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Neen: The art of our time

Ten years ago, artist struggled to find a term for his artwork and the work of his contemporaries. He wanted…

By Yvonne Robertson , in Thinking Outside the Gallery: Alternative art in Vancouver , on March 22, 2010 Tags: , , ,

Ten years ago, artist struggled to find a term for his artwork and the work of his contemporaries. He wanted this term to describe the art of the new media, those who used computer screens, digital production and the Internet. Unable to come up with a word, he hired Lexicon Branding to do the heavy lifting.

In May of 2000, at a press conference at the Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan, Manetas announced the creation of the first art movement of the 21st century – only a mere five months into it. The movement was titled . Shortly afterwards, he published the .

Jacksonpollock.org is one of Manetos' more popular pieces. Click on the image to create a Pollock piece.

Doesn’t this process of coining an art movement usually occur in hindsight, once it’s had time to evolve? Or is this the result of today’s fast-paced, manufactured culture?

This creates animated artwork that interacts with the public through the click of a mouse. The Neen artists, also known as Neenstars, design websites exclusively for their artworks. Each URL becomes the title of a different piece. You can spend hours on these addictively entertaining websites. As the manifesto states, “Neen is about losing time on different operating systems.”

Manetas had clear views of what the movement would entail when writing the manifesto. Not to be confused with , Neen art favours the unpredictable and spontaneous. It is usually absurd and must not have a purpose. In an , Manetas states that only a few people are 100% Neen. For a Neenstar cannot have another job.

Maninthedark.com is by Aaron Clinger and Manetos. Click on the image to interact with it.

According to the manifesto, Neen art is not about identity, but a state of mind that is subject to change. This enables a Neen artist to use another’s identity if he/she feels like it and vice versa. In the interview, Manetas says he’s against intellectual property, believing that information has a life of its own and should be free from its creators.

Reading the manifesto, there are certainly some interesting ideas. But then again, isn’t this movement supposed to be without purpose?

Many aspects of Neen art appear counter-intuitive and, ten years later, it is still rather small. It appears to be practiced by only a , many of whom have personal ties to Manetas.

Leduchamp.com is by Rafael Rozendaal, the youngest of the Neen artists born in 1980. Click on the image to spin the wheel.

However, as history shows, it is usually these types of under-appreciated-at-the-time artistic movements that are extensively written about years after they are over. So, maybe I’m being too critical. Maybe we are witnessing a great movement of the 21st century. It certainly reflects the spirit of our times. After the advent of online art galleries and selling work on the Internet, creating work using the Internet seems to be the next logical step.