Web documents reside on Web servers; they contain hyperlinks to other, related documents, such as photographs, digitized videos, sounds, authors' biographies, and data sets. They may also contain links to relevant documents residing on other servers; both local and remote links can be selected or clicked on with a mouse and the linked document will be retrieved and displayed on the screen.
A recent report by Los Angeles Times staffers indicates that in there were only about requests per month for registration of Internet domain names, the corporate address in cyberspace. Fueled by the popularity of the Web, domain name requests grew to 2, per month by October of and were expected to reach 20, per month before the end of Los Angeles Times, These pages typically feature a logo, a brief description of the kinds of materials that can be accessed, and a set of clickable icons or highlighted phrases which can be used to retrieve files or connect to another server with related materials.
There are numerous museums and art galleries on the Web with original artworks on display Gaffin, ; both traditional and electronic media are represented. Moving images are digitized and compressed as mpeg or mov format files. The gallery or museum may also contain biographies of the artists and hyperlinks to other galleries and art resources on the Web.
Representative works are presented in Figures 1 a , b , c , and d. The Royal College of Art in London has recently sponsored an exhibit of art solicited and acquired over the net, mounting the exhibit simultaneously at the college and online. Although this single, bottomless, hypertextual image archive is not yet a reality, the Web boasts an abundance of picture galleries whose objects are freely available for the personal use of the viewer.
New sites for viewing images appear on the Web daily. There is considerable variation among online image sites with respect to exhibition practice. Broadly speaking, however, one can distinguish between galleries and exhibits, on the one hand, and mere archives, on the other.
The former have about them a sense of curatorial presence, selectivity, and mission: the works on display have been assembled within a context, which might be the technology used to create them, or the national origin of the artists. There is at least an implicit notion of the audience to whom the display is addressed, often accompanied by overt efforts to solicit audience response. Mere archives, on the other hand, most of them uncataloged collections of unattributed images, are characterized by little or no sense of mission.
The curatorial sensibility, if in evidence, tends to be underdeveloped.
Many exhibiting artists are relatively unknown, and many are amateurs. As of this writing these exhibition spaces tend to be about equally divided between those that display the works of several artists, and those that show works by a single artist. The backgrounds of these gatekeepers vary considerably. Web art sites also vary with respect to the presence or absence of commercial interests.
At the time the project reported here began, about one in four galleries on the WWW offered works of art for sale. Today nearly one of every two new art sites coming online could be classified as commercial. One may also find cheap reproductions and clip art marketed to commercial artists. Although the commercial galleries began to appear on the Web somewhat late relative to the others, available evidence indicates that they have been quick to capitalize on the interactive features of the network in order to facilitate the conduct of business.
A preliminary review of the features of Web art sites, the details of which are provided below, indicated that variation among galleries and exhibits occurs with respect to three primary dimensions: network embedding, openness , and design concept. Network embedding refers to the extent to which the gallery occupies or makes efforts to occupy a position of centrality within the web of relationships formed by artists, galleries, and audiences. Openness is the extent to which an art site is inclusive, or public; all are invited to contribute to it, and likewise all are encouraged to partake of its offerings.
Design concept refers to the degree to which the artistic and technical aspects of the gallery's design take full advantage of the potential of the medium to please the eye while simultaneously facilitating exchange among artists, their representatives, and their audiences. The presence of commercial interests can be expected to exert an influence on the artistic and technical aspects of site design, particularly in the exploitation of interactive features which allow an art gallery to transact its affairs and keep track of its customers.
That is, commercial galleries ought to have a firmer sense of their offerings and the boundaries of the site in terms of what can be displayed there, and how it may be used or more to the point, may not be used. Commercial sites may have fewer exhibiting artists, on average, as a function of a more narrowly circumscribed mission. The exception would occur in those cases where the art site merely provides classified listings. Whether commercial or not, sites exhibiting the work of multiple artists can be expected to differ from those showing a single artist's work in significant ways, some but not all of which derive simply from an obviously increased resource base.
Similarly, while the probability of having someone on hand who can help with the technical aspects of interactive forms should increase with the number of participants, the page design could be developed as creditably by a single artist working in isolation as it could be by a collaboration of several. Galleries vary not only with respect to design, network embedding, and openness but also in terms of the demographic distribution of their exhibitors. Despite all the bouquets that have been tossed at the Internet for increasing global access to information and opening up new pathways of communication, there has been no evidence to date that the electronic gates have opened any more widely than those in the physical world to admit women and minorities.
