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PRINT May 2000

WEB WORK: A HISTORY OF INTERNET ART

The term “net.art” is less a coinage than an accident, the result of a software glitch that occurred in December 1995, when Slovenian artist Vuk Cosic opened an anonymous e-mail only to find it had been mangled in transmission. Amid a morass of alphanumeric gibberish, Cosic could make out just one legible term—“net.art”—which he began using to talk about online art and communications. Spreading like a virus among certain interconnected Internet communities, the term was quickly enlisted to describe a variety of everyday activities. Net.art stood for communications and graphics, e-mail, texts and images, referring to and merging into one another; it was artists, enthusiasts, and technoculture critics trading ideas, sustaining one another’s interest through ongoing dialogue. Net.art meant online détournements, discourse instead of singular texts or images, defined more by links, e-mails,

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