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
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.
Net.tv is available to download for Mac OSX 10.2+, Mac OS 8/9 and
Windows 98 / Millennium Edition / NT 4.0 / 2000, or XP from the artists