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Contemporary Artists Use Controversial New Canvas; Exposing the Myth of Web Security; How to Edit Your Own Video Productions Just Like the Pros

Aired June 3, 2000 - 12:30 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Today on CNNdotCOM...

PERRI PELTZ, CO-HOST: Looks interesting.


MARK AMERIKA, INTERNET ARTIST: I'm hoping that it'll break all the rules and force people to rethink about the art world itself.


PELTZ: But is it art?


MICHAEL KIMMELMAN (ph), ART CRITIC, "NEW YORK TIMES": It just isn't giving us anything new except adding point-and-click technology.


PELTZ: The controversial new canvas for contemporary artists: cyberspace.

And if you think your Internet connection is secure, think again.


RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: I think a lot of us believe that we are secure when we use our credit cards online. But are we?


PELTZ: Exposing the myth of Web security.

Plus, lights, camera, laptop. Now you can edit your own video productions just like us pros. Hey, we could be out of a job.

Those stories and a whole lot more ahead on CNNdotCOM.

ANNOUNCER: CNNdotCOM with Perri Peltz and James Hattori.

PELTZ: Welcome to CNNdotCOM. I'm Perri Peltz.

The latest wave to sweep the contemporary art world isn't suitable for framing. In fact, you can't hang it on your wall at all. It's Internet art, where the artist's palette is a PC, and the artwork exists on a computer screen.

No longer just art on the edge, these online creations are going mainstream, although some critics question whether it's art at all.

For more on the controversial new genre, let's go to the world of art.


(voice-over): There's nothing like a museum, a walk into the world of art, a glance of a Renoir, the feel of a Picasso, the beauty of a Degas.

Oh, but what about the long lines, the wait, the inconvenience?

Thanks to the Internet, you can bring the museum to your home and enjoy the old masters in the comfort of your own living room, by logging on to sites like

Or you can visit your computer for a different kind of art experience. The Internet has given birth to its own genre of art. It is appropriately called Internet art. It looks something like this. It sounds like this. And most importantly, it is interactive.

MARK AMERIKA, INTERNET ARTIST: What I find kind of exciting about being an Internet or new media artist is that you are essentially the Picasso or James Joyce of your age.

PELTZ: This is Mark Amerika, the former bike messenger supports himself as an art professor and is himself an Internet artist. For Amerika, breaking the rules is what Internet is all about.

AMERIKA: That's why I love it. I'm hoping that it'll break all the rules and force people to rethink about the art world itself. What is the art world, and what does it mean to be an artist? Maybe it's just someone who wants to create an elaborately constructed home page, put it up on the Web, and attract viewers from all over the world.

PELTZ: And people the world over are visiting, an Internet art site that combines video conferencing, live videos, live audio, to produce what the Web site's three artists hope is an artistic experience.

(on camera): So Jeff, tell me, show me what you do. Create for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is a sketchbook of the hierarchical structure of the site, mapping out...

PELTZ: This looks more like a chemistry exam. (voice-over): insists this is far more creative.

PREMA MURTHY, FAKESHOP: We've chosen the tools that we're using to create an emotional response with an audience.

PELTZ: For the past few years, Internet art was available only on the Internet, Web sites on a good day logging a few hundred visits. But that has all changed.

Every two years, the Whitney Museum, one of the most important showcases of contemporary art, presents what it feels is the best art produced in Amerika. In the Biennial 2000, the Whitney chose to include nine Internet artists, including Mark Amerika and Fakeshop.

(on camera): The Whitney calls. Big time. How did it feel to get that call?

EUGENE THACKER, FAKESHOP: Being the first time there including this new medium, it was -- it's -- you know, it was quite an honor to be involved in it.

PELTZ: Most Internet artists have been exhibiting their work in the cyber back room, and now the Whitney is exhibiting some of their works. Why did you decide to include the Internet artists?

MAXWELL L. ANDERSON, DIRECTOR, WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART: We've had a commitment to showing the work of Net art. There hasn't been a very convenient way to do it until this biennial. We wanted to encourage artists to think that if they're working in that medium, they have a chance to be shown on a national platform.

