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<nettime> GRAVITY - interview with the artist
olialia on Thu, 12 Jun 2003 05:06:35 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> GRAVITY - interview with the artist




This interview is also available at http://art.teleportacia.org/


                         G R A V I T Y



Since January 2003 Dragan Espenschied was the Art.Teleportacia
artist in residence.

He was really involved in gallery life and participated a lot in
intensive discussions we usually have here about starry night
and outer space backgrounds, horizontal and vertical scrolling,
modern linking strategies. He literally brought new colors to
Art.Teleportacia windows and scrollbars and forced us to rethink
and remake the structure of the gallery. And it was a great
pleasure to collaborate with him on Zombie & Mummy[1] episodes
which were warming our networked community through the winter.

Today I am happy to present Dragan's new work GRAVITY[2]. It is
made at our gallery, and also for it.

And my first question is: Why Art.Teleportacia?

     I thought that scrolling and space, the main topics of my
     new work, had always been among the main fields of
     competence and activity of this gallery.

How could it happen that in the year 2003 you made such a simple
project that is just using HTML rendering as introduced by
Internet Explorer version 3[3]?

     Due to the fact that i didn't have to write a proposal and
     to enumerate advanced technologies i would be using to make
     this piece I was completely free to make what i think is
     meaningful and beautiful.

     The pressure to be up to date with technology appears
     insane to me. It doesn't bring any more beauty or pleasure.
     Instead it creates things that are hard to understand and
     impossible to handle. So nobody can actually experience
     them beyond reading the artist's concept.

You are right. Net art works become groundless complicated
nowadays. It looks more and more that net artists are here not
to explore the net, but to invade it with new products. Not to
entertain online people, but to make them feel that their
computers are not fast enough, software is not new enough and
education they got was wrong.

In case of GRAVITY[2], the user is not asked to install
anything, no need to start it with "about", "how it works",
"register here", "Version 6 and higher" ... one should only
follow links, or better to say, to follow the logic of the page,
which will bring you to the link.

But what do you think, how far can you go with scrolling?

     Scrolling is an important part of nowadays graphical user
     interface and at the same time a powerful means of
     expression and involvement.

     It can for instance be used to tell stories, create the
     impression of space and movement, to change not only the
     position of the scrolled object but also of the spectator.
     I consider the diverse resolutions of monitors, scrolling
     and resizing windows a natural environment of computer and
     internet usage.

     But scrolling is slowly vanishing. Software like Flash
     erases the need for scrolling by its possibility of
     arbitrarily scaling and fixing the size of any graphical
     object ... it evokes the lust of designers and artists to
     produce fitting formats, like on paper or video.

     And the Open Source HTML rendering engine Gecko ignores
     width and height definitions relative to the window size
     that are higher than 100%.

     Search engine culture is also very much against scrolling.
     Only the things at the top of a web page are considered to
     be important, people that scroll down are already
     considered to be computer nerds.

When in 1996 I was making "If you want me to clean your screen
scroll up and down"[4], scrollbar and scrolling was the main
content for me. In "Some Universe"[5] I wanted the audience to
scroll instead of clicking, to make them stay long on a long
page. In Art.Teleportacia[6] itself, scrolling is the basis for
the whole design. In their new work "000 TEXT"[7] JODI use
scrolling because it won't help you anyway. Scrolling in "When I
Am King"[8] tells the story. What is the dramaturgy of the
scrolling in GRAVITY[2]?

     It is about lifting things, traveling space and revealing
     connections that will lead to the next part of the piece.
     The midi music encourages the user to adopt a stylish
     navigation practise: If you do it right, by moving
     scrollbars in a certain speed, clicking links in time and
     using back and forward buttons, it becomes an HTML music
     video.

What kind of material you used to make GRAVITY spectacular?

     I used images i found on the web, a large part of them i
     had to manipulate quite a lot so they work as objects in
     the piece. For example NASA offers many pictures of rockets
     and astronauts, so do private pages of people interested in
     space travel. These sometimes huge photographs have to be
     sized down and cutted correctly to work on top of
     background images. Classical image collection sites are
     also still useful. They have all kinds of flags, lines,
     fire.

     The music is an amateur adaption of Rozalla's 1992 UK hit
     single "Everybody's free to feel good" which can be found
     on many midi file collection sites.

     Who exactly made all these files i composed GRAVITY of is
     not traceable. Most of these files have already been copied
     and used a thousand times on the web.

     All together, the piece is 242832 bytes. With a special
     frameset construction i have all images preloaded so
     switching pages becomes smooth. The music is also put into
     this frame that stays there all the time, so it keeps on
     playing.

     I tried to keep out any form of scripting from the code,
     but couldn't avoid it completely because of compatibility
     issues.

Do you believe that online art projects should work in any
browser on any platform?

     It's not about the market, but about the artistic
     challenge. I tried to include a little reward for each of
     the different browsers i was testing the project on. For
     example Internet Explorer on Windows gets a transition
     effect, Mozilla some nice page icons.

A year ago I devoted to you Some Universe[6] - The Most
Beautiful Webpage made of star backgrounds - because i thought
you share my passion for them. Half a year ago you answered to
it with quite a critical Letter of the Cosmonaut[9]. Now you
make GRAVITY[2] where you work with outer space thematic and
aesthetic again. So, what outer space means for you?

     In the early days of the amateur WWW you could see space
     backgrounds everywhere. They served as illustrations for
     the vastness of the new medium and the fascination its
     users had with it. This sort of page design is not widely
     spread anymore, instead the clear white color of business
     dominates. But i am still fascinated by the vastness.

Why is there no email link in GRAVITY[2]?

     From our own experience with Zombie & Mummy[1] we know that
     in general the audience doesn't seem to be interested in
     communication with the creators a website, even if it is
     popular.

Perhaps people are not writing in general because they think
that artists are sort of professionals. Kind of Pro web culture.
And you can't simply drop a short note: "Thank you, nice page!"
Another explanation can be that to write an email to somebody
you don't know personally can turn back on you as a flood of
newsletters.

     Additionally i have the impression that the communities
     around weblogs are building borders in the net. Weblog
     readers would rather write something about a web site they
     have seen in the discussion facilities of their favorite
     weblog instead of writing a message to the author. And the
     poor authors have to wade through all the referrers in
     their access statistics to find out what people actually
     think about their work.

And the last question. Your plans for the future?

     Future? Why future? I thought I could stay and work here.

Yes. Sure.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

[1] http://www.zombie-and-mummy.org/
[2] http://art.teleportacia.org/exhibition/GRAVITY/
[3] http://browsers.evolt.org/?ie/32bit/3.0
[4] http://www.entropy8zuper.org/possession/olialia/olialia.htm
[5] http://de708.teleportacia.org/~james.larin/stellastar/
[6] http://art.teleportacia.org/
[7] http://text.jodi.org/
[8] http://www.demian5.com/
[9] http://a-blast.org/~drx/Letter_of_the_Cosmonaut/

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