> interact with the digital world
Students in the Communication Multimedia Masters' Program at Saginaw Valley State University work towards a degree that is both technical skills in multimedia creation on Web or CD-ROM, as well as theoretical grounding in communication theory.
May of these graduate students are working adults from mid-Michigan's tri-city (Saginaw, Midland and Bay City) area. About half the students currently in the graduate Communication Multimedia program are from Taiwan and southeast Asia, but I notice that none of them wanted to critique the SFMoMA site, preferring more traditional art venues like artmuseum.net. Consequently, most of the students quoted are Michigan natives.
The class taught by this author, CM 550: Human Interface and Data Representation, generally emphasizes clarity of informational content as opposed to the purposeful ambiguity of many art sites and exploratory games (Myst, Riven). For this reason the class was assigned to critique fine art sites, especially the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's "010101 Art in Technological Times", to give them an experience outside their normal communication and design concerns. This multi-artist site contains works designed for the arena of the Web by a variety of designers, none of which are the usual commercial sites of which we are all familiar (and tired!).
What follows below is the graduate students' collected comments on the "010101" pieces.
One student wrote "To be perfectly honest, before this assignment I would have never considered the web as a place for fine arts. Sure, I expected to be able to see a digital photograph of the Mona Lisa or Sunflowers, but I never really considered using the media of the web as art itself. The idea intrigues me and after reviewing all of the websites and writing on three of them, I am both disappointed and encouraged. I firmly believe that while these websites did not truly live up to the expectation I had for multimedia art, they did open my eyes to the idea in general and presented some interesting applications of the media that I think will be innovative in future design work, both artistic and commercial."
"In general, I found the ideas behind the artwork interesting but confusing. I tend to not “get art” sometimes, so I don’t know if I quite understood what I was supposed to be examining or doing with the page. Plus, I was using an older machine, so it took quite a while to get to the pages."
To some the interface was problematic.
" When I attempted to navigate this website, I was totally lost. Everything seemed to only open randomly, and not in a timely manner. I couldn't even determine how to get from one page to the next"
Others found issues of performance the most aggravating.
" The 010101 site as a whole was a pain in the butt to get into. Too much to download and it took too much time to get everything set up just to look at the site. If it weren't assigned for class, I wouldn't have bothered to take the time and effort. Once I actually got into the site, it was interesting but confusing as to where to go and how to get to where I needed to be."
"I went to this site at 5:05 p.m. on Wednesday, January 17. A message appeared that said the server was either down or not responding. I tried again an hour later, but had the same result as we did in class. I decided to load Shockwave on to the machine I was using to see if this was the reason that I could not get to the online presentation. Loading Shockwave allowed me to get on to the site, but I had a really hard time figuring it out how to use it. Once I figured out where the User Guide was located, I used it to understand the site map of red and black pixels. I had to use this to get around the site. I never figured out what the five or six items were at the top (anonymity, technology, and so forth), but I was able to finally access the artwork."
One student described Adigard's site in detail.
" The website itself is deceptively simple. At first glimpse, the site appears to be a jumbled mess of icons and links. However, after observing for a few seconds, one can start to see a pattern developing. One icon frame moves like a second hand on a clock, while another seems to represent the minute and the third icon frame, the hour. The website seems to be only one page so it is rather difficult to get lost. However, where one does get lost is by the randomness of both the links themselves and the icons. The links that are embedded in the background link to webpages that have no unifying factor. One may lead to a document completely in Spanish, while another link takes you to a site about hammers. In this site it is difficult to judge what is an “expected response”. If the expected response is that the link would open up another browser, then yes, it does. However, if the expected response is to open a browser to a link that one would associate with the link name (ex.: link named “thehartford.com” browser opens website on rail cars instead of say, insurance), then no. As a matter of fact, it seems that the links in the background do not open even to the same link every time. "
Adigard's site made use of the metaphor of a clock
"The visual components reminded me of clock with a bad background. The background looked like wallpaper made of bright blue with repetitive words typed on it in black and white. There was a great amount of contrast. On the right hand side there appeared to be a tool bar with a color spectrum in it. On the page itself were three small boxes with images in them. Most of the images were low quality."
