This interview was completed in the fall 2000 for the online+print exhibition ON OFF at afsnitp.dk and in the printed magazine Hvedekorn, both based in Copenhagen, Denmark (http://www.afsnitp.dk/onoff/).
Issues touched upon are: the role of programming in creation and appreciation of net art, the market value of net art, the (art) history of programming, the (non)physicality of the net, and the formal and political dimensions of net art.
AB: I would like to begin by asking your view about net art in relation to painting, first of all because I know you used to be a painter as well as a computer programmer, secondly because you often speak of a certain painterl y dimension in your net art projects.
MN: Art works best when it is interesting both conceptually and visually. The Shredder is a good example of a project that has both a conceptual and visual dimension. I spent a lot of time tweaking the aesthetics of the layers of output text and graphics. I wanted the shredded page to be variable, somewhat random, but still have a structure that would create a visual balance and flow.
I enjoy the visual quality of graphics on the computer screen, the luminosity of colors, the hard edges and the atmospheric blurs that come ou t of distorted and pixelated computer graphics. There’s a painterly side to the medium that I want to explore further.
The web interface has capabilities that go beyond painting though. In net art the artwork can move. It can change and evolve over time, which creates a whole other dimension to this art form that just doesn’t exist in painting. In Pulse I spent a lot of time looking at how colors can evolve over time, how the mood and character of a series of colors can change and take on new qualities. That piece sets up certain color qualities, color areas that pulse at different rates. Once the visitor interacts with the piece they activate the color areas and the rest cannot be predicted exactly. I created a potential for color relationships, but the visitor actually triggers when and how the colors will unfold. I don’t control the final outcome of the piece.
And that’s the fun of software: it can create results that I didn’t plan on.