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The 12hr-ISBN-JPEG Project

This notion of creating another reality is undeniable in "Ruins for the Future" as artists are unknowingly attributed to creating artworks that Mertens himself produced with the help of Photoshop and distributed for viewing on the World Wide Web. Mertens replied in an email-based interview that art has always been an altered reproduction of reality, whether the work is a painting, a movie, a photograph, or even a documentary. The Internet creates this same opportunity to develop a virtual world without the physical limitations whereby the creator can assume the identity of someone else and present him/herself as such on the web. This was the starting point for the project, as Mertens took on the role of artist, curator, promoter, audience, and sponsor and to use the Internet as a new public space.

As a net-art project, I communicated appropriately with Mertens via email in depth about "Ruins for the Future" and its relation to the advancement of Internet technology and net art as a growing art form. There are certain barriers present between a user's understanding of net art and the technology required to create such a project and Mertens commented, "Technology has made net art possible, but [software applications such as] Flash and Dreamweaver have heavily influenced net art." But this technological barrier does not affect Mertens in his work; he admittedly does not know a lot about Internet technology but overcomes this barrier by seeking help from professionals in the creation of the actual site. He does not find this an influencing or uncomfortable situation because his concepts are not compromised or affected at this stage.

In terms of seeking some sort of clear definition or boundary for net art as an art form, Mertens sees three options: (1) the use of the Internet to present and promote the artist as Mertens did on his website but this itself is not art, merely a promotional tool; (2) the use of the Internet as a canvas for computer art through interactive Flash and Dreamweaver; and (3) the Internet context as an environment to create new art thus it becomes the context to reflect on art as well as one the Internet itself. The latter is where Mertens likes to situate himself and considered it the most interesting way to create messages and art. Mertens views net art as building on a long history of art; as painting influenced photography and vice versa, net art is influenced by the histories of past art practices. He states that the "big challenge is how to use this new and exciting environment." To Mertens, net art is an integral part of art history, forming its own art movement but building on the past, especially conceptual art. He refers to his own work in this area as "contextual art." Unlike prior artists, Mertens could embrace the roles of artist, curator, promoter, and audience thus challenging these roles as well as representing a new step in technological art advancement and representation.

"Ruins for the Future" is a net art project that address the past and future of a geographical region in Peru as well as issues surrounding technology, the emergence of a non-physical space, and the presentation of altered realities. As an artist who constantly strives to bridge the gap between art and society, Mertens is able to know each situation where he feels motivation to develop the project. From this personal involvement, he creates and presents images in the area that he has explored. He uses materials, objects, and symbols that have relevance in this context, referring to his work as 'contextual art." In this, he has ensured his art takes root in society and contributes to the public space.

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Site: http://www.pierremertens.com