"The small boxes moved in a way that symbolized a clock. The images inside the small boxes were sometimes animated in short choppy segments. Often the boxes would get larger and even sometimes fill the screen."
Students were somewhat put off by the ambiguity of the navigation.
"This site was not the easiest to navigate until I learned how to open the text boxes which explained what to look for. I never really knew where I was and did not get an expected response until I played with the dots/squares/etc. for awhile.
" This site was not easy to navigate. I could not tell if the large, underlined text was link or background. I thought that I always knew where I was at because nothing seemed to take me anywhere else. At first I expected the underlined text to be links. I tried them, but they did not take me anywhere. "
"I found it very hard to navigate the site. I never knew what it wanted me to do. It seemed that whenever I clicked on anything on the page I would get kicked off and need to reload from the beginning. Often I didn’t know where I was, and I never got an expected response. "
" There wasn't much to the navigation to this site with its "what's behind window number 2?" style, but the Macro, Local, and Micro buttons in a bar on the right side of the screen were interesting in that they didn't have to be clicked on in order to change the size of the windows that float around the screen, but rather just had to be pointed at. When these floating windows were clicked on, the viewer was taken to a particular Web site, but is only given a small window that cannot be expanded. After some time, the viewer can come to expect which windows take him or her to which Web site."
"How easy is it to navigate the site? Do you always know where you are? Do you always get an expected response?"
"Timelocator is extremely difficult to navigate. The viewer never knows where they are going, and when you get there you don’t know why you are there . . . you never get an expected response. I found the whole experience very frustrating."
"Navigation of the site was mediocre. I was confused in finding the first design on the page, but after I figured it out the others came easy. Responses were usual, although the content kept me wondering."
Students were not impressed with Adigard's visuals.
"The visual components of this website were difficult for me to focus on. I kept thinking there was something wrong with me as I was unable to see something in particular...never received a complete picture."
"As time passes, the look of this website changes. When one first arrives, the background is white. But as time goes on, it gradually gets darker and darker. Perhaps this is to signify life, starting out fresh and clean, but as it goes on it becomes soiled with time. As I stated in the previous paragraph, the initial feel is confusing: icons flashing and moving, icon sizes changing depending on where your mouse is on the screen, and other images popping up on screen offer the viewer an unorganized first impression. However, after visiting this site several times and after staying longer than thirty seconds, I began to adjust my viewpoint to better understand its motions. "
"The visual components of this site consisted mainly of the floating windows that flashed and turned with artistic images. They were interesting and had a correlation to the Web site that it takes the viewer to if clicked on. The motion of the floating windows made the site interesting and game-like, but became annoying after a while."
"This site uses a combination of text, graphics and animation. The background was bright red with large, underlined text which appeared to be military time and the address of other sites. Graphics appeared sporadically on the page and often changed size and content. Down the right side was a color bar. I was not sure of its purpose."
"The look of the site is good, and I like the way the images change at random, but I think I must be missing a plug-in or something because I don’t see what the author describes in the introduction."
" The look of the page at first was nothing out of the ordinary. Then as each page was opening, the look changed into something morbid. The layout was easy to understand but the content on the pages was very different."
Students examined the use of motion:
"The graphics were animated to pop up, move, change size and switch the image."
"Motion was gradual as things scrolled by, and was animated. It was here I discovered the way to scroll up/down/sideways, by placing my pointer at the top, bottom, or either side of the site."
"Motion is used by having the three main icons frames move in motion much like clock. Animation is used in the icon frames. This animation seems to be random while the visual images have no obvious connection to each other or the website itself.
"Although the strange sounds worked well with the graphics, the site wasn't something I was interested in. The use of motion was minimal and I thought more could have gone into this."
At the end they had mixed feelings about what they had experienced.
