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.
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.