Josephine Bosma – Nettitudes, Let’s Talk Net Art

Josephine Bosma

Institute of Network Cultures/NAi Publishers, ISBN: 978-9056628000, 272 pages, English, 2011
Who needs another book on net art? After reading this book one is forced to answer: me! In fact, different from almost all the other books on this topic (some of which are reviewed here), this is the first one written by someone who has closely followed the movement since the beginning.
Josephine Bosma’s privileged perspective is that of an insider journalist and critic, who has patiently collected documents, notes and facts over the last fifteen years. This book comes when some early has already gone (offline or definitively gone), as Florian Cramer notes in his informed introduction, but the way it addresses “issues of cultural relevance” is still very significant. Nettitudes (a name suggestive of the Nettime mailing list) is not a classic textbook (there are no timelines in graphic form, or rigid categorizations in genres) but a discursive work, reporting hard-to-reconstruct internal dynamics, often unheard quotes from artists and providing context to crucial events and actions. The original net art challenge to the art world as an avant garde (a purely digital and networked format, often collaborative and requiring technical background) emerged with dispersed epicenters (including Eastern Europe and Latin America, for example) and a strict relationship to past and present internet culture. Inevitably there’s something missed out and sometimes it’s maybe too Dutch-centric, but if there’s one book that truly talks about net art history and is worth reading, it’s this one.