"I wasn't really sure what the purpose of this site was. By the time I discovered how to maneuver around it, I had forgotten what the introduction said about the purpose. I think it was about structure and timing." By "purpose" this studentmay mean "concept".
"I honestly do not know what the purpose of the site was other than to show what other things one could have been doing with their time from the images in the boxes. If that was the artist’s purpose then it worked, but I feel that this wasn’t the purpose. "
"I felt that the site left anyone who stumbled upon it clueless to what the site is about and how it is to be used."
"It appears as though the artist’s purpose was to merely show another concept of keeping time. The reason behind the randomness of website links and graphics used are beyond my comprehension. To this end I think the artist accomplished his work in creating an alternative way to keep time, but failed to relate his choice of randomness to the audience."
"To be perfectly honest, the first time I saw the website I jotted down the note, “Worst website I’ve ever seen.” However in all fairness, I come from a business background and automatically assume all websites should be orderly and clear to use. This site was not. However, after making the mental adjustment to art instead of business, the site grew on me. Although I am still not convinced of its artistic genius, I do appreciate the different approach Adigrad took to the concept of time."
"I am not sure if sound was working properly on this machine. The only sound that I heard resembled a high-pitched bird or the sound of metal pieces scraping together. Perhaps this was to give the user the impression that things are moving and information is traveling quickly. "
"The artist’s purpose was to explore the notion of local and remote time. This idea was represented by the linked elements of the site. I do not think this was accomplished successfully because I never understood if I was supposed to click on something or just enjoy the show. "
" I don’t think I understood this site. Getting there was confusing and I stayed confused once I reached it."
"The feel of this site is how I feel when my wife is driving. I’m not in control, I don’t know where I’m going, and I fear that we may crash at any moment.
"The intro says that the new interface explores the notion of local and remote time by turning time into linked images. I don’t feel that the artist succeeded, I never made the connection of time and image in this work of art. "
"If my computer and plug-ins were functioning properly, and that’s a big “IF”, then I felt cheated by the work. I expected more."
"Didn't quite get the purpose of this one. I just knew it was something I was not at all impressed with or interested into seeing more of. The artist didn't project the purpose of this site to me very well."
"Yikes! This is art?!"
One student described this team's site in detail.
" This site requires plug-ins and minimum requirements which, luckily, my computer already has. Though not as simple as Time Locator, Garden.Eden 1.0 starts in a linear pattern. It gives the basic introduction of Adam and Eve, complete with Biblical references. Once the linear introduction is complete and a url is selected, we are presented with the two individuals, Adam and Eve. According to the instructions, the right side of the keyboard controls Adam, while the left controls Eve. As the site reads the url’s contents, it makes the characters move according to the letters it reads."
"The visual components of this website are simple and unpredictable. A story of the beginning of the "Garden of Eden" unravels in the script across the bottom of the screen."
Students examined the use of sound.
"Sound is used very subtlety in the work. Background effects like crickets and soft music set a serene type of feeling. There is also a voice that reads the words that appear on the screen but it almost unintelligible, taking away somewhat from the use of sound. The motion of the characters I described above are accompanied by the movement of zebras, hawks, and eagles. I should note here the attention to detail when the birds fly overhead, their shadow appears on the ground."
"The sound was repetitive music with a voice over. The voice was perhaps explaining something but I could not understand it. Animal sound effects over the music and voice over corresponded with the animals on screen. All the figures on screen were animated along with some of the text. There were a lot of pauses, possibly for the purpose of the art or slow loading by the computer."
"Sound is used as a backdrop to the unfolding story. The manner in which the music is used kind of reminds me of the purpose of the music in "2001 A Space Odyssey".
Students examined the use of motion:
" Motion is used gracefully, sparingly, through animation."
"The characters’ movements are erratic and, according to the instructions, are allegedly based on popular video game movements. The difficulties in controlling the movements of the characters is eased somewhat by the ability to easily view the surrounding area using the arrows keys. By moving the arrow keys in their four directions, we are able to move through the environment. Though not able to fully control the characters, it is possible to explore the site more using the arrow keys."
