The Rise and Fall of Internet Art Communities
Art in the wild, early internet
The rise of platforms
Unlike the quantifiable interactions such as “likes” and “reactions” that pass for interactivity in 2019, there was genuine engagement on DeviantArt.
The internet presented a breadth of opportunity for all kinds of artists—often of marginalized identities or with artistic interests unrecognized by institutions.
The era of big tech
As the internet moved toward homogeneity and passivity, once-vibrant art communities became casualties in social media’s rapid, obliterative rise.
Art takes on a different tone when it’s surrounded by dog GIFs, political memes, and your cousin’s baby photos.
Timeline Images: Installation view of The Thing at “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star,” 2013. Courtesy of the New Museum; Picture of Les Horribles Cernettes, 1992. Image via Wikimedia Commons; GeoCities on October 22, 1999. Screenshot, 2019, via The Wayback Machine; Rhizome.com on February 24, 1997. Screenshot, 2019, Internet Explorer 4.01 via oldweb.today. Courtesy of the New Museum; DeviantArt on August 17, 2000 via The Wayback Machine. Screenshot, 2019. Used with permission from DeviantArt; Tom Anderson’s MySpace profile on March 29, 2006. Screenshot, 2019; Message posted at an online college community called ‘thefacebook.com,’ 2004. Photo by Juana Arias/The Washington Post/Getty Images; Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up the new iPhone that was introduced at Macworld on January 9, 2007 in San Francisco, California. Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images; A picture taken on April 10, 2012 shows the smartphone photo sharing application Instagram on an iphone next to the Facebook application, one day after Facebook announced a billion-dollar-deal to buy the startup behind Instagram. Photo by Thomas COEX/AFP/Getty Images; Meme from imgflip.com in reaction to new Tumblr policies, 2018.