In June, 1999 we entered the digital age with the launch of www.onedgeonline, our permanent presence on the world wide web. This site featured current activities and a 1985-1999 retrospective of over fifty projects presented with photos, text, graphics and videoclips.
We celebrated the YEAR 2000 with the “CyberArtSite”, a project proclaiming the Internet as the first major new art form of the 21st century. To that end, we commissioned leading artists to create original works. CyberArtSite was part experimental laboratory, online gallery, electronic workshop, magazine, concert hall, arcade and television network. The project was an opportunity to encourage artistic exploration of the digital frontier within a professional and critical framework.
The objective was to create an online audience through the presentation of innovative work, and to be key players in the rapid evolution of this phenomenal form with access to millions of users. Each day tens of thousands of new subscribers get connected. Like most people, they have been attracted by the hype of ‘the potential’. In reality, most in search of groundbreaking new experiences end up frustrated by the lack of unique, genuine quality sites. The majority of sites are commercially driven. There is no such thing as free information. There is a vacuum. There is a need for creating a strong nonprofit art and cultural space, a site that could offer alternative, quality programs for experiencing art.
The audiences and the technological form are in an infant stage of development, thankfully neither parties are that critical or demanding. In fact this is unique period of people waiting and being open to ‘whatever’.
By commissioning artists to create original works for this medium, we attempted to validate the Internet as a legitimate form of art. We were also claiming the Internet as a public art space and recognizing that Internet audiences are considered valued. Viewers go to sites by choice. Due to economics, users are mainly paying subscribers. The demographics show that most online users are highly educated, young and upwardly mobile.
Today’s youth are the digital generation. They will grow up knowing nothing else before there was the Internet. This is their primary resource for information, news, research, mail, shopping, and entertainment. It will also be their direct avenue to art. With or without our presence, they will be using the Internet. We recognize the importance of having as equal as possible a presence and having access to audiences on the world wide web.
With the generous support of the Canada Council Millennium Arts Fund, we had the resources to commission artists. Artists were selected from a mixed process: direct invitation and chosen from open submission. No previous digital experience was required. Artists from all disciplines, diverse perspectives and experiences were considered. We provided the professional support of a curator, a multimedia artist and a webmaster to assist in the development, production and presentation of the art works. Each project was presented on our site and published as a cd-rom.
The online community is anyone, anywhere at anytime. The conventional concept of geographic/political and cultural borders has been ruptured. This was new art for a cross-cultural + multimedia age. The site was planned in stages, specific programs were launched to reach the ‘different ‘home’ audiences: youth, baby boomers and mature adult. Our focus was on the nonprofit sector and to develop the Internet as a community resource for regional, national and international users.
The project started in the fall of 1999 and went online in 2000.