"The opening sequence is rather dark, approximating “The Beginning” and the opening text comes at us, giving background information of the story. We are then immersed in the environment created. The environment of “Eden” is the most important part of the work. The environment is designed to reflect the design of the url we choose at the beginning. For example, when an embedded object is present in the url’s page, the image of an elephant appears in the “Eden” environment. Scrolling through several urls gives Adam and Eve new environments for each page."
The graduate students studied the concept behind it.
" This seemed to be a piece about Adam and Eve and how we were created according to the Bible.
"The purpose of this work (and that of Mark Napier’s The Shredder) is to make a “normal” website the object of art. However, Garden.Eden 1.0 differs because instead of breaking down individual components of another website, it uses those components to create an entirely new environment for its characters. Though the graphics are pretty primitive to other sites and the movements of the both Adam and Eve are frustrating to watch, the concept of the website is original and I think their purpose is accomplished by turning a common website into a new representation in their world."
"This website was much different from Time Locator in so far as giving instructions on the meaning of its graphics and a linear introduction. The introduction helped set up the feel for the site that seemed to make things go easier. All in all I found it a great idea and I look forward to seeing more advanced versions of this design."
Some students responded positively to its ambiguity.
"The artists' purpose in this work was to investigate ways to navigatein a "data maze" situation, without having obvious pathways and connections. I think their purpose in this work was accomplished because I never could figure out where things would unfold."
There remained some frustrating interface and behavior issues
" I had to install the Pulse 3D plug-in before I could begin. The navigation was ok except there did not seem to be a lot of places to go. There were a lot of pauses for loading the graphics. We were notified of this by the web-like part at the top and bottom of the screen. I did not always get the expected response, specifically when we could move the figures with arrow and function keys. The figures seemed to do the opposite of what they were directed. "
"The art being surrounded by the web look was more distracting than it was helpful as to where we were or what was loading. The web information at the bottom seemed to be cut off yet you could not scroll down to see anymore of it. The text that was in the URL type boxes was also cut off."
" I am not positive I saw everything. Some mouse-overs or direction of some kind would have helped lessen my confusion. Also, if the web-like top and bottom was part of the art then some sort of countdown as to how long the animation will play before it is complete would be helpful so the viewer will know if they leave in the beginning middle or end of the piece."
"To me the success was hampered by the fact I was impatient for objects to load and something to happen because there did not seem to be much for the viewer to do but wait."
" It took a long time to download but once it did, I went to "Follow Link" and discovered more activity in "the garden." The responses were never expected in this site."
The New Place 2001,
There were mixed experiences with this piece's navigation.
"Site navigation was OK and I usually knew where I was at, especially once the earth neared and began to show what was in (on) the planet. I did not always get an expected response."
"This site was very hard to navigate. The viewer had little control and that which he or she had was confusing. The viewer starts out with a screen of circles with what looks like rocks floating around them. When pointed at, different colors appear between the circles. All of them look as though they can be clicked on, but only two actually can be. One takes the viewer to the artist's old site and the other to his latest one. After finally arriving at the latest one-the one for MOMA-the confusion continues. The bar at the bottom of the screen with icons representing different stories with animation cannot
be used to navigate. But once a story is viewed, the icon for the story is colorized. While viewing the animation, the viewer has no control to stop it and is only allowed to click at a certain time during the animation, which will move the view in closer and finish the story. If it is not click, the story will not finish. Once clicked and finished, the viewer is automatically taken into the next story. In essence, the viewer has no control.
"The navigation structure was easy, but the time it took to go from one navigation option to the next was excruciatingly slow. I can appreciate the visual imagery and beauty of this site, but get on with it already! I always knew where I was in this site, I just couldn’t get anywhere fast enough. Maybe I’m too critical of this, or maybe my computer was just not powerful enough, but the beautiful imagery couldn’t make up for the slow navigation."
