Omar Kholeif – Internet_Art: From the Birth of the Web to the Rise of NFTs


Phaidon Press, ISBN 978-1838664077, English, 296 pages, 2023, USA

The definition of Internet art was problematic from the very beginning, far beyond the used terminology(Internet, net, web, telematic, online, networked, etc.). The main problem was not the ephemerality of the medium, which was initially seen more as a technology, and the problems associated with an etymologically correct way of exhibiting and preserving it. The main problem was to formulate a relatively short definition that would have encompassed very different artworks, approaches and techniques. Omar Kholeif (also author of Art in the Age of Anxiety and You are Here: Art After the Internet, and who uses the pronouns they/them) has gone to great lengths, through some focused exhibitions and related writings, to provide a definition of their own, articulated here a few times and summarised briefly at one point as “art that is produced with a knowing awareness of the networked nature of our collective culture”. They express a very personal narrative being fluent with many of the works that have been in museum exhibitions. But Kholeif is also a critical voice towards the corporate-driven market (such as NFTs) and instead defends “those who inhabit existing technologies in subversive ways”, such as UbuWeb. The book thus reveals stories and concepts, as a mixture of retrospective travelogue and art history.