PELTZ (voice-over): Despite the prestige of the Whitney, Internet art has plenty of critics, people who say the work is anything but art, only a jazzed-up Web site.

Michael Kimmelman (ph) is the art critic for "The New York Times."

MICHAEL KIMMELMAN, ART CRITIC, "NEW YORK TIMES": The question is whether or not these as visual images tell us anything new or interesting that we couldn't see on film, or on video, or, you know, in a painting if this was a still image. And I think that's generally the problem with Internet art. It just isn't giving us anything new except adding point-and-click technology.

PELTZ: What would be your response, then, to people who are unfamiliar with this genre, who are coming into the Whitney, who walk into that room and say, This isn't art.

AMERIKA: Well, I'd say go back home or to work and look at your computer and revisit the site and spend some time with it, and you might actually get some sort of an artistic experience out of it.

PELTZ: There was criticism of the Internet art that was included at the biennial, fuzzy pictures, the audio wasn't good, that there wasn't a clear message. What do you say to the critics? ANDERSON: You know what it's like to have Net access anywhere. It's not always reliable. The networks can have difficulties, they can be jammed and busy. So there will be glitches from time to time, but that's what the Internet is today. And it's like phone calls used to be 40 years ago, when you weren't really sure if you were going to maintain the connection.

PELTZ (voice-over): So, like video artists and photographers before them, Internet artists are struggling to convince the art world and the cyberworld of their legitimacy.

KIMMELMAN: Look, whether art on the Net has anything like the potential that video art has remains to be seen, because essentially what makes an art form in a new technology is its ability to use that technology, not just exist on it, but to produce something that is intrinsic to the Net that makes it specific to that medium.

PELTZ: You could say Internet art is like a liquid substance, because the technology it uses changes as fast as the viewer clicks and drags the mouse. Ultimately this means the technology used today will become obsolete tomorrow, a serious challenge for the Internet art collector.

(on camera): Let's say, Mark, that I'm a big Mark Amerika fan. How do I collect your work?

AMERIKA: You can't collect my work on the Internet. It's for free, it's in the public domain. Everyone has access to it. So therefore, you can't own my work.

PELTZ: You can't sell your art work. How do you survive?

AMERIKA: I'm not so concerned about surviving as an artist on the Internet. Lots of things come in. You can get grants, commissions, consultancies. You can make money doing Web designs.

PELTZ (voice-over): Amerika believes that not only do Internet artists have no reason to think they'll starve, but insists that they can reach an audience far greater than any museum could be creating and disseminating work through the Net.

AMERIKA: Anybody can become an artist, and by putting it on the Internet, anybody can locate an audience, perhaps an audience of great size. And from that point build a community around that artwork.


PELTZ: If you want to see more of Mark Amerika's work, log onto And you can still see parts of the Whitney Biennial exhibit, including the Internet art gallery, for the next two weeks.

The Whitney also plans on devoting an entire show to Internet art next spring.

We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: Coming upon THE DOT, want to keep a low profile on the Web? Lots of luck.


DAN TYNAN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "PC WORLD": It's conceivable that your profile could be subpoenaed by a court in a custody case, saying, Oh, you visited some naughty sites.


ANNOUNCER: The growing threat to Internet privacy, and what you can do about it, ahead on CNNdotCOM.


ANNOUNCER: From the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, here's James Hattori.

JAMES HATTORI, CO-HOST: Talk about slanting the news, this computerized projection tilt table from the folks at Xerox is a futuristic way of accessing information as opposed to turning a conventional book page. It would be tough to read on an airplane, though.

For some of the other new developments in high technology, on an even keel, here's this week's NewsFiles.


(voice-over): Water torture: That slow drip, drip, drip you hear is the Microsoft antitrust trial dragging on and on and on. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson was expected to rule this week on a government plan to break up the software giant, but he's giving both sides until next week to file additional arguments before he decides Microsoft's punishment for violating antitrust law. His final gavel is expected shortly after that.

Yeah, right.

Viruses need not apply: Now our weekly virus report. The latest strain, dubbed the Killer Resume bug, masquerades as an e-mail with the subject line "Resume Janet Simons." It began showing up last Friday. Officials feared a major outbreak when most Americans returned from the long holiday weekend, but it didn't happen. Like the Love Bug virus that attacked millions of computers last month, this one also spreads through an attachment in e-mail systems using Microsoft Outlook.

