A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Art Education -

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As sounds and images being transferred into tapes or nowadays as bit by bit traveling on
the information highway, people query the existence of the spirituality, originality or as
Benjamin puts, aura, of artwork. What would be the aura, the meaning, and the functions of art
after the history of industry and post-industry, are discussed as following session.

Context of Art and Postmodernism

Bringing Internet Art to Life

In 2001 August, Internet artist Keith Obadike lunched his Internet art performance on
ebay, a popular online auction web site. The item Obadike intended to sell is his “blackness”.
“Keith Obadike’s Blackness Item #1176601036” was the title of the item that Obadike put on
Ebay. Without any imagery information regarding this item, Obadlike wrote an illusive
description of “what buyers would obtain in exchange for money was ironic but elusive
references to the history of objectifying black bodies in the slave trade and the contemporary
commodifying of black culture”(Fusco, 2001). Obadike had received various responses from
web visitors, including European net.art curators. Yet this item on auction was terminated by
ebay four days after he launched this performance on the web. Ebay informed him that the item
“was found “inappropriate”(Fusco, 2001).
According to Fusco (2001), there have been many artists who have claimed that their
selling items on Ebay are their artworks, and most of their actions are ironic on purpose. Yet
Obadike was the only artist that has been heard whose sale on ebay was terminated by ebay.
Obadike states his intention as follow in his interview with Fusco:
I was interested in making a project that dealt with commerce online. I was also very
tired of the trend of net.artists posing as corporations and not really saying much. While
watching what many were doing with net.art, I didn’t really see net artists dealing with
this intersection of commerce and race. I really wanted to comment on this odd Euro
colonialist narrative that exists on the web and black peoples’ position within that
narrative. I mean, there are browsers called Explorer and Navigator that take you to
explore the Amazon or trade in the ebay. It’s all just too blatant to ignore(Fusco, 2001,
web resource).

Keith Obdike’s work is an example of Internet art that has moved away from the notion
of traditional aesthetic discourse and the technology itself, an example that the medium is not the
message. As Fusco (2001) has documented the Obadike’s work on the Internet, which the
performance artist utilizes the Internet auction web site to create the aura that does not lie on the
art form. Although there is no fancy website design, no specific computer coding, yet the “aura”
of this work is created—from the text, the discussion, and the consequence from the performance
of artists. More important, artist’s political concern has generated the meaning in the
multicultural society of America.

As with every other type of art, the conditions under which approach of Internet art is
practiced, the effects and the climate of Internet art are qualitatively different from artists to
artists. Concerning the condition of Internet art, there are three categories that can be discussed
under social context: the values expressed by Internet artworks, the positions of individual
Internet artists in relation to communities, and the players of Internet art. All of these concerns
are related to the communication of information infrastructure. As discussed, many writers point
out that the image of artists as a social deviant (Bell, 1958) is historically recent and culturally
contained (Braman, 1994; Anderson, 1995, 1997). With various human experiences under
different time, space and domains, artists are “cross-dimensional glue that links the spiritual with
the material, the past with the present, social continuity with the need to adapt and innovate”
(Braman, 1994). Thus, Internet artists and their works of art are the sources that offer opinions
toward human society, or as producers and consumers of ideology (Adorno, 1990). Taking the
position to view that an Internet artist is the border crosser among systems of society, a source of
complexity and of innovation, I then next discuss the ideas of postmodern theories in relation to
the consequential development of contemporary art that have influenced the practice of Internet
art in recent years.

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