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The end of internet art is for it to take a life of its own, and then die.

Punp

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I made an account for Angora specifically to respond to this thread as I felt it was so compelling.

A reintroduction to the internet

The internet is both a blessing and a curse - a place for people to host their art and share it with the world - and a place for normies to steal content and remix it and redistribute it as if they could apply some stolen merit to their new mashup.

There's something of an internet food chain where content will start off as private material among a niche community and will become reposted and recontextualised on other, broader sites, losing its context and stripping its nuance to become mere content which is easily understood, simply consumed and digested by the masses.

The cannibalism of the things you love

What I find most distressing is this want to grab and tear apart existing art and reclaim it and apply ownership to it. For online artists it's often seen in the form of scrubbing out signatures and reposting the content to attain currency or social credit. It's a hunger to devour the original and somehow cannibalise it into their existence and identity. We saw this with NFTs where people came and snatched up online material for profit, and now we're seeing it repeat again with AI art where programmers are making training data scrapes from artstation so those without imagination or talent can type in a general idea for the AI to autocomplete and they can feel like they're artists without any of the effort or invested understanding of the base techniques or material.

While I agree that there's a deep need for folklore which this "online recycling" nicely fills, I think it essentially stems from the following incorrect assumptions:

a) Anything online is public domain and is therefore clipart, created by an anonymous nobody with too much time on their hands (despite these being real artists attempting to carve a living with their skill)
b) A skill is something you are born with, not something you must hone and train. Anyone with a skill is "lucky"
c) If you have not got a skill, stealing someone else's creation is not only fair, but morally correct as a form of distribution
d) Curating and recontextualising content is the same as creating it (see Pintrest)

However

With this initial torrent of bitterness, I must measure it with some sweetness. I can appreciate there is a time and place for collage. There is a skill in spinning a good story and a pleasantness of an evolution of a dialogue which brings people back to the original artwork and keeps it interesting. In a way, it is a discussion on the original piece which keeps it alive in the public eye for longer than its original lifespan. Where would the Mona Lisa be now if it hadn't been stolen?

As mentioned above, it is possible to appreciate original material without engaging in the meta dialogue around it - and sometimes we must make that conscious choice to decide what is and what isn't canon while we wait for the cloud of hungry locusts to pass over.
 
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Overall, I think that it is a general good that art takes a life of its own and is infinitely remixed and rehashed.

Sure most of the remixes and re-contextualizations will end up as net debris, but we have a good chance it will grow into something unique and special that people want to see. Its trite to say it, but all things are derivative of something else. It is also exceptionally subjective as to whether an item is internet debris or a masterwork and the only way to confirm it is via the passage of time. Does an item have staying power? Does it spawn derivative works of its own? Even if its not popular it may still spawn derivative works among a loyal subset of people.

Generally, for an item to enter zeitgeist popular it has to be easily accessible to the normie. So even here we have different levels of popularity depending on the point of view. I'd venture that 90% of internet content is esoteric to the tikTak-facebook-twatters of the net.
 
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