August 17- 23, 2003
"The Bot (one infesting the horse)," by Amy Alexander, is one of a series of net-art projects using the idea of Internet bots or spiders to crawl through text-based files, creating a "narrative of the web". The meaning of "Bot" here is a combination of an abbreviation of the word "robot" and the word "bot," as in "the larva of a botfly, especially one infesting the horse," hence the title.
The Bot is a combination of search engine technology and--due to the interpretative visual and sound elements which search engines usually don't have--a web browser. The user enters a search term as a starting point and the Bot performs a search for URLs containing that search term. Next, the Bot selects a page and uses some text on it to display (by both scrolling it either horizontally or vertically across the screen) and reads the text out loud.
Without its database (which is the Internet and user interaction), the Bot could not exist because, alone, it has no content. The Bot is a project that could only exist on the Internet. It is about the journey taken and the text compiled as a result of that journey.
Creating a unique documentation of the path traversed, the bot certainly addresses the question of what a narrative is, in a database medium. How do we reconcile the database and narrative, which by definition is "a continuous account of the particulars of an event or transaction; a story," classically assumed to progress in an ordered pattern, as defined by a human author? Here, the author is a machine, a program and the patterns it follows are literal, with no capability for the abstract. Yet, its programming and its rules were defined by a human author as an open set of patterns. So, the machine author has a human author; and we haven't even begun to consider the users who become authors the instant they enter the search terms!
:: Garrett Lynch ::
Originally published on 08/08/03
Alan Sondheim is well known for his work with the intersection of text and code, but, as of late, he's been compiling these strange, beautiful executables and posting them to lists like Webartery and Wryting. The executables can be found at http://www.asondheim.org/portal/.
These rare pieces of art-ware from a well-known master net-worker are intriguing, to say the least. My favorites are the works comprising the Archaea series. Gorgeous images are subjected to mathematical processes; they're distorted, erased, drawn over.
As software art, they expand current conceptions about what software is and what software does.
:: Lewis LaCook ::
Originally published on 08/08/03
The following is a special report on my stay at Merida, Yucatan between July 11 -17, 2003, where I participated in the opening events for InteractivA 03. Please forgive the extra long posting, but the necessity of sharing the experience demands the extra lines of text.
Raul Ferrera-Balanquet recently released the website for Interactiva New Media Biennale 2003 taking place at MACAY in Merida, Yucatan; however, the event was officially launched on July 11. I traveled to Merida to be part of the opening events, and what I experienced was one of the most amazing times of my life.
When I arrived at MACAY in late morning, to my surprise, there was nothing set up at the museum. Raul Ferrera-Balaquet, the curator, explained the political situation to me and other artists. To keep this report brief, Raul had problems with the museum; apparently, the institution had promised funding for proper equipment throughout the preparation of the exhibition, but, at the last minute, nothing came through; and Balanquet ended up borrowing computers from friends around town. All of the artists who traveled to Merida, as well as local participating artists, helped Raul and the Museum staff in preparing for the opening that was to take place that evening; and somehow, the show went up in one afternoon. And so, the people who showed up that evening were unaware of the sweaty afternoon hours of hard labor behind the computer set-ups and installations. The opening was a success; however, everyday was a struggle at the exhibition.
The next day it rained, and the equipment had to be taken down in order to protect it from the semi-open roof. And every other day the computers needed to be set up again. Regardless, there were extremely important presentations during each evening. People who presented, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, include (in alphabetical order): Laura Carmona, Arcangel Constantini, Monica Costa Coldwell, Antonio Dominguez & The Restate Media Collective, Heidi Figueroa, Gita Hashemi, Ricardo Loria, VJ Mud, Kathleen Ruiz, Sarah Plant and Michael Yatsevitch. All of the artists worked hard with Raul to make the exhibit work each day. And I can say that, at least to my knowledge, at no point during our visits to the museum or the evening events did an official administrator come up to us to welcome us officially. The institution stayed away from us as much as possible.
So why was this event amazing for me? Because I re-learned something that the web made me forget for a while -- that even for New Media, what is important is to physically gather and meet people. It is not enough to be online and consider oneself part of a community. I believe, now more than ever, that an effort must be made by New-Media artists to meet in physical spaces; even more so when institutions are crumbling down with the current global economic state. Of course I knew this, but I had forgotten its importance, even when I know of crucial gatherings like The Next Five Minutes or local events in Los Angeles such as AIM or Freewaves. Artists must do what needs to be done, which is to make work; and this is exactly what happened in Merida. I met and worked with amazing people, and I am glad I visited. New Media is an odd space running between physical and virtual worlds; and because of its slipperiness, the medium must be nurtured in both spaces. I hope there is an InteractivA 2005 --there must be! It can only get better. Even without an official institution to host it, the artists can and must do it.
:: Eduardo Navas ::