Earlier this week, NPR’s All Tech Considered did a story (“If The Internet Is Your Canvas, You Paint In Zeros And Ones,” November 3, 2013) on an art collector’s recent purchase of an art work at auction from Phillips auction house. The hook of the story was that the art work isn’t a physical object that can be taken home and hung on the wall. Rather, it’s an intangible digital work, a web site ( ifnoyes.com ) that the artist who created the work stipulated must (though privately-owned) be kept freely accessible to the public.
The artist, Rafaël Rozendaal, described its status this way: “My work is public by nature. I want to keep it that way,” and he goes on to make the point that “It’s the virtual equivalent of owning a sculpture in a public park. There’s a point of pride (for collectors) of being the one who commissioned or paid for it.”
There’s a term that’s been used for many years to describe public art such as sculptures, murals, mosaics, landscape design, art designed to be free and accessible to anyone who would care to view it: site specific art. Now Digital Art is site specific, too.
With Rozendaal’s work, we circle back and arrive again at the word we’ve used all along for locations on the Internet. “Site.”