" To start it is a little confusing because as far as I could tell you can only choose ‘New Place’ or ‘Hard Way’ although there is a mouse-over over all seven topics. You do not know whether to choose ‘New Place’ or ‘Hard Way’ first. If you choose ‘New Place’ first you get continuous animation with a story/poem and what seems to be a list of characters on the bottom. You cannot click on anything else. You can close the screen but then you cannot see anything else from Ritchie unless you go to the very beginning of the site and choose ‘Hard Way’ instead of ‘New Place’. With ‘Hard Way’ there is a lot of interactivity with no confusing mouse-overs and more options because the screen that ‘Hard Way’ brings up has the standard web tool bar that ‘New Place’ does not."
"This page was very web-like because it contained mouse change-overs and/or clickable text was underlined. Also to see more you had to click on some text or an object so it is interactive yet what you see depends on your choices. "
The site was thought to be visually conservative, yet makes use of motion.
"The look of the website was simple, not only in structure and shape, but in color...no bright colors dominated the site.
"Motion was used in the animated form of the earth, and its' contents."
"The artists' purpose of this work was to portray the start of an investigation, "...a preview of things to come in the interactive domain ."
" The short paragraphs that went along with the animation were poetic and made a nice combination."
" This piece consisted mostly of text and stills. Animation could be found in ‘New Place’. That animation was continuous and it was not clear when it was finished."
" The animation for the stories of this site was really well done and was very nice to look at."
"The visual imagery is very nice. The narrative story that unfolds is enjoyable as well. "
"The feel of this site is very tranquil, very relaxed. The animation is very nice; the visual changes are very smooth and engaging. I experienced no audio with any of the three web projects I viewed. I don’t know if it was a technical problem or what, but a nice soothing music backdrop would have been wonderful for this site."
"I liked this site, but I think the artist needs to do a better job of engaging the viewer without frustrating them at the same time."
Its conceptual underpinnings demanded some thought.
"I do not no exactly what the artist was going for here."
"The purpose seemed to be to detail humans’ progression in time. The interaction, familiar web-type components and layout and the decent navigation made the piece successful because viewers could look at the art without wondering too much about if they were doing what they should."
"This site was very similar to any site because you would have to spend a lot of time with it in order to see everything. To a certain degree every viewer could potentially see something different."
"I don’t think we know what the artist has in mind for us yet, I think this may be only the beginning of a larger project. The intro states that this is a beginning of a large investigation and a preview of things to come in the interactive domain."
was felt to have an intuitive structure and interface.
" Cool, a fun site to navigate. The instructions were clear and printed right in front of me, without having to search. I knew where I was and received an expected response until began overlapping all of the boxes."
"The navigation of this site consisted of choosing Web sites to feed into the nine displays that chart, graph, and plot the data of that Web site. This is particularly easy since the artist spells out the directions for the viewer. The only other navigation was if the viewer wanted more information about the site, needed help, or wanted to contact the artist. This was also easy to do."
"This site was easy to navigate because of the clear instructions. I always knew that I was on the original page and that I was watching the destruction of code. I expected that the unraveled graphics and text would create a chaotic mess and it did. I did expect the unraveling to end, and it continued for a number of minutes."
"In the beginning, the site looks very simple. A box appears with a clear set of instructions. An address locator with stop/go button appeared at the top of the page. The background was white. After completing the instructions, an image (resembling the same image you would see when you defragment a computer) appeared and seemed to spit out pieces of graphics, text and color. The background became the unraveling of another site."
" The navigation was good. We always knew the URL, could stop at anytime and knew what was processing. It was understood that we could choose one of the nine formats but I was not always sure if I was turning them off or on. The direction box in the beginning is helpful but I wondered how I could bring it back up if I had a question later."
"There was a tool/status bar at the top where they would typically be. The presentation of the site we chose takes up the majority of the screen."
The visuals are supported by animation and motion.
