Idea Line

Screenshot of Martin Wattenberg’s Idea Line, launched Fall 2001

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 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.

According to Martin Wattenberg: "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 designed to let you follow these threads of thought yourself, and discover how each work is part of a larger tapestry."

To create the list of artworks, Wattenberg sent out a public request for help to several net art forums. Almost one hundred artists responded. In addition, data was entered on many popular or influential artworks that were not covered in this response. A text-only list of the artworks is available.

About the artist

Plus Minus

Martin Wattenberg is a digital artist and computer scientist. His work focuses on visual investigations of data masses: communities, conversations, and other conceptual collections. His projects range from artistic explorations such as Fleshmap (with Fernanda Viegas, 2008) and Apartment (with Marek Walczak, 2001), to tools for democratizing data visualization (Many Eyes, 2007, with Fernanda Viegas et al.) Wattenberg holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley (1996).