[rumori] Interesting sites... (fwd)

Steev [rumori] Interesting sites... (fwd)
Thu, 3 Dec 1998 14:31:05 -0800 (PST) (00912724265, Pine.LNX.4.05.9812031430240.28888-100000atflotsam.detritus.net)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 12:04:44 -0800 (PST)
From: Jon <jonatkzsu.Stanford.EDU> To: steevathise.org
Subject: Interesting sites... (fwd)

hey steev. heres an article that was sent to me by a client, no less.
(one who knows my interest in appropriation, even if he doesnt really
know that is what it is haha.) i am sure you are familiar with most
of the sites refered to (and am sure of it on a couple counts!), but
i mostly thought it was cool that this article was in the ny times.
kinda a good sign, as far as spreading awareness, and putting into
light issues of electronic ownership, etc etc.


> December 3, 1998
> When Artists Build Their Own Browsers
> While most visual artists aspire to change the way we see the world, some=
> achieve this goal not by what they show us but how they show it.
> We tend to take for granted that, whether we are using Internet Explorer or=
> Netscape Navigator, what appears in the browser window is presented with=
> some degree of consistency from monitor to monitor, including works of=
> online art.
> But two new artist-developed programs that are freely accessible on the Web=
> serve to remind us of the presence of the raw digital materials that lurk=
> behind the browser window, the extensive handiwork that goes into shaping=
> them for human consumption, and the arbitrariness of the conventions for=
> Web page display.
> Mark Napier's Shredder, launched Thursday, is a plain-looking little Web=
> site that takes just about any URL you care to enter and transforms the Web=
> page's text, graphics and underlying HTML code into a mangled but dazzling =
> display.
> Andi Freeman's funksolegrind, launched in late September, is a small program=
> written in Java that requires downloading and installation. When opened,=
> the browser-style program takes any Web page's textual elements, including=
> the underlying code for links, and spews the letters randomly across the=
> screen. As the lines of type overlap, they fade into a dark gray oblivion.
> Artists in emerging media are often fond -- perhaps overly so -- of using=
> their chosen medium to point out its unique characteristics. In the digital=
> realm, approaches have ranged from deliberately unfriendly user interfaces=
> to jodi.org's impressionistic washes of ASCII characters that have been=
> stripped of their informational purpose.
> Both Napier and Freeman were inspired by Web Stalker, a rather revelatory=
> example of this especially self-conscious genre. Developed by a trio of=
> British artists, Web Stalker is an alternative browser that ignores the=
> medium's graphical elements, focusing instead on the structural=
> relationships between linked texts.
> Although Web Stalker effectively challenges the notion of what constitutes a=
> browser, its primary visual payoff is a diagram of a selected site, a=
> practical map of circles and lines. Napier and Freeman follow a different=
> route: they appropriate and destroy, although the results can be quite appe=
> aling.
> Napier, a digital artist in New York who maintains the Potatoland.org site,=
> considered building his own browser but ultimately rejected the idea and=
> constructed the Netscape- and Explorer-compatible Shredder instead.
> "It's more fun -- sneakier -- to work from inside the system and create a=
> completely unexpected aesthetic within a familiar context," Napier said.=
> "And with no downloads or Java toolkits, it's just more accessible. I think=
> of the Web as a public place, and I like to think of my artwork as public=
> art; it's a seamless part of the Web environment."
> Napier held on to the metaphor of the electronic shredder in developing the=
> PERL-scripted filter that produces a new rendition of the selected page. It=
> serves as a subversive reminder that the Web may be a publishing medium but=
> one that certainly isn't print.
> Napier mused: "You're not dealing with paper you can shred here, so what=
> happens when you try? What's similar and what's different between this=
> world and the physical world we're coming from?"
> As a page flows through the Shredder, vertical strips of text stream down=
> the screen. Chopped-up images and enlarged chunks of text soon join the=
> collage. Although the color scheme is derived from the original page, a=
> background hue may emerge as the dominant one. Similarly, a tiny graphic=
> element may become huge.
> After the transformation, many of the links remain live, so it is actually=
> possible to surf through Shredder. In some instances, flashing graphics=
> like ad banners continue to blink; when the animation is something as=
> tonally sophisticated as the artist Robbin Murphy's Osiris, the shredded=
> results can resemble a Stuart Davis painting that has come alive.
> With its appropriation of "found objects" -- credit-card logos, vacation=
> snapshots -- Shredder's output also shares a sensibility with Robert=
> Rauschenberg's "combines," which incorporated anything from old tires to=
> torn envelopes.
> But Napier professed admiration for a different artistic inspiration:=
> Jackson Pollock, currently the subject of a retrospective exhibit at the=
> Museum of Modern Art. "I love the organic quality he gets from the medium,=
> even when he was working with roofing tar or latex," Napier said. "And for=
> me, what happens [in Shredder] with the images and the text starts to=
> become organic -- somewhat random but not mindlessly random."
> =46or some reason, commercial sites like Download.com and the Microsoft home=
> page, as well as portal venues like Yahoo!, produce some of the most=
> eye-popping results when Shredded.
> While it is enjoyable to restyle these graphic-design disasters into=
> visually arresting pages, the most perverse pleasure provided by Shredder=
> is its ability to convert sites devoted to such inexplicably popular public=
> figures as Madonna into digital confetti.
> =46unksolegrind offers a similar experience, even though its monochromatic,=
> image-free results are not as advanced as Shredder's. It may also require=
> some extra effort; although it functioned smoothly on a Macintosh computer,=
> repeated attempts to install the program on a PC failed.
> =46reeman, a multimedia developer in London, did not reply to e-mail or=
> faxed messages, but the "read me" file accompanying his program stated that=
> "it will not help you to navigate the Internet... Rather use funksolegrind=
> to generate, improve or remove." The browser is the first in a series=
> called "sHrd" -- pronounced "shred," of course -- and future editions are=
> likely to handle graphics and sound.
> At present, there are no plans to create a new and improved version of Web=
> Stalker, the browser that inspired both Shredder and funksolegrind. In an=
> e-mail message, Matthew Fuller, one of Web Stalker's trio of developers,=
> said the program "has pretty much achieved what it set out to establish: a=
> specific intervention into the browser wars and the techno-aesthetic cartel=
> of Explorer and Navigator."
> He added: "We have found that there are thousands of reasons for people=
> wanting to use Web sites in the 'wrong' way. Web Stalker helps them to do=
> this -- and more important, to dream of and invent new ones."
> =46or Napier, the time for dreaming is over. Shredder, he said, is "a way of=
> waking people up to the possibilities of the medium aesthetically."
> If you don't agree, of course, you can take this page's URL and shred it.
> artsatlarge is published on Thursdays. Click here for a list of links to=
> other columns in the series.
> Related Sites These sites are not part of The New York Times on the Web, and=
> The Times has no control over their content or availability.
> Shredder
> funksolegrind
> jodi.org
> Web Stalker
> Potatoland.org
> Osiris
> Download.com
> Microsoft
> Yahoo!
> Madonna Home Page
> http://www.potatoland.org/shredder/
> http://www.channel.org.uk/sHrd/
> http://www.jodi.org/100/
> http://www.backspace.org/iod/
> http://www.potatoland.org/
> http://www.artnetweb.com/iola/OSIRIS/

"Opinions are my own; they do not represent those of KZSU nor Stanford U." email/finger/talk jonatkzsu.stanford.edu http://kzsu.stanford.edu/jon.html "One advantage of web sites, I find. They don't forget." -- Prophet Nick