Clashing and converging: effects of the Internet on the correspondence art network
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This study examines the effects of the Internet on an international community of artists who have exchanged art through postal systems for 40 years. The methods of grounded theory are employed to collect and analyze three types of data. The sources of data are: literature collected from Internet communities where the artists converse and publish artworks, interviews with artists who have experience in both electronic and traditional network environments, and artworks made by artists to express their visual and poetic responses to the Internet. The collected data reveal three clusters of artists' concerns: social, artistic, and related to art history. With global electronic networks contributing toward technological change and aesthetic shifts in their art, artists express concerns about shifting structures in their social networks, as well as threats to their traditions and to the relics of their own history. Artists identify complex interrelationships and strategies that emerged during the 40-year history of the Correspondence Art Network that are in jeopardy of being replaced by new technologies and new forms of networking. The conclusions suggest future research in the fields of aesthetics, women artists, the archives of the correspondence art movement, and emerging networked art. Continued research into creative networked systems may help to protect the correspondence art archives, increase our understanding of a long-lived art movement, and highlight strategies for successful implementation of distributed communities across disciplines.