Judith Donath: A website is a virtual neighborhood. It is an information space that gathers people with common concerns and interests, or in the case of a project, a common task to accomplish. Certainly a website can be a repository of information, a fast efficient method for international publication. Yet a website can be much more: it can evolve as it is used and it can be a center of activity and communication. My focus in this workshop will be on the social aspects of designing websites as project tools. How do the participants get to know each other?
Victoria Vesna: We will examine and critique a number of existing web sites, working towards a deeper understanding of the impact of visual representation, anonymity, pseudonymity, ephemerality, etc. on the social norms that evolve within the site The web is a communal, collaborative public space – how do we contribute to this environment without uploading yet another static documentary of work? What kind of effect does existing software, and the speed with which we access resources, have on the interaction and aesthetic of web-based projects? What happens to work that attempts to bring the web into physical public spaces? In what ways do online works need to be modified when taken offline? How might the space work is experienced in influence audience interaction, and how may web projects reinforce local community relations? In this workshop, I will give a conceptual overview of available web technologies, and how they are being un/succesfully used in both on and offline projects. I will address the aesthetics of navigation and interactivity in effort to illustrate how one prepares for using the web as the primary location of a project, as well as a secondary site to projects that exist outside of networks. We will view and critique works that reside solely on the web, as well as projects done with other media that have a web component as part of their concept. Our discussion will also focus on the changing relationship between artist/audience, and how this tranformation effects both on and offline spaces. By placing our discussion in a larger historical framework of artists working outside the confines of institutions, we will discuss the implication of the web on public exhibition/interaction processes.
Nik Williams: The internet is a primordial soup of opportunity and change comprised of competing protocols, platforms, hacks and cracks. Beyond its physical structure, the internet speaks to our deeply rooted desire as a species to extend its capacity to communicate intimately across an ever widening venue. This an egalitarian, universal quest which is tempered increasingly by the local laws of supply and demand. No matter how you feel about the socio-political ramifications of so called “market driven” problem solving, the fact is that the structure of the internet is shaped by economic interests willing to spend whatever it takes to dominate and/or facilitate the nature of art and popular culture in the next millennium. Many “cybernauts” jumped on this helter skelter bandwagon bright-eyed, open-hearted and flush with ideas waiting to be loosed on a receptive, like-minded world. Some have been buoyed by success, others are less enthusiastic. Will we generate the requirements for sustainable, intelligent life on the net or will the forces of greed and corporate entropy pull the evolution of what some have called the greatest democratic tool ever created into the black hole of mediocrity? Taking the state of the network as a given is not unlike the reaction of a patient who is diagnosed with a serious illness. It might be bad news but thank heaven one has insurance. I hope to encourage the examination of some root misconceptions regarding the capacity of the net to deliver dreams in tact and to discuss issues which will effect the quality of life our network communities might hope to achieve. Suffer not the slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune 500 companies. Understand a little more about how tools are made, what art requires of all of us and put aside the notion that 18 hour days make you a better anything.
Remark: this ISEA96 Workshop was organised in co-operation with The Netherlands Design Institute and held at the Institute in Amsterdam.
- Judith Donath
- Victoria Vesna, USA, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
- Nik Williams