Myron Turner
Since the beginning
Works in Winnipeg United States of America

My work for the web has been included in Rhizome's Artbase,,, Machinista 2003/Artificial Intelligence and Art,,, It has been shown at the Fredericton Independent Film & Video Alliance Conference, and supported by the Banff Centre's New Media program. In 2005 one of my pieces was nominated for a Viper International award. My project "Bstat Zero" will be featured in February 2006 as an Artport project of the Whitney Museum Of Art. I have been a guest panelist at Banff and founded Manitoba Visual Arts Network in 1994. I've been a member of Rhizome from its first year. My personal web site is

I started my career as a printmaker, moved into photo-based art, and in 1990 began using computers in my work. My work has appeared throughout Canada both in public galleries and artist-run centers. I have also exhibited in the U.S., Great Britain and South America. My woodcut prints interpreting zoomed digital images have twice won awards at the Boston Printmakers' "North American Print" biennial and have been shown in various print competitions and venues, including The Print Center (Philadelphia) and International Print Center New York.
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Re: AJAX for artists

I was very interested in these posts concerning Ajax, which I hadn't heard of before, although I was aware of the possible interactive use of XML, i.e. read about it but never tried it out. But you sparked my interest and I found useful links at

While Ajax refers to a particular technology, ie. Javascript in combination with XML and behind the scenes server access that can be parsed using the DOM, the purpose of Ajax, as I understand it, is independent of any particular technology.

"The intent is to shift a great deal of interaction to the Web surfer's computer, exchanging data with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire Web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user makes a change. This is meant to increase the Web page's interactivity, speed, and usability." -- from wikipedia

This is a practice which I've been interested in for some time, most recently in Bstat Zero at, where using php and perl and both hidden and visible frames, I create a user interface that remains constant, while a great deal of data is loaded into the hidden frames and accessed by the user interface.

There are basically two kinds of hidden data--javscript and html, each of which is accessed on an as needed basis. When a major new access is made from the visible screen this hidden data changes. But otherwise, it reamins behind when the visible screen updates data from the server.

The aim was to give the user some feeling that this is a like a desktop application, and depending on how fast your connection is and how great a load of data has to be fetched from the server, it often has the feel of a desktop app.

A big difference between Ajax and what I've been doing is that Ajax may put a bigger demand on the borwser. The data I load into the hidden frames is already pre-cooked, but with Ajax I assume you have to parse the input stream. I found that I had to make changes to bstat when I put too much of a demand on the browser--even with a fairly powerful machine. So, that is a consideration.

Myron Turner


New project: is a data-mining and database project, which I hope will be of interest to people interested in databases, code, and language.

There are two parts to the project:

1. It searches web sites and library catalogues for words which signify "big" questions, i.e of philosophy, religion, science. It stores them with their contexts in a searchable database, which at present consists of approximately 65,000 library and 45,000 web entries. Visitors to the site can search the database for terms other than the big terms to see how these terms are used and contextualized in our culture, as often amusing and trivial as they are serious. The web sites where the terms occur are accessible by links as are the library databases, which can then be further searched.

2. There's a "real time" window where the results of the data-mining can be watched, both the raw accumulation of found data and the software code itself as it moves through its paces. The latter is a kind of mini-debugger for the perl script which does the real time searches for raw output. This is raw, in that the data will later be processed for inclusion in the database and then indexed.

I see in this a.m.'s RARE that Lewis LaCook is reporting on his survey about code. I have to confess that one of my reasons for doing is love of code. It's been a massive coding porject: the coding of the database and its structures, data-mining software for both web sites and library catalogues, the real time coding which is perl on the server and javascript in the browser, the DHTML interface etc. I started almost 2 years ago when I discovered the perl Z3950 module for accessing over 1000 online library catalogues. But I had to develop a module, now part of the perl Z3950 project, which could query any library, not just ones you were familiar with, without potentially freezing up so that it could be used over the web and for querying up to 1000 libraries also without hanging.

But this obsession with code combines with an interest in language and its cultural contexts. And with an attempt to mirror in a web project the experience of the Internet, or at least my experience. On the one hand, the Internet reaches out into a vast cultural and techological space that can only be imagined. On the other hand, there are the depths, the inner workings, the code. Both kinds of space are hidden from view; yet they intersect in the experience of the person sitting at the monitor. And this intersection has a parallel in the intersection of public and private space that also goes into the making of the Internet experience. The closest analogy to this kind of space is the architecture of large structures, which is also a technological and cultural space that can't be taken in all at once but at best imagined, which also has its hidden technological depths and is the nexus of public and private experience.
I had an exchange about this earlier in the year with Curt Cloninger:


Re: Re: Re: Re: Setting Up the Punch Line And Blogspace

Right--heady--the kind of thing that can send chills up your spine!


curt cloninger wrote:

> It seems like you're saying architecture is cool becauese
> you can't out-meta it. You're not going to put somebody's
> architecture into a gallery. Architecture defines its own context (or
> its context is simply worldspace). And the network can be that way
> too. It's not just a "place" to show your art; it is itself an
> artistic medium, with its own kind of implicit unboundedness (Eric
> Raymond likens it to the noosphere -- realtime mindspace). Heady
> stuff, but I don't think it's entirely unfounded.


