Posts for 2002

The Secret Swap

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Do you long to live vicariously through confessions of people you've never met? Do you feel the need to share your private side? If this sounds interesting, participate in Persistent Data Confidant, an online experiment in secret sharing and rating. First tell a secret to the Confidant. Once you submit your ear-burning tale, you are rewarded with an anonymous secret from the database that you must rate. Good ratings perpetuate the lifeline of a juicy tidbit, and bad ones kill that which is not worth repeating. One user confesses: 'I spend too much work time on the net.' The Persistent Data Confidant is one reason why.

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Shouting into the Void

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'Hello' by Yael Kanarek derives strength from its simplicity. Requiring minimal user input, Hello transforms the computer screen into an object for contemplation rather than a tool for interaction. Hello consists of one static image: a sci-fi cavernous, landscape in shades of pink that periodically emits an echoing 'hello.' Is this a commentary on the supposed detached isolation of cyberspace? Or is it proof that mouse clicking, complicated code, and hoards of links are not necessarily the only means to art-making online? The open-ended-ness of Hello allows for this kind of rumination and more.

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Like Absinthe

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Oculart is a nervous-looking web site. It twitches, and its music is constantly falling out of tune. Colliding poetry, Georgio de Chirico, and Flash animation (on amphetamines), it provides fascinating experiences. At times the Oculart environment feels like the haunted hallway of a seedy brothel from the 1920's -- other times like a Surrealist picnic in a suburban park. Oculart is a consistently beautiful, hallucinatory site, but just like absinthe, it uses a tremendous amount of system resources. Try closing all extraneous windows to optimize your visit. -- Eryk Salvaggio

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Touch This Wire(fire)

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Every Thursday at midnight (Belgian time), Wirefire invites you to a seductive audiovisual feast, mixed in real-time and served via a deceptively simple web interface. Artists Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn layer haunting samples of music, sound, voices, visuals of clouds and drifting feathers, and more into a mesmerizing collage. You're already entranced when a ball floats by with the words 'Touch Me' on it - so you do. It explodes with a cry. You're part of this performance. A text input field appears. What will you say? - Helen Varley Jamieson

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Less Is More

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Now in its third year, 'The 5k' is a minimalist web design competition like no other. Entries can be on any topic, and use any browser-enabled technology, provided they weigh in under 5k. Requirements produce some seriously mindblowing projects: a scale model of the solar system, a multimedia presentation of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," even a fully functional AI chess game. All 365 entries are online, and visible. Sign up to vote for your favorites. Official judges this year include design guru Clement Mok and Sci-Fi author Bruce Sterling. - Curt Cloninger

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A Twist Online

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The five net art projects in the new exhibition 'Web Racket' (at the Massachusetts' DeCordova Museum) toy with conventions of storytelling like video games, or fairy tales. Donna Leishman's wickedly witty take on Little Red Riding Hood is a chic, urban nightmare inlcuding a slouching boy on a scooter (the Wolf). Sit in an armchair to view Michael Mittelman's spin on video games, which takes on their violence with no holds barred. Interupt your own daily narrative and stop by this interesting collection. --J.D. Marsching

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Museum of the Mundane

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Keith Obadike sold his blackness on Ebay. Cary Peppermint sold himself as a artistic medium on Ebay. Michael Mandiberg and later John Freyer sold their possessions on Ebay. Alas, Matthew McClintock isn't selling anything on Ebay. He's just some fastidious guy who photographed every single object in his house for display on his website. From unique (an original Chris Ware comic strip, a vintage toy printing press) to banal (extension cords and power strips), McClintock bares all. You can even search by keyword -- 'shoe' is a good one. - Curt Cloninger

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Wild Kingdom

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Grab a virtual giraffe and hurl it through the air. Handle a virtual beetle until it explodes. Make a virtual horse dance on its hind legs. Frederic Durieu's 'Experimental Zoo' is innovative Shockwave programming at its most delightful. Rather than programming standard vector objects (balls, shapes, wireframe models) to respond to simulated gravity and mouse input, Durieu maps realistic shockwave behaviors to photo-realistic animal images. Each body segment is individually programmed to move in realistic relationship to others. The results are novel, bizarre, and engrossing. - Curt Cloninger

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Open-Source Literature

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Wired wonk Douglas Rushkoff authored 'Exit Strategy,' a Biblical parable of Joseph retold in a contemporary, net-economy setting. Then Rushkoff went a step further by making 'Exit Strategy' an open-source novel. Not only is the text free online, but anybody may annotate the online version. The idea is to pretend you are an anthropologist 200 years from now. You've just unearthed an antique novel called 'Exit Strategy.' You must add footnotes explaining its cryptic contents to the people of 2300 AD. How will future societies interpret our nascent networked era? You decide. Clever concept; interesting reading. - Curt Cloninger

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8 Bit Threats to Beach Front Property

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A collision of colors with fragments from a Japanese design notebook, the web site kalx.com has been a colorful staple of the net.art scene since 1999, even inspiring a musical cd of pure sine wave compositions by electronic artist Jos Smolders. Content ranges from interactive flash maps of dreams to formalist html explosions featuring John Ashcroft. The site has been dormant for a while, but new work has surfaced recently, and given the dynamic nature and history of this site, it's worth checking in regularly. -- Eryk Salvaggio

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