the artist and the internet
barbara london A virtual artist?
What would an artist be like in virtual reality? For an artist, the creation of a virtual artist is a contemporary form of self-portraiture. The artist who gazes into a mirror and puts paint on canvas aims to capture much more than a self-likeness. Similarly, an artist working in virtual reality both discovers and creates the links between subject and image. In fashioning a virtual artist, the artist presents an exploration of his or her artistic self, a process akin to making a series of self-portraits in the studio, posing with palette and brush.


Virtual reality and other computer-based technologies are flooding the art world. Ideas that a few years ago could only be mere speculations are now integrated into art and popular culture. When Jeffrey Shaw patched together "Legible City". in 1988, the virtual buildings the viewer bicycled past appeared only as text on the projection screens. Today, artists at Carnegie Mellon have created a meticulously realistic bicycle ride, which kids will use to learn bicycle safety rules. The degree of sophistication in the technology is not a measure of artistic inventiveness; nontheless, the exponential improvements in computer technology are transforming the art world. People love their computers, and young artists, especially those still in school, are impassioned about computer-based art.

"Technology in the 1990s" is a gratified beneficiary of the rising tide of art and technology. When the series began in 1992, some of the presenters were commercial artists who talked about the promise of new technologies. Nowadays, in digging and sifting and panning for presenters who are on the cutting edge of technology, it is possible to find many artists with impressive track records. This year, all the artists in the series have a body of work that stretches over several years--you can see what you get.