Contents
Introduction
Chapter 1:
Internet Art
Chapter 2:
Institutions
Chapter 3:
Digital Weakness
Conclusion
Table of Figures
Footnotes
Bibliography
Glossary
James Hayes' art website


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The Internet introduces the possibility of completely fluid interaction with dynamic, unpredictable content. This is not possible with any other medium (save possibly music or other performance events) and has opened new doors for artists who might have traditionally worked with such concepts as automatic writing, random collage or other experimental-process type approaches to creating work. The major difference here is that with the aforementioned media the artist, during production or performance, introduces the random aspects. With the interactive elements of the Internet, truly random actions are possible based on the actions of the viewer. It is possible for each viewer to have a completely unique experience of the Internet artwork.

The third website, Potatoland by Mark Napier18 (see Figure 5 and Figure 6) incorporates just such unpredictable content amongst a collection of projects which he states "started as paintings, essays, drawings, or late night ramblings but came together in the form of hypertext and RGB graphics."19

Napier's website grows as he creates new projects to showcase. Although the majority of the work on this website follows a similar vein of Benjamin's winding maze of linked pages, amongst the collection of "ramblings" is a sophisticated piece of software which Napier developed as an art piece, Shredder.20

Figure 5 Mark Napier's Shredder in action, taking on the Microsoft website, http://www.potatoland.org/shredder/, December 2001

Shredder is browser software, which the viewer can use to surf a "shredded" version of the Internet. Websites become a visual collage of source HTML, distorted images and hyper-links, abstracting the original content and functionality down to a shredded version of the original with only the hyper-links remaining intact. In this way the user continues to surf, but loses track of any Internet information based reasoning for selecting the route taken.

The collaged pages are created on-the-fly by the Shredder browser software, and as such no two experiences of this work will be the same, as the route is controlled by the viewer and the content is dredged from the websites surfed. This is another example of the artwork negating the basic premise of the medium: that hyper-links will provide a logical train of thought type approach to information gathering. Instead the audience is presented with exactly the opposite, because the destination of any link available on the collaged page is obscured by its "shredded" and confusing layout.

Figure 6 Mark Napier's Potatoland website, with links to his many online artworks, http://www.potatoland.org/pl.htm, December 2001

by James Hayes
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