While the Web is traditionally heralded as a venue to conduct business and research for fourth graders reports on dinosaurs or volcanoes, it has also been readily adopted by the art world.
Not just as a place to show off their art, either. Some Web artists have gotten even deeper into the medium, using the Webs interactive features and visual technologies to create a whole new online art genre.
Programs like Macromedia Flash let artists inject sound, movement, and even interactivity into their art, something that is impossible with conventional mediums. Their work literally jumps off the screen.
Take a photography exhibit where the models blink occasionally, or a kaleidoscope that changes as you drag your mouse around, or a short animation or film that utilizes unique Internet technologies to deliver its punch. With all the regurgitated and re-regurgitated material on the Web these days, its refreshing to find something original.
If anyone suggests that the Internet delivered the death blow to the arts, finishing off what television started in a cultural tag team cage match, here are some sites you might want to share with them.
This Is A Magazine www.thisisamagazine.com
Dont let the dull intro page fool you, this is mind-blowing stuff. There are four editions online, and each one is a worthwhile read. Each magazine features art, graphic art, Web art, photography, animation, and, mostly importantly, original content. Theres not a lot of reading, either, its all about visual impact.
Curious Media www.curiousmedia.com
Curious Media is a Flash-driven online showcase of one artists strange but undeniable talents. Cant find the content? Try taking a peek under the curtain. Youll find headings for art, toys, experiments and animation.
You should be able to get through the collection in about half an hour, but its a worthwhile browse. You do come away with the sense that the Internet just might have some cultural potential after all.
Sharpeworld.com, as near as I can figure, is a compendium of links to interesting sites and features in the artistic and cultural vein, although a lot of the content is as original and irreverent as the concept: Before and after shots of "facial feminization surgery" A collection of ads from 1960s biker magazines A rapping Christian Pirate Puppet Ads for Real Estate Agents. All the things that suggest a lack of culture in our society actually become culture when theyre put together in collections.
Its quirky at first, but gets more hilarious as you get into the atmosphere. The ads for Real Estate Agents are hilarious. Check out the massive grab bag archives.
The 120 Seconds Film Fest www.120seconds.com
You might want to check this site out, if for no other reason than your tax dollars helped to pay for it. 120 Seconds is a short-short film festival, accepting no entries longer than two minutes. Thats shorter than your average commercial break, yet a lot of these filmmakers, animators and visual artists seem to accomplish a lot.
BitStreams are Flash animations that are thought to represent the best in digital arts today. Often interactive, always colourful, and unlimited in the sense that that they use streaming media to cut loading times.
Hungry For Design www.hungryfordesign.com
Next generation graphic arts, much of it intended for online ad campaigns. The work is supplied by graphic art houses, presumably for the evaluation of graphic art peers.
An illustrator makes excellent use of the new technology to bring his sketches to life. This site includes animations, static drawings, interactive vector-based drawing programs set to music, and other inspirational goodies.
This animated series combines the best in art, Web animation and sound to create an online comic book story that really comes alive. While it starts off slowly, introducing the characters and whatnot, the plot becomes spookier and more sinister as it progresses. The visuals will blow you away.
One common element youll find in most of these Web sites is a heavy reliance on Macromedia Flash to create the graphics and interactivity. Macromedia knows its on to something, and for the past few years has started to collect sites that are using Flash technology in new and interesting ways. While many of these sites are commercial in nature, they do seek out artists, animators and other creative types in their daily and weekly features.