Mark Napier shredded the web with his 'Shredder 1.0.' Mark Tribe stripped it with 'Revelation 1.0.' Now redsmoke.com's Lew Baldwin wraps the web a la Christo with 'GoodWorld.' Commissioned by the Whitney's Artport, GoodWorld is a virtual browser that turns any site it visits into a (mostly) yellow abstract composition. All links are transformed into ascii smiley faces, and all images are grossly tweaked or simply 'wrapped' in yellow. GoodWorld transforms CNN.com into a Mondrian-esque Teletubby daydream. A political statement, or just good clean absurdity? - Curt Cloninger
With the year anniversary of 9-11 approaching, the topic of memorializing is once again a lively one. One man, living two blocks south of what used to be the World Trade Center, has turned to the web to voice his opinion on this topic. After seeing his neighborhood turn into a tourist trap with 'gawking suburbanites' taking snapshots, and 'crass opportunists' hawking quickly churned-out souvenirs, Todd Hulin responds with 'Twin Towers over Ground Zero,' America's number one theme park. Todd, of woodenteeth.com, is not new to parody, and this site reminds how memorializing can go so very wrong.
Humans are hardwired to seek meaning in things that have no meaning. 'You and We' exploits this tendency, juxtaposing random images and text in a pleasing, animated, Flash environment. The results seem unaccountably intentional. Visitors are invited to upload their own images and text into the 'You and We' database. The software then randomly sorts through the database like a kind of Tristan Tzara-bot, culling source material and dynamically displaying it in real time. Try as I might, I still can't view this piece without reading it as a purposeful narrative. - Curt Cloninger
You probably know about Mark Napier's 'net.flag' for the Guggenheim, but did you know he also made another interactive flag for... the Altoids Mints promotional site? 'USA 1.1' is a collaboration between Napier and interactive audio guru Chris Burke. It's an American flag that quickly deteriorates into a surrealistic, pixelated symbol of U.S. consumerism. The more you click, the weirder it gets. Hamburgers, space burgers, chain link fences, rows of houses that look like milk cartons, and sardonic audio loops all figure into the mix. Well done. - Curt Cloninger
The 'Doves' screen saver presents a street-level view of a big city apartment -- a view which regularly updates itself according to the time. So in the morning, garbage cans are out front and birds are chirping. At night, the sky gets dark, sirens and trains wail and whistle, and TV lights flicker behind the curtains. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes there's a delivery truck out front. The changes are subtle, but over time, you get attached to this other world within your computer. Kind of like Jimmy Stewart in 'Rear Window,' but without the violence. - Curt Cloninger
Artist Heath Bunting turns border hack in \_BorderXing Guide\_, the newest installment in the Tate Modern's Net Art initiative. Bunting crossed numerous international borders unfettered , and the site documents his treks. On top of its intentions to comment on how travel is restricted by politically and economically-motivated bureaucracies, the project's accessibility is itself controlled: users must submit a static IP address to function as an authorized client or log in from a preapproved terminal. Waiting for approval may seem as much fun as standing in line for a passport stamp, but what gets revealed will reward your patience.
The frigate bird flies huge distances across oceans, but is unable to land on water. Right now, frigate birds from all over the world are converging on Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, where artist Sean Kerr's 'Binney Project' is installed. Kerr lifted a bird from a work by New Zealand painter Don Binney and gave it a virtual lease on life. By using cell phones or logging onto the web site, people from all over the world can launch and fly frigate birds across a series of screens in the museum. According to simple keystrokes, birds fly in formation, circle and squawk. The concept is simple but fun - and when you get tired of flying, click 'quit' and see your bird fall dramatically into the ocean with a satisfying 'plop.' - Helen Varley Jamieson
Textz is not a web site but a revolution. 'We are not the dot in dot.com, neither are we the minus in e-book" it claims. Rather it is a zone of excess, access, and lots of free texts. Textz provides an assortment of essays and books for free and searchable by author, date, title, number of hits, or randomly. Textz encourages everyone to take part in the movement: all you need is a $50 scanner and a $50 printer. This is not a matter of content but discontent. Textz illustrates that file-sharing, popularized by Napster, is an ongoing battle against the corporate myth of electronic scarcity.
Before there was Flash, there was C++. Before there was net.art, there was the demo scene. Intended as short trailers for programmers' wares, demos rapidly became respected as the means for programmers to show off their creativity and mastery of code. Zdeno Hlinka is a young programmer from Slovakia who never forgot his roots as a demo producer. His creations are a brilliant mix of net.art-inspired visuals and experimental electronic music. He has an archive of his work to download here, ranging from early rave demos from the early 90's to more avant garde recent projects. 'Metamorf' and 'Different Engine' are likely masterpieces of the medium. --Eryk Salvaggio