Net.tv is a cross between a browser and a streaming media player designed to view the internet as it really is, code or more specifically markup, not a series of web pages designed under a print metaphor. It makes no attempt to interpret the code into an organised layout as do conventional browsers, instead it displays the code as an audio-visual stream of indeterminate length.
Why reduce the internet to an audio-visual stream? Simply to provoke thought around our use and consumption of different media, linear push media such as television and non-linear interactive pull media such as websites, which have been converging for sometime now. Net.tv's purpose is to highlight the way we as users continually construct self made narratives when we use the internet through choices based on an interact / react model. It does this by removing our ability to chose and act on those choices. Users enter a chosen url, click go and from there on the experience of 'surfing' is automated and dictated by a preprogrammed rule:
- retrieve webpage url entered.
- Visualise webpage as an audio-visual stream.
- Spider to first webpage url available on current webpage url.
- Repeat while new url available.
When we use a browser to surf the internet what we view and how we view it is controlled by the browser. It functions as a framing mechanism and for net.art this can be considered a problem or challenge depending on your point of view. The creation of a browser as a work of net.art allows an artist to not alone create an artwork but control how and under what conditions it will be viewed.
"After the first experiments with web sites, the browser rapidly became the unavoidable framework for Net art [sic] in the eyes of the artists. Webstalker, created by the London-based art group I/O/D and introduced in the first part of net.art, was the first 'art browser' to call into question the conventions of representation on the internet on a much more fundamental level than any work on the web was able to. After Webstalker, a whole series of art browsers appeared...they show precisely what 'normaly' browsers try to hide. Instead of Web sites with pretty designs, one sees what lies beneth the surface: the code the pages have been written in and the structure of the Web sites appearing on the screen as complex diagrams which most definitely have their own aesthetic appeal."
(Baumgärtel, T. 2001)
By denying the user any possibility of interaction with or control over browsing content when using net.tv, the possibility to surf the internet, the user is in fact denied the status of user and becomes simply a spectator of a broadcast medium much like television. Web pages, net.art works themselves (including the artists own) become input, the equivalent of a signal for the browser, suppling a constant feed of content which controls the browser and the path it takes through the internet. Linking from page to page or site to site is no longer a controlled or chosen decision by the user. Instead the application decides constantly spiraling off onto new pages as soon as it finds a link.
Unlike most browsers which exist and are defined by the content they depict, their message, the internet as viewed / interpreted through net.tv is no longer a source of information. It is a browser which is viewed solely for its aesthetic form, an abstracted composition of sounds and images.
FEED, Shredder, RIOT
The Web Stalker
Netomat (the original art work)
Tom Corby & Gavin Bailey
Johanna Höysniemi, Jokko Korhonen
Andi Freeman & Jason Skeet