Available data from recent studies of women's experiences on the Internet indicate that instances of sexual discrimination and harassment are commonplace Dibble, ; Herring, ; Kramerae, Of interest, then, is the extent to which women artists are represented in online galleries, and how their representation varies as a function of the gallery's size and commercial orientation.
The spring and summer of were early days in the life of the World Wide Web. At that time there were sufficiently few art galleries online that it was almost possible to enumerate them. Galleries were located by keyword searches of various Web search engines including the CUI WWW catalog, the Yahoo index, and NorthStar, and by following hypertextual links from art resource lists compiled by Anima, Fine Art Forum, and other collectives serving the online arts community.
Institutional galleries e.
An effort was made to achieve a representative sampling of sites with respect to such factors as the number of exhibitors and the presence or absence of commercial interests. Sites were classified as commercial if any works on display were explicitly offered for purchase. Eighteen of the galleries were hosted by commercial service providers, one was available on a server running on a personal computer, and eighteen were housed on servers at educational institutions.
Finally, an attempt was made to ensure that a wide range of both electronic and traditional works of art was represented. From each site all text files and most image files were retrieved, and most were saved, in their original format html, gif, jpeg, mpeg, etc for subsequent viewing and analysis.
At the smaller sites, all of the images were saved; at the larger 30 artists or more , a randomly selected image for each exhibiting artist was retrieved and saved. Collaboratively produced artworks were not included in the study because of the inclusion of individual level variables e. Some sites presented consistent problems with respect to retrieval of files, some had sections still under construction, and others had lapses in their indexing which sometimes made it difficult, if not impossible, to determine the name of the artist responsible for a particular work.
In ambiguous cases the rule of thumb was that the home page was that which contained the gallery logo and direct links to the works. Only information that could be accessed directly from the home page, and the documents to which the home page pointed, was included in the data corpus. Thus, for example, data was not included which could only be obtained by bringing up and searching the home page's parent directory. I reviewed the data corpus of texts gallery mission statements, artists' biographies and exhibition records, image captions, hotlists and images and animations logos, fancy buttons and bars, imagemaps, menu bars, artists' portraits, works displayed at the site to generate a preliminary account of gallery characteristics.
This preliminary review led to the development of a list of features which represents the wide range of exhibition practices and possibilities on the Web. The features were grouped into three broad categories, which can be regarded as dimensions or continua of electronic exhibition space along which, separately or conjointly, exhibitors varied.
The first of these three dimensions is network embedding: the extent to which a site is central to, or visible in, the matrix of online relationships among galleries, their viewers, and their contributors. WWW galleries and exhibit spaces may also differ with respect to their openness to visitors and to potential exhibiting artists: the extent to which information about the gallery, its exhibitors, its art objects, and the mechanics of retrieval and viewing are available freely and in a manner friendly to visitors with varying degrees of online literacy.
Openness also refers to the extent to which the gallery allows, encourages, or solicits submissions and offers a variety of means, both traditional and electronic, of submitting works for exhibition.
Openness may be reflected as well in the extent to which the exhibit space embraces the visual arts in all their variety. The following three items were used to operationalize openness:. The design concept is reflected in the use of artwork in logos, fancy bullets, and inline images, and more technically advanced use of artworks in hypertextual features such as fancy buttons, menu bars, and imagemaps.
As newer movements revolutionized art in Europe before and after World War I, Los Angeles consumers continued to prefer an art akin to the booster images in magazine illustrations: Southern California as a domesticated Eden. Museum curators mounted loan exhibitions among the mastodon skeletons of European paintings from the 19th century and earlier. A more engaged and contemporary art only emerged in the s, fostered in part by New Deal cultural projects and partly by the artists who taught at Chouinard, the Art Center, Otis, and UCLA.
Outside a tiny avant-garde, 20th-century art was suspect.
In , conservatives on the county museum board turned down a gift of modern works from the collection of Walter and Louise Arensberg. Vincent Price, Edward G. Robinson, and Fanny Brice founded the Modern Institute of Art to keep the Arensberg collection in Los Angeles, but the institute closed when funding ran out. When James Byrnes, the first curator of modern art at the county museum, sought to buy works by Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko in , he was advised by one of the trustees to keep the paintings off the museum walls.