Internet Motion Picture

For quite a few years now I have been very happy that the Internet exists, partially because I travel a lot. I was very pleased to sit down in Japan one morning with a good strong cup of tea and read that day's Hungarian news on the monitor. I was probably a regular reader of the Internetto magazine as well. But I've also read William Blake poems on the net late at night sitting in a German studio. If I have to look into some new software or machines I turn exclusively to the Internet. So the net is a great thing. Of course reading text on a monitor is not the same as holding a beautifully printed book in your hand. The above examples also show what a lonesome thing the Internet is. (Though I suppose I don't usually read books among crowds of people either.) But generally speaking it's a good thing, a practical source of information; you can find a lot of stupid things on it, but there are plenty of intelligent items too: you have to select. This aspect seems to mirror the "real" world.

And there's a little art to be found on it too.

I'm not talking about the reproductions of artifacts or texts dealing with artists/artworks, but rather works that were designed expressly for Internet. The Internet is their medium. I've been working on things like this recently.

This isn't a big thing. It's nothing to boast about, because artists have been making works like this for years, so I can't consider myself a pioneer or a revolutionary. Not to mention the fact that it cannot be presented as some kind of high and lofty form of art.

So why didn't I start making art for the net earlier? Probably because any kind of technology only inspires me if it reaches a certain level of visual complexity. Obviously, in my work I am directed not by conceptual but by sensory considerations. Twenty years ago I took part in the development of several types of video games on ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 computers, but it never occurred to me even for a moment that I could use these machines to produce my own works. Then I was given an ATARI 520 and everything changed. This is also what happened to me recently. I've been using and enjoying the net for years, but I never thought of creating anything for this technology. Then things changed.

I taught for four years at a college, and of course I have about as much to thank my students for as they have to thank me. One thing they taught me was that the Internet is something as real as books, films, or anything else. Among university surroundings, where one doesn't have to live in terror of high phone bills, where the downloading speed it very fast, where the computers are in 24 standby mode, this whole global communication technology thing becomes completely normal and practical. Boys and girls exchanged films, music, and animation they found on the net, discussed things they saw and heard, sent each other sites they deemed more interesting than others, and in addition to all this they went out for beer, read books, and made love just like all other college students. I got the feeling that, for them, the Internet was a living environment, while the world of galleries, for example (this might only be my opinion of course), was dead (except for the receptions following the opening speeches).

We might debate here whether they have become stupider as a result of computer culture, but I'd rather skip this topic. There are a lot of wise things to be heard during such arguments, especially from the side of the people representing the anti-computer camp, but I always get bogged down with the simple problem of why someone thinks that one kind of technology, which was invented in the past and is familiar to us, is better and more user-friendly than another type of new and unfamiliar technology. I'm prepared to agree with anyone who curses the direction of development and states that humanity is rushing towards its own doom, if that person is ready to acknowledge that this rush has been going on ever since we became human, and every horrible new invention and discovery is based on one in the past. It's very amusing to see a filmmaker deride computer technology in the name of old values. Booklovers have an easier time, but I wouldn't mind listening to a medieval codex copier's opinion of Guttenberg.

I would like to call attention to the fact that there are no such things as "natural" and "unnatural" works of art. A Greek vase, a Renaissance fresco, a Shakespeare sonnet, or a work of art made on computer are all equally undecipherable for, let's say, an ant. Mona Lisa's smile can only be found interesting by a human-sized, human-shaped, and human-minded being. Therefore, if I think of something interesting, and I'm able to express that interesting thought, and that interesting thought is interesting for other people too, then it exists. It exists while humans also exist to comprehend it. In other words - returning to the original topic of the article - if someone puts something up on the net and another person happens upon it and looks at it and says to himself, "well, what an interesting thought!" and thinks about it for a little while then, or later, if it pops into his head before falling asleep, then that thing is, it exists, completely independent of the fact that, for instance, it doesn't weigh 16 tons and isn't cast in bronze.

Technical innovation had a lot to do with the fact that this form of art interests me at the moment. The latest Flash and Shockwave formats have made it possible for motion picture and even 3-D motion pictures to appear on the net, and this is very important to me. To me this technology is significant because at the start of my career this same technology - vectorial graphics - awakened the notion in me that it is actually possible to create works of art with the computer. In those days it was the computer that was slow; now the Internet is. In both instances vectorial mapping has helped me surpass the limits of hardware. So why am I writing about all this in Pergo Kpek (Reeling Pictures)? Because those things up there on the net are also motion pictures. At least that's what I've been thinking for a time now: whatever moves (reels) and is a picture is a motion picture. I's that simple. In my humble opinion it makes blessed little difference whether the artist used a video camera, a Super8, a 16mm or 35mm camera, or a Pentium II computer.

Tamás Walicky, Budapest, June 13, 2002

Translation: Zsuzsa Nagy