Expanding Space

In an ongoing endeavor to develop, understand, and communicate "art," our definitions are constantly morphing. At the speed that we identify and recognize, we deny and re-create, each time pushing the walls of the "white box" to a point of distension.

Since the advent of modernity -- when artists decided they were not simply satisfied to copy painting styles and liberated themselves from the unions of craftsmen -- technological advances, sociopolitical barometers, and economic circumstances have played an inseparable role in both the development of the artist and how art is seen and understood. For these reasons it is easy to see how a tool such as the Internet is another transforming event, opening up the art world to more collaborative projects, interdisciplinary ventures, and real-time artist cooperatives.

These surfers come together armed with a certain understanding of various technologies from all fields of study and share findings or failures -- art for art's sake. Add to that no-lag interactive long-distance communication, and a certain online leveling where gender, race, and orientation are no longer as important as cyber-knowledge, and the possibilities are exponential.

Now open for your perusal and participation are Websites such as that showcase Net art; this site commissions artists interested in exploring greater uses for existing applications and developing new ones to originate innovative work. It has commissioned over 60 works since its inception in 1996 and hosted 20 multilocation performance events.

Also worth checking out are the creators of Wirefire, Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn, cyber-performance artists who perform in real-time every Thursday night at 6:00 (at They use new technology that combines chat, sounds, images, animations, and live camera streams to form interactive, improvisational performances. Wirefire sniffs out the viewers' computer connections and incorporates them into the imagery, prompting them to actively participate by writing. In essence the viewers are collaborating in the creation of the piece.

Sound art/experimental music has boomed with the advent of MP3 technology. The Tapegerm Collective has been around since May 2000 and is one of many sound circles, or looping groups, that create and share sound manipulations online. These artists refer to their work in the collective as the evolution of an organism. Long gone are the days of chain-letter-style mailings of master tapes from one artist to the next. At one can hear other artists' work, download loops, and mix and/or create and upload your own. Your sound mixes will be featured on and assembled on various compilation CDs.

Then there are the people who do strange things with electricity at, an organization for sound/ image/movement/whatever, with designers, engineers, students, and other interested parties who are involved in the creation of electronic art (in the broadest sense of the term), including dorkbot Douglas Irving Repetto. One of his more intriguing works, called crash and bloom (—douglas/portfolio/index.html), is a sound and light sculpture that emulates a biological system. He has created light/sound boxes that are networked to receive 'ping' inputs (l and 0) and to send ping outputs. As the ping enters the box it lights up and beeps. The duration of the beeps/light depend on the ping pileup at that particular box. A lot of pings backed up, a lot of short beeping sounds; too many backed-up pings and the system inverts, putting out a long beep. And as in any physical and biological system, one dead-end ping and extinctions can occur.

At, literary cyber-art meets with tradition as you e-flip through a pillow-book-sized publication of multilanguage stories, poetry, interviews, and imagery.

Other artists are taking light sculpture to public spaces and involving the communities in the project ( On Saturday, June 15, an international light action took place in locations from Europe to Africa to North America. Made up of associations, artists, and mere inhabitants, this group calls for people to direct a light source -- flashlights, projectors, Chinese shadow, whatever -- or sculpture directly onto any possible surface.

A rather good starting point to find collaboratives is at This site provides links to "independent, alternative, anti/non-commercial groups and spaces globally," as do the links on many of the above-listed Websites.

Almost all of the cyber-stops mentioned are examples of the communal and empowering possibilities available to creative types in any field. Similarly most are artist-run nonprofits that thrive on collaborative associations and interdisciplinary approaches to art and technology. So go ahead, create and collaborate. And once you get out there and find your own cool spaces, let me know what they are at [email protected].

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Vivian Marthell

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