As Frog design Creative Director Adam Richardson noted in an influential talk he gave at the most recent Next Web Conference, the Internet until recently has been like the railroad, which has forced us to adapt to its rules. In the coming years, it will be more like cars, which adapt to us. In other words, the digital is getting physical … so, how does art fit in?
The most striking aspect of social media art is that it contains facets of net.art, by being digital; visual art, by existing on a two-dimensional surface; public art, by existing in spaces used habitually by hundreds of millions of people; and performance art, by being inherently social. Whether the aggregate is greater than its sum remains to be seen …
Some time in 2004, I logged onto Facebook for the very first time. My alma mater was one of the few allowed coveted access to the Harvard-originated social network. I filled out a profile, uploaded a picture and began adding friends. A coast away, Tim O’Reilly coined the term “Web 2.0” … Computers and the Internet, after decades of association with nerds and misfits, were on the brink of mainstream cool.
Just as social media have quickly gone mainstream, we’re starting to see social media art received more attention from the mainstream art world. I’m currently writing a survey of social media art’s (brief!) history for Hyperallergic and as part of my research, I’ve invited a number of contemporary social media artists to a roundtable discussion on Hyperallergic’s Facebook page.