Online Curatorial Project
Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, California
Tijuana Calling is an online curatorial project featuring five newly commissioned online art projects that address issues specific to the borderlands of Tijuana/San Diego, including migration and exchange, flows of capital and labor, surveillance and privacy, translation and cultural hybridity. These art projects will take the form of actions, events, performances and tactical interventions in public online spaces. As an extension of the inSite_05 web site, Tijuana Calling will document and link to these projects, but the projects themselves will happen elsewhere: in multiplayer online games, commerce sites, social network sites, wireless networks, and other online locations that form the virtual public domain of Tijuana/San Diego.
Artists began experimenting with the Internet in the mid-1990s, when the first web browser became available to the public. Net artists, as they quickly came to be called, saw the web not as a way to publish their portfolios online but as a space for art making. The collaborative duo known as MTAA offered perhaps the best definition of net art to date in this remarkably simple animation:
According to this definition, net art is not merely art that can be found online, but art that happens online. In this view, net art is dynamic and process-oriented, more like a happening or a performance than a painting or a sculpture.
In its early days, net art was fueled by a critical engagement with the market forces that drove the rapid transformation of the web from a research tool for academics into a popular medium for communication and commerce. When the boom ended in 2000, net art fell out of favor. It continued to proliferate, but net artists had to work harder to sustain the sense of social relevance and cultural importance that they had once taken for granted.
Although artists continue to work online in ever greater numbers, net art as a movement is now over. But to say that the net is just another medium along with video, painting, installation, etc. would be misleading. The net is both a medium and a platform, a set of tools for art-making and a distribution channel for reaching people. The net can still enable artists to reach a global audience without the assistance of art world institutions. Equally important, it can enable artists to reach audiences that never set foot in a gallery, museum or performance space.
One of my main goals in organizing Tijuana Calling is to support projects that have the potential to reach beyond the art world and into an online equivalent of what has been called the public sphere. If the public sphere is a place where politics happens, then I am looking for projects that transform this sphere, if only temporarily, into a place about which one can say: “The art happens here.”