Bet Janet Simons doesn't get the job.

Silicon wannabes: Welcome to e-country. At least, that's what Fairfax County, Virginia, likes to be called. Home to dozens of dot.coms, it's running an ad campaign touting itself as the technology hub of the East Coast.


ANNOUNCER: Yup, you're in e-country now.


HATTORI: One ad even shows a woman's leg tattooed with a computer. Talk about name branding.

And speaking of names, Silicon Valley has spawned dozens of high- tech handles. There's New York's Silicon Alley, of course. Portland, Maine, wants to go by Webport. Troy, Michigan, is calling itself Automation Alley, and Massachusetts wants to be known as the Dot- Commonwealth. Not to mention the 10 cities that claim the name Silicon Prairie. Can you say Silicon envy?

Face-off: Which smiley face do you use? With a nose, or without? That earth-shattering question is the subject of a poll you can take by logging onto Well, so far, the eyes have it, but the noses don't. Only 24 percent use an emoticon with a nose, 57 percent without. Eighteen percent don't use them at all. How sad.

And that's this week's NewsFiles.


ANNOUNCER: Up next, NerdWord, "teraflop." You won't want to tear yourself away. The answer in just a minute.


PELTZ: Now, time for IDG's NerdWord. Today's digidefinition, "teraflop." No, it's not a really bad sequel to "Gone With the Wind." And no, it's not a painful dive in a competition judged by the biggest splash. A teraflop is a measure of a computer's speed. It can be expressed as a trillion floating point operations per second, or FLOPs, which is a common measurement for rating the speed of microprocessors.

And if that isn't fast enough, scientists have started envisioning computers working together in parallel at speeds of a thousand teraflops. That's called a pentaflop. Thinking about that's enough to give you a brain flop.

We'll be back in a moment.


PELTZ: With the recent hack attacks and virus outbreaks, there's a lot of talk about beefing up Internet security. But when it comes to your privacy, the biggest threat on the Net may not come from hackers. It may come from legitimate online businesses, sites you visit and shop every day.

"PC World" contributing editor Dan Tynan has been investigating online privacy. Rick Lockridge got together with him for some Tools to make your surfing more secure.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TYNAN: What happens is, when yo view a Web page, almost invariably, if it's a commercial Web site, there's an ad. And you sent the ad from usually an advertising network, like DoubleClick. When DoubleClick sends you the ad, they send what's called a cookie to your hard drive. A cookie is a small text file, has a little bit of information about you.

That cookie gets sent back to DoubleClick, and that cookie now tells them what page you looked at and what ad you looked at. Next site you go to, also served by DoubleClick, says what page you were at, what ad you looked at. And the next site, and the next site. Suddenly here's a trail of everywhere you've been on the Web.

Now, to date, these profiles are anonymous, which is to say, it doesn't know your name, it doesn't know your address, it doesn't know your e-mail address. What's happened lately, however, is that some companies want to take these anonymous profiles and attach your name and your e-mail address, and also, by the way, your income and what you bought at a mail order house last year.

This is what DoubleClick tried to do. There was such an outrage from users, from consumer groups, even from some of DoubleClick's advertising partners, that they backed off.

LOCKRIDGE: Is the anonymous information that they're currently gathering -- why would that be valuable to them, and why wouldn't they want to go ahead and attach it to people? Seems like it would be infinitely more valuable if you had the more personal information attached to it.

TYNAN: Well, it's very valuable to DoubleClick to have that personal information attached to your Web habits, because they want to target you with ads. It is conceivable that once you have an online profile, it will be used in ways that you and advertisers and Web sites haven't yet dreamed up. It's very easy to imagine a future where a potential employer would like to look at your online profile.

Perhaps you visit union sites a lot. Perhaps you visit a health site and you look up AIDS, or some long-term genetic diseases. Well, some employers would love to know that before they hire you.

It's conceivable that your profile could be subpoenaed by a court in a custody case, saying, Oh, you visited some naughty sites, you know, and we're going to hold that against you in court, or a divorce case.