Re: Re: Setting Up the Punch Line And Blogspace

Hi Curt,

Once again, I'm indebted to your great eclectic "ear" for web sites. I'm probably the ideal victim of autodidactic's wit, since I've known 'Hamlet' well, having taught it, but it's been over 10 years since I've looked at it. So, there was an immediate sense of familiarity, but not immediate recognition.

I also like, a search engine with witty self-awareness.

As to your qualificaton about "expansive installations" pieces--I agree: I think of architecture as a metaphor for virtual space, not as an actual space where installations could be mounted. I like the metaphor because architecture, despite its potentially massive physicality, or perhaps when it is most massive and cannnot be taken in all at once, requires an internalized imaginative grasp of space. And it's an internalized imaginative beholding of space that, I feel, is the defining characteristic of networks as aesthetic constructions.
I hope that this doesn't sound like too much of a stretch--but it helps me to view the net in the idealistic terms that have always appealed to me.


curt cloninger wrote:

> I find the architecture analogy more desirable than the gallery
> analogy, unless you mean some expansive installation piece that takes
> over the context of the entire gallery. Otherwise, the gallery is
> *not* what net art wants to be -- discrete piece after discrete piece,
> neatly labeled and formally contextualized as art.
> I'm guessing that artists are more free to work/exploit the network
> and new media when they aren't always having to fit their work into
> some contexted "art" box (as alexei shulgin could have told us in
> 1995). For example, only one of these pieces is self-aware "art"
> (florian kramer's "permutations"), yet the rest of the pieces are
> interesting along the same lines:
> So maybe visiting and searching for "curt
> cloninger" presents a better example of my "" than
> _


Setting Up the Punch Line And Blogspace

Curt Cloninger's recent post on "Setting Up the Punch Line" raises some questions about what we want out of net art, what we want it to be. While he rejects "conceptual work" (at least such as Sherri Levine's), the notion that art might have a "punch line" is in fact a derivative of Conceptual art in the first place. When art with a punch line first appeared, it's very nature--just being called "art"--had an impact in and of itself, and when it projected a significant message, viz Sol Lewitt going to The Netherlands to bury a metal cube in the ground, the impact was even greater. It was an Art which you didn't stand before, as at a shrine, drinking in its spirit. So it's no wonder that net art has such a predominance of work which ends in a punch-line and is embedded in explanatory texts. By its very nature, it is not a medium from which you can stand back. But unfortunately, the punch lines begin to wear thin. What we get is an art of the one-liner. And it doesn't live up to the promise of the net, which is just that, a network, interactive and participatory.

Recently, Ryan Griffiths contributed an excellent post on 'The Social Construction of Blogspace'. What his piece communicates most of all is his sense of the net as a space--both personal and public. Such a space is ripe with opportunities for art. The art of the punch line takes its queues from video and cinema, and there's no doubt that there are analogies to be made with both of these forms, just as there is with the book. But the art which explores the intersection of public and private space is architecture, and it's here where I believe that the art of the Internet will ultimately find its most profound analogies. It is no coincidence that we speak of computer architectures when referring to operating systems and systems of code--the net is founded upon these "architectures"--these technologies which organize and enable the public and private spaces of the Internet. Mathematicians speak of the beauty of mathematics, software developers speak of the elegance of code. In the very notion of computer architecture there is buried an aesthetic recognition. The question for net artists is how to understand and organize public and private spaces and their intersections so that these spaces become aesthetic and then, while doing this, to create just what is meant in such instances by "aesthetic".

I don't deny aesthetic value to the art of the one-liner and the usual web project, of which I have myself been guilty. But it's not enough to treat the screen like a wall in a gallery--to hang a work there on its glassy surface. The computer is a trans-prosthetic device--the monitor a virtual extension of what the phenomenologists call our "intentionality"--of the means by which we explore and know the phenomenal world, an extension of our mental space. In other words, it's not an object to "behold" but an object which extends our ability to behold. And it's here, where the computer has been internalized and where public and private meet that we can possibly create an art which like the art of galleries and architectural space takes us beyond the short attention span of the punch line.

Myron Turner