Kilian Valkhof

Front-end & user experience developer, Jedi.

Welcome the first web art movement!

Web, 14 January 2008, 2 minute read

Everywhere I look, people are bashing the ‘web2.0-look’. They’re bashing it for pretty much every reason possible. I think those people should dive into their art history once more, it would do them good. I’ll help them and you make a jump-start:

Note that I’ve added ‘-look’ to the end of web2.0, this article is about the design part of ‘web 2.0’

Yesterday I saw a BBC documentary on the history of rock. One piece that stood out was this bit: an old man interviewing the original lead singer of Pink Floyd. He asked him “why do you play so loud? I really dislike it, I grew up on string quartets and this is something completely different” to which Syd (presumably drugged) answers with “We like it that way”.

We like it that way.

The end of the 60’s, rock music in all it’s extravaganza was emerging and all the critics hated it. Because of the new sound, but also because rock was carried in on the back of a radical new art movement: Pop art.

Pop art. What does that word do with you? Presumably not much, it’s a pretty common term. Now how about “web 2.0”? does it make you cringe, shudder or feel annoyed? Welcome back to the 60’s, baby! That’s how all the then-contemporary artists reacted to this new, blasphemous movement. They absolutely hated it. Cheap crap with no soul that was copied over and over, and over and over and then some more.

Are you starting to see where I’m getting at yet?

History tells us of quite a lot of art movements, pop art is just one of them that I chose as example. How did you think people reacted to surrealism, dadaism or minimalism? Art movements always have a period of scrutiny, but a couple of years later even the biggest critic calls it art.

Show that we’ve learned from history. Just like our current web2.0 art movement, pop art generated a lot of crap. Does that mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater? Pop art was synonym with fake for a long time. However: Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Richard Hamilton, and I could name quite a few more. I doubt you would find anyone now that doesn’t consider their work to be art.

We’re currently full-blown into the first web art movement. Never before have web designers gone so all-out with new techniques, experimenting in all directions but all with a common style. Embrace it, learn from it, grab the opportunity and emerge from it as a better designer.

History repeats?

If we’ve all embraced this radical new art movement in the sixties then we, the open-minded, contemporary web developers of the 21st century, should embrace the first ever web art movement as well: web 2.0!

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  1. Wat is a Web 2.0 look? Any examples? And who bashing it? I’m so out of the loop these days!

  2. This article is a nice rundown of the web 2.0 look :)

  3. Well I suppose this Web 2.0 style has one major problem. As does each and every other design trend.
    They tend to water down the identity of the brand they’re being use for. Using these style elements need to placed within appropriate context for them to be effective at all. This is true for all corporate identity design.
    The complaints are valid to the extent that mimicking this aesthetic adds limited value at the height of the trend and is tied to the identity of other brands. This in of itself is very undesirable form a clients perspective. The (smaller) client may not realise this and it’s the designers job to steer the identity in the right direction.

  4. I’ve been wondering how much Web 2.0 design actually is out there. Not much would be my guess.
    Swissmiss recently posted somelogo trends of 2007. Not a Web 2.0 reflection in sight!

  5. Good article. I really hate the “web2.0” word, and it has thus drawn me away from embracing the new trends. But you have put it in a very understandable way when relating to music. I will try to think of this article when im writing/talking about ‘web2.0’.