|Rhizome.org COMMISSION 2005-2006 proposalURBAN ECHOES|
Web Art as Modern Collage
The internet aesthetic is still at the beginning of its evolution. The majority of the web remains rooted in the conventions of print media, though current technology allows for richer and more dynamic webpages. Quicktime movies stream in separate boxes, images remain square, advertisement banners look like subway posters. Browsing should be more than an information retrieving process. I believe that web-art can challenge and reinvent this tedious format.
The internet is a new medium in itself. It layers static image, text, animation, video, and sound, as well as control over the time dimension. The browser can deliver an artistic experience unlike that of any other artwork. This is a new idea, beyond using stand-alone applications or flash shorts. Rather, web-art can transform the internet into a herald of modern collage by combining different powerful media in order to achieve something none could produce alone.
My traditional training and strength is in collage. Having started by mixing ordinary materials on paper, I developed a nuanced understanding of juxtaposition and layering. This translates directly into Photoshop use, into the abstraction process in photography, and even more fundamentally into the type of web-project I am discussing.
I first explored fully multidimensional web-art with “Pause”, a predominantly abstract work consisting of four non-linear immersive environments. These pages revolved around a looping video clip, supplemented by an audio track and a flash animation subject to user input. The result was unexpectedly hypnotizing, as if the imagery had a life of its own. The color palette, the speed and direction of animation, and the audio background engulfed the user; this immersion imparted a rich emotional impression, an echo. The artwork caused such a personal response because of the fullness of the experience, shaped by multiple self-reinforcing media and possible only in the browser.
The Next Step
I plan to deepen the multimedia approach by focusing on this concept of echo in the commissioned project. Taking an open theme of “the city”, I am interested in evoking emotional impressions of urban life using abstracted imagery and audio. The full piece will consist of 7 environments with a non-linear navigation scheme, as shown on the left. Each circle represents an environment with two possible exits. This will allow for different paths and interpretations of the user experience due to different navigation sequences.
Project Realization and Technical Feasibility
I will begin work by building a library of photographs and audio samples which can be used to create the environments. For the video loops, I plan to shoot primarily in New York , and perhaps other metropolitan centers. All visual design and coding will be done personally. See the project timeline for further details.
The medium will be a web-art collage, consisting of abstract video, audio, image and text. Like “Pause”, users with a DSL or above connection will be able to seamlessly stream the project; those with a 56K and below will need to wait a few moments for the preload. “Echo” will be provided in 3 resolutions up to 1280x1024. Macromedia Flash will be necessary for viewing the piece.