Artists have been playing with the Web for as long as there’s been one to play with. (For the record, that’s slightly less than three years.) The whole idea behind the Web-browsing revolution, after all, was that eye-catching colors, friendly graphics, and a certain amount of motion would bring a lot more people online. They have. watching live feeds from cameras positioned in all sorts of strange places, including a satellite in outer space, a microscope, and the producer’s own office.
But the ideas behind computer art are not new. The work of art has been dissolving into reproducible signals for more than a quarter-century now. Video art had its heyday in the 1970s. CD-ROM art, which is basically computer art on a disc, is about a decade old. There are a few things Web art can do that other kinds of art can’t, however. It can enter the homes of people who might otherwise never have sought it out (or bought the CD-ROM that contained it). It can host any number of people logging on from any number of places at exactly the same time. It can change–you can change it–and it can stay changed, a lasting if not indelible record that you were there.
SLATE Gallery is meant to be a place where artists try things out and people respond to them. Jenny Holzer is our first artist. One of the world’s better-known conceptual artists, she’s been testing out different media ever since she put her oddball “Truisms” into bus stops in the 1970s. SLATE Gallery will host a new artist more or less every two weeks. At first, we won’t be able to show you every unusual feature Web artists have at their disposal. But we’ll be getting better at this as we go along, and whatever we can’t do ourselves, we can link you to. (For example, you can jump from this page to a piece Holzer did earlier this year, in which people got to create and post their very own Jenny Holzer truisms.) Along with the artwork, we’ll be posting articles or essays about the artist or about the ideas behind the art. We hope you find it interesting, or better yet, fun.