"The look of the site was crisp, clear, and caught the eye with the flashing designs, and colors."
" The flashing shapes, colors, patterns, and various sizes were fun."
"The scrolling only has one speed and it is very slow. "
"The letters on the edge of the introduction text box are partially cut off."
"The text is very small, I could read it but a lot of people may not be able to."
" The visual components of this site are the boxes that chart, plot, and graph the data fed from Web sites and little versions of them along the top of the screen that are inactive and do nothing if clicked on. The site was simple, which was in stark contrast to the rest of the sites. But just because it was simple does not mean that it was not interesting. The boxes that chart, plot, and graph the data were visually stimulating.
"The look is clean and well thought out. By clicking on the top buttons the viewer can see the data represented in various (beautiful?) ways. I like the look of this artist attempt to “De-HTML” the web."
" The motion was that of the data being fed through the boxes, which as stated above, was good enough."
"I like the feel of this site, the color and motion are interesting and contrast what we normally see on a web page. Sometimes web chaos can be more fun to look at then web reality."
"There is constant motion. Different aspects of the chosen URL were always being processed. No matter which of the nine formats were running there is motion. If several or all of the formats are running there is a variety of motion yet it never felt disorienting. "
"Animation was used to show the unraveling of the site and pieces of the code being deconstructed and then reassembled on the artist’s site."
Students wrote of its concepts.
"Napiers' purpose was to show "exhilarating chaos," a feat I believe he accomplished quite well!"
" As stated in the introduction, the artist was saying something about the way information travels through the Internet and the way it is either accessed or ingnored."
" The purpose was to show different ways a site could be viewed. The same information presented in a different way has different meaning. The artist was successful because, for example, yahoo.com can be a search engine or be redisplayed into something considered art. "
" After viewing this artist once I could not get back into the site. Once I got as far as the screen where his work should have been but I only saw a gray screen and this was only after I shut every program down on my computer and restarted explorer. I also had to restart my computer in order to work in any other program after this.
Additional comments about the site as a whole"
"The first time working with this site was confusing as to how to scroll, what to click on,how to skip an introduction or even how to find the artist list. "
" Once I figured the navigation out I could appreciate the movement, lack of traditional scroll bars and menus better. "
"A major problem I continuously had was going from one artist to another. More often than not I had to close Internet Explorer and start from the beginning of the site. "
"I found his site easy to navigate once I read the “about” section. I did have a problem with one of the dialogue boxes coming up that would have solved that problem. I always knew where I was on the site. I feel this was because the site had very limited links. There actually wasn’t much to navigate."
"The site used a lot of white space giving it a professional feel. I felt that it’s set up reminded me of a combination between an art program with a tool bar at the top and a search engine. The artist used soft colors with less contrast, but once the “Feed” program starts the colors used depend upon the URL that has been typed in."
"It gave me the feel of something very high tech and electronic. The images were mainly colorful moving graphs that reminded me of something you would see on a top of the line graphic equalizer. Sound was not used on this artist’s web project."
"I believe that Mark Napier was trying to show that all the images and information that comes across the web is nothing more than colors pixels, and text. That when reduced to its simplest forms it becomes unusable to the normal person. I believe he accomplished this goal not only from the way he used the web site to show it, but also because he states it in words."
"I found the site to be fairly entertaining although there wasn’t much to it."
"The purpose of this site is to break down the standard web page into its basic components and present them to the viewer in a way that makes a statement about the way we view data and the way the computer views data. I think the artist was very successful wit this representation of computer chaos. The site was fun, informative, and a little scary . . . I can’t help but think of “HAL” (the computer in 2001 a space odyssey) when I view this site."
"The artist’s purpose was to explore the notions of tools and content. He wanted to redisplay a web page by ignoring html tags. I feel that he accomplished his goal successfully. Elements of the site appeared in a very chaotic manner as it unraveled and html (the tool) was stripped away. Perhaps he is stressing the importance of such tools as html and is in opposition to wysiwyg programs that require very little knowledge of html. He could also be making a statement about how pages display over the Internet because of such issues as platforms and browser type."