So what happens -- what starts as kind of an innocent thing -- Gee, we want to target out ads more to you -- can become something not innocent at all.

LOCKRIDGE: Most of us, I think, trust Web sites to do what they say they'll do, and we also trust them to handle our credit cards safely. We know that we can't buy anything unless we've got a credit card number. But I think a lot of us believe that we are secure when we use our credit cards online. But are we? TYNAN: Ah, well, the credit card companies and the e-commerce sites in general have had quite a number of scandals in the last few months, starting with the CD Universe case, where a hacker allegedly stole 300,000 credit card numbers from this, you know, music vendor on the Web. So it's becoming more and more clear that, you know, your credit card number isn't as safe as people might like you to believe.

Now, one of the guarantees you have is, typically you're only liable for $50, you know, if you use a credit card. So if you're going to shop on the Internet, it makes sense to be a little bit of a hawk with your credit card statement.

LOCKRIDGE: What would you say would be a sort of like a bullet- point policy you can use when you're out there on the Web, and you don't want to be taken advantage of, and you don't necessarily want to give away more than you have to?

TYNAN: Well, one thing you have to remember is, your information's value has a lot of value. So maybe when you go to a Web site, and it says, Gee, we'd like you to sign up and give us all this information, say, What's in it for me? Never give your Social Security number to anybody but, you know, like, your employer, your bank, the federal government. If you do give your e-mail address, set up an account, like a free account on the Web, like at Yahoo! or Hotmail, or an, you know, extra account with your ISP that you don't really use.

Set up, if you can, a separate credit card with a low credit limit, like $500, and use that for your online purchases. It makes it just much more easy to look at it every month and say, OK, I bought this, but I didn't buy that.

People shouldn't stay away from e-commerce, they should just do it in a smart fashion. But the main thing is, just be very, very stingy with your information.


ANNOUNCER: For more information on Net privacy, check out the June issue of "PC World," available on newsstands now.

Just ahead on THE DOT, turn your home videos into blockbuster productions with just a camcorder and a laptop. Who said you had to be Steven Spielberg to be a big-time director?


PELTZ: OK, so you want to be a big-time director, but you don't have a big-time bank account. Well, now you can produce your own blockbuster without busting your own budget.

Here again, Rick Lockridge with this week's TechnoFile.


LOCKRIDGE: You know how we do things here at CNN, major television network, big crews, right? Lots of lights, multiple cameras, blimp shot. And then there's the editing suite. Look at all this equipment. It's like the bridge of the "Enterprise."

Ordinary folks could never do what we do with just a digital camcorder or two and a laptop computer. Or could they?

I'm coming to you now from inside Apple Power Book G3, specially configured for video editing. It's the first laptop that's ever been able to do what we're doing with it now.

The 500 megahertz G3 has a very fast hard drive. This $3,500 model has 12 gigs, enough drive space to hold more than 30 minutes of high-quality digital video, which you feed in directly from the camera through a single slender cable called a firewire. And because the process is digital, there's no drop-off in quality.

We're using two digital camcorders for this piece, a $2,500 Canon GL-1 and this Sony PD-100A, which retails for about four grand. Both are three-chip cameras, which means they shoot pictures sharp enough to approach the quality of the big cameras we usually use around here.

Both have swing-out LCD monitors, which you can flip over and frame yourself up if you happen to be performing as your own cameraman.

Now you need software to put your video together on the Power Book. I'm using Apple's Final Cut Pro. You can use another Apple software called iMovie. It's easier to learn and comes preloaded on many new Macs.

But if you're willing to spend $1,000 and a lot of time learning to use it, Final Cut Pro is much more powerful.

For you Windows users, Adobe Premier and Aftereffects can be found for just under $1,000.

Up until right now, if you told me you wanted to produce a story like this one using only digital camcorders and a laptop, I would have told you, forget about it. But now you can.

Just make sure you don't get carried away with the blimp shots.

That's TechnoFile.


PELTZ: Now that you can produce your own show, give us feedback on ours. E-mail us at And you can get more tech news by logging onto

Thanks so much for watching. For all of us here at THE DOT, I'm Perri Peltz. We hope to see you again next week.



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