Utility Repurposed – by “Heather R”

The Internet is so useful at disseminating art, it is sometimes overlooked as a medium in and of itself.  There are artists that work exclusively online, but there are many more artists that use websites simply to display their projects.  This is an issue that presents itself whenever a medium originates as a technology for mass communication.

Long before printmaking was embraced as an artistic medium it was used to reproduce paintings, images of architecture, and distribute text-based information.  Printmaking was developed as a method of cheaply mass producing and distributing information.  Only when it became technologically obsolete was it fully embraced by fine art, but it has since thrived in that context.

It’s hard to imagine a point in time when the Internet will be obsolete, but it may come someday.  If the Internet ceased to be the most efficient way to transfer information, it might evolve to serve other less utilitarian purposes.

For my project I created a website that functions like a print.  Just as nobody needs the plate used to create a print, nobody needs the actual image file.  They just need a link to it.  The Internet is obviously superior technology because it can create infinite copies, but it’s roughly analogous.

The print on my website is about net neutrality, which came to mind when I was thinking about how and when the Internet could ever become obsolete.  A loss of net neutrality might not make the Internet obsolete, but it would certain reduce its utility.  Maybe if the damage was great enough the Internet would join printmaking as a novel but irrelevant technology.


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