"I think I understood this site a little better. Perhaps the clear instructions made me feel more comfortable. "
"The navigation system is explained fairly well, after playing with the buttons the viewer can navigate from site to site and see how each site looks different in this strange representation of a web page."
"The look of the site was that of initially "Yahoo", and then window upon window kept opening without me doing anything."
"By using the Yahoo! homepage, we are instantly put into an environment that is familiar and comfortable to most web users. One of the things that I like best about this website is the use of another website to make its art. Thompson and Craighead’s use of Yahoo! is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s use of a Campbell’s Soup can."
"The look was of a legitimate web site. It was Yahoo with a banner that would continually appear at the top containing advertisements. The background of the ads were black adding a sort of eerie feeling. The rest of the site was done in light gray tones with bright contrasting colors. The layout reminds me of a newspaper with headlines at the top and columns and boxes throughout the rest. Small pictures are used at the top for the most used items."
"The site began as easy to navigate but eventually became "out of control." I knew where I was and thought the responses would be expected, then everything went crazy!"
Students appear to have had different experiences of the site's sound and animation.
"The feel was eerie. The sound was that of what you might hear in a horror movie to build up suspense. It was very well selected. No motion, animation, or video was used."
" I heard a soft background sound that resembled a FAX machine. Perhaps this was used to indicate that information was being transmitted. "
" There wasn't any sound [on this student's home machine], but motion became increasingly faster...out-of-control. It was animated with advertisements flashing throughout."
"Their work accomplished the goal of depicting movement and animation through various types of sound, sight, radio, etc. waves."
" I frantically attempted to close the multitude upon multitude of opening windows, before I crashed or froze up my computer (my son would have been angry!)"
Students were left decentered and unsure of their experience here.
"If I was actually using Thomson and Creighead's site, there was no real navigating to it. It simply came up as a download where you had to click yes to continue. I never did know where I was and am still not sure that what I experienced was what was intended. I didn’t get the expected response. What I did get seemed to be a bad case of “spam”. The site would continually pop different windows up until the computer would perform an illegal operation and knock me of the Internet."
"I think the artist purpose was to create a feeling that the computer has become possessed by something uncontrollable. If this was truly the goal it was a success because I was baffled for the longest time. The titles in the searches it would pull up seemed to be trying to send a message. I found it to be very weird."
"If what I experienced was what was truly supposed to happen, it really made the point. I’m just not sure that it wasn’t just some sort of computer or user error. In truth, if a was looking at this not for an assignment, when it all happened the first time I would not of come back to figure out what was going on."
"This site was the most confusing to navigate. Messages and new windows continued to pop up on the screen. I even tried using some of the back, stop and other functions of the browser, but had no luck. I never knew where I was supposed to be. I never got an expected result of any of the clicks I attempted."
" Before actually going to the site, pop up windows explain that you must close your browser after visiting the site. In the beginning, the site looks like an ordinary page of the yahoo search engine. Then little windows resembling ads appear at the top of the page. Some windows continue to leave and come back. "
Unique animation and sound were integral parts of this piece.
"Animation was used to show the new windows and ads opening and closing."
" The artist’s purpose was to reflect upon the changes brought by continuous and delocalized technology. He explored the boundaries between place and time. The notion of an e-poltergeist describes the process of developers using cookies to deliver information without our knowledge back to the original site. I think that the artist’s purpose was accomplished, but I am not sure about the level of success. I understood that the ads were delivering the cookies and that things were happening that I did not control, but I never understood if something else was supposed to be happening or if I should just watch and not try anything. "
" The site was blank for a while and eventually made the computer freeze. I do not know if this was supposed to happen or if the computer I was using was unable to handle the information overload."
