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Editorial    by Royce Carlson

January 9, 2000

The Web as Art Medium

When artists get a hold of new technologies, fun things happen. With the advent of the World Wide Web, new opportunities to display art are appearing as well as the idea of the Internet and web pages as art media in themselves.

Multimedia artists and poets use Web pages to display their "cyber-poetry," often using the written word, images, animation and sound. Some are interactive where the viewer gets to participate in the show by moving a mouse over text and images creating changes in the display. More than just rudimentary animation, these sites use the Web page as an art medium as well as a way to get their art out to the world. Web sites have been created that are complete multimedia presentations where one page leads to the next in intriguing "slide shows." Superbad.com is a bizarre collection of animated pages that are randomly connected so your visit is different every time.

Some artists are using the activity and inter-activity of the Internet as materials in creating their art. The random sampling of data traveling the Web produces some interesting, dynamic effects. The Digital Landfill, for example, collects your unwanted e-mail, scrambles them and presents them in a dynamic display. Another artist has set up an array of physical lights (somewhere in Japan) that you can control via the Internet. The Light on the Net Project lights are displayed in a public place and flash and blink under the control of anyone in the world who wants to affect the display.

Another unusual artistic use of the Web is to take familiar Web site and browser elements and present them as abstract computer art. If you submit your URL to The Shredder it chops up your site text and graphics and returns a somewhat randomly generated "shredded" image that can be quite interesting. Donít be frightened by a visit to Snarg as it presents a series of images and animation that make you think your computer has gone crazy. Submit your IP address to Music of the Internet and listen as it creates online a fractally generated music based on your entry.

As new Internet hardware and software enter the marketplace, you can be sure that artists will take these technologies and present even more fascinating and bizarre art for your enjoyment.

Below is a brief list of what I think are some of the best Web Art and Cyber-Poetry sites listed in Zenzibar. Be aware that you may need the latest version of your browser and you may also need visual and audio software like Shockwave or RealAudio (both download-able over the Internet) in order to view some of these sites.

Already mentioned above:
Digital Landfill
Light on the Net Project
Music of the Internet
Snarg
The Shredder
Superbad.com

Other cool web art sites:
Our Tears - an older cyber-poetry piece, but still one of the best out there. Turn up the sound on your computer for this one. ShockWave is required.
Cyberpoetry - Weak Blood - A good example of cyber-poetry
Endless1 - A friend of mine does this site. Simple and elegant.
Zenzibar Cyber-Poetry Category - more cyber-poetry links.


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