Entering Heath Bunting's site via the front door (http://www.cybercafe.org),
you're reminded that, in terms of form at least, an essential element of comedy
is timing. Very few of the very many pages here exceed 3K, and for that alone, Bunting
deserves some sort of grant from somebody. This is first-class Net-based
work unburdened by megabytes of documentation, etc. - no plug-ins required.
Velocity, a Web slide show of stark black and white images,
actually hits the speed the feature was built for. The
images have been reduced to a minimum of bits for maximum impact.
The ultra-reduced resolution serves the work. Seemingly at
random, "markings," streets outlined by the white stripes of curbs and
arrows against a black blacker than asphalt, are mixed with "tags," most
probably negatives of street graffiti.
Bunting is concerned with setting up networks of communication that wouldn't
exist if the technology he calls on for help were only used in the way in
which they were intended. His primary materials are the public
telephone, the fax machine, email, your basic snail mail, postcards, etc..
The site contains projects, many of them date- time- and place- specific (i.e.,
that are performances in a way), are sketched out in a scrunched-up prose
broken into lines that looks like poetry:
"peace and harmony vs destraction to destruction.
language from - mortality inspired fear,
creates desire for - unification via language."
Bunting's intentions border on piracy, so his venture into radio with a
project called cybercafe FM seems only natural. Surfers can tune in that day
via the telephone and effect the broadcast.
Bunting uses the Web as an interface to create private networks among friends,
acquaintances and total strangers. Surfers fill out forms to call someone up,
send a postcard… or write an email with a message that's already been sketched out.
My favorite is the Tokyo subway sign project. Bunting introduces the
idea behind it with these words:
"when I arrived at the airport there were lots of people holding up sings
with peoples names on them. there was not one for me, this made me a little sad."
Surfers can fill out Webs form with a message for somebody at
a specified subway station in Tokyo; a sign will be held up
for them and the message delivered. You can check the results, and the one
right at the top…
"to: the suited man
from: Goeff in Derby
message: Im sorry about yesterday, perhaps we can try again.
Do you think you are doing the right thing?"
Heath Bunting is reminding us with a sly wink of the vital human need of the
unexpected. And its often hilarious results.