"By far this was the easiest work to explore. All you have to do is sit there and watch the site unfold in front of you. There is some confusion by the constant popping up of “visit our sponsor” browsers, but not enough to not see what you need to see. Because this work uses Yahoo! as its foundation, you can actually start to use the engine to search. However, after a few seconds the experience begins as the results of an engine search not inputted by the user pops up on screen. Through these various search engine results the site tries to “communicate” by using phrases like “Is anyone there?”, “Can you hear me?” and “Help! I need Help!”. "
"Sound in this work is also very subtle. After a few seconds of the normal Yahoo! interface, a soft, low rumble is heard. The sound is probably best described as the noise you would hear in a science-fiction movie as a ship moves slowly through space. The only other sound used is a faint “beep” as the site tries to “communicate” with us. No original motion or animation is used in their adaptation of the site, only those .GIFs that originate at Yahoo.com."
Students then reflected upon the work's purpose.
"I believe the purpose of Thompson & Craighead’s work was two-pronged. The first part was to reflect how our society has moved to a more remote way of communicating by using email, faxes and the like. The second part was to also show the lack of control we have while using the Internet. This is shown by the constant opening of browsers with the “Visit Our Sponsors” advertisements. I believe these additional advertisements are brought in intentionally to show this lack of control due to the fact that if you visit Yahoo.com outside of the e-poltergeist project, no additional browsers pop up with advertisements. I feel that both purposes were achieved successfully because first, it became very evident after a few minutes that the website was trying to get our attention and give us the messages. But because of the societal conditioning that goes along with surfing the Internet, my first response was to wonder who, not what, was doing this, which I think was their point. Secondly, by the time the program had run its course, there were some twenty or thirty web browsers open. I had virtually no control over how fast they opened or if they opened at all."
"After viewing all of the sites and critiquing three of the works in 010101, I felt this one was the “best”. I deem it this for three reasons. One, it was pretty easy to understand. For me, if the art is too confusing it doesn’t deliver the message it was intended to. By using the familiar Yahoo! interface, there were really no new things to understand about the site. You could concentrate on the work itself instead of figuring out how to interact with it. Secondly, its ease of use. You could either use the Yahoo! engine as normal until the work itself started or you could just sit there and watch it unfold. Reason three is that it was an original idea. Using a search engine, which to most people is the first place to look for information, to communicate was brilliant. On top of that, as I have said earlier, it is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s work in pop culture. Turning commercial into art is a difficult task at best, but I feel they did a wonderful job of communicating both of their messages using this fairly new medium."
Two more of the artworks were explored and discussed briefly.
"Site navigation was simple. Easy to get around and you knew where to go and how to get back."
" The look of the site was fresh and exciting. Great use of colors on the home page - a but more graphics and colors were needed on the other pages."
" Sound worked very well with these pages. It corresponded nicely with what was going on. Motion was also a beneficial part of this site. Everything moved as it was suppose to and how I expected it to."
"The purpose of this site was to have fun! Each page brought life to the site. Purpose of the site was fulfilled - made me have fun and want to see what was on the other pages."
" Great site. The games reminded me of Atari!"
" This wasn't the easiest page to figure out at first. I wasn't sure when it was done downloading. Once I got into the "Savetime" page it was easier to know where you were and how to get around. I didn't always get the response I expected."
" Visually, this was a very attractive page. Great use of the entire space and I enjoyed the graphics . They stood alone, yet formed a complete design."
" Sound could have been better, nothing impressive about that. It seemed the artist spent more time on the motion, which really made the pages."
"In "Savetime" the purpose was to take you through calendars of each year shown. However, although each calendar was different, I didn't understand why."
" Great creativity and design in this site. You can tell a lot of thought went into its design and how it was going to be viewed."
Students quoted above include Alisha Beckrow., Thomas Bennett, Joe Borgstrom, Eric Bostick, Christine Kerns , Derrick McAlister, and Gina Miller. I give thanks to my Communication Multimedia graduate students for continually challenging and freshening my ideas and perceptions.
Mike Mosher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
context weblog >>> http://straddle3.net/context