A Net Art Idea Line
mapping lines of thought through time

From the beginning, net art has travelled multiple paths. More than a medium, the net is a environment uniquely hospitable to many diverse media: programming and animation, video and audio, gameplay and community. Each individual artist picks up these threads and weaves them in novel combinations. The Idea Line is designed to let you follow these threads of thought yourself, and discover how each work is part of a larger tapestry.

--Martin Wattenberg

Launch Idea Line (39K; java required)


The Idea Line displays a timeline of net artworks, arranged in a fan of luminous threads. Each thread corresponds to a particular kind of artwork or type of technology. The brightness of each thread varies with the number of artworks that it contains in each year, so you can watch the ebb and flow of different lines of thought over time.

As you move your mouse over the lines, they will open up to reveal titles of artworks. Place the mouse on top of a title to learn more about the work. Click to launch the work itself. Right-click (shift-click on a Mac) to highlight other pieces by the same artist.

If you are looking for a particular title or artist, type into the text box at the upper left. You'll be able to see your search results in the context of the overall idealine.

Questions about the Idea Line collection

How was the list of artworks made?
We sent out a public request for help to several net art forums. Almost one hundred artists responded. In addition, we entered data on many popular or influential artworks that were not covered in this response. A text-only list of the artworks (146K) is available.

Can I get on the Idea Line?
Yes. Our net art database is publicly accessible. Read these instructions to learn how to enter information about your work. You can also add important works by other artists that we may have overlooked. (Note that we currently limit each artist to five works total.) We will periodically update the idealine to use new information from the database.

How do I update my information?
If you want to update information about your artwork, let us know at idealine@whitney.org. For practical security reasons, we currently do not let the general public change information once it is in the database.

Context for this work: net art catalogs and maps

Rhizome Artbase extensive, detailed, up to date.
A timeline of net art by Natalie Bookchin, 1999.
Guggenheim Cyberatlas Many maps, 1998.
map.jodi.org after a network diagram, 1997.

Above all, credit goes to nearly one hundred artists who helped compile the idea line data.

Thanks to: Christiane Paul, Marek Walczak, Laura Wattenberg