. The work was reviewed in the third edition of The CIAC's Electronic Magazine.


resume of the artist


CIAC | CIAC's Electronic Art Magazine | version française |