Candid Shots of Strangers' Desktops

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Ever wanted to take a peak at a stranger's computer desktop? Now you can download a program,"DeskSwap," from the Web that allows you to exchange your desktop for another user's -- well, at least in the form of a screensaver. This program-as-work-of-art takes a snapshot of another user's desktop and then uploads it to the DeskSwap server. Voyeurs will love the fact that all of the shots are candid.

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A Happily Purposeless Browser

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"Reconnoitre" is a work of browser art that is "happily purposeless," according to its creators -- the team of Tom Corby and Gavin Baily, who have shown at major new media art venues such as Ars Electronica, Transmediale, and the ICA London. In other words, it works like most search engines, but presents what it finds in an abstract yet aesthetically pleasing way. Happy surfing.

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The Web: Like the Phone, Like TV?

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Does our use of the Web parallel our use of popular appliances such as the telephone or the television? Digital artist Lance Shields cleverly compares the three in his recent work of Net art, "Tele-phony." The Web is both and neither: it's a communication device, yet it also encourages countless hours of isolating screen-gazing. Good luck trying to enter your commands -- there are some unexpected, er, phony technical challenges built into this site, which are all in the name of fun rather than frustration.

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911 for Coping with the 9/11 Tragedy

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To help communities cope with the far-reaching aftermath of the September 11th attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, Rhizome has launched a special webpage called "911--The September 11 Project," which includes a resource page, links to photographs and art related to the tragedies, and an area for users to post additional relevant links.

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Pixel Plunder

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Tonight at 8 at Workplace in Toronto, Canada, a new exhibition of net art entitled "Pixel Plunder" opens (and is also accessible online). The show features seven projects that examine authenticity, online copyright rights, and intellectual property issues -- via subversion, parody and satire. On view: sanctioned hacking of the Tate Modern's Web site (by Harwood from the Mongrel Collective), Duchampian digital readymades (by MTAA), and more.

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Net Art Meets E-Books

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Mark your calendar. This Saturday, Net art meets the e-book world at a launch party (co-hosted by Rhizome and curator Cristine Wang) for new electronic literature launched by Alt-X, the 8 year old Web site that has published seminal hypertext writings by the likes of Mark Amerika. Gather at FUN, located at 130 Madison Street in Manhattan, from 7-10 PM, and listen to live music as large-scale projections of e-book and online art by Eugene Thacker, Digital Studies, and more are featured.

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A Desktop is Worth a Thousand Words

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Ever left an incriminating email on your computer screen by accident? Worried that snooping neighbors will take advantage of your forgetfulness? Artist Mark Daggett has created a screen saver that will make your skin crawl. Deskswap is a multi-user artwork that takes a snapshot of your computer desktop and swaps it with someone else also online at that moment. You don't know who's seeing your desktop, and they don't know you either. But you see every icon, folder and window running on their computer. Deskswap was launched yesterday and is already serving 300 users. Sign on, if you dare.

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International Prize Announced for A-Life

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Organizers have recently announced LIFE 4.0, an international competition for digital arts. The competition will evaluate artwork specializing in "artificial life," a term given to computerized systems that emulate the behaviors of living organisms. Spain's Telefonica Foundation is sponsoring the competition. A total purse of $20,000 will be awarded to four finalists. Deadline for submissions is November 2, 2001. Previous winners include the American artist Ken Rinaldo, who last year created "Autopoiesis," an installation artwork using robotics.

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