david barrett: online artworks
I first learned HTML in 1996 as a post-graduate student at the Slade School of Art, London. Since then I have been making online artworks in parallel with my offline practice. As you will see, my online works are extremely simple in their execution.
To find out more and view each work, click on the titles below.
In the Minority, 1999
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An ongoing list of minorities. Read between the lines.
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A similar set-up to 1-2 (see below), but this time the work is set to load 100 files one after the other as fast as possible. The speed and regularity of the loading rhythm is essentially a display of the computer's connection to the remote server - like a pulse.
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This piece consists of two pages which, once loaded, are set to bounce back and forth between each other. A very simple piece.
The idea was to bring the browser interface activity to the fore - some browsers show virtually nothing with this piece! - and to turn that activity into a continuous rhythm.
This is perhaps my most minimal piece, which is saying something. I consider this piece to be an online equivalent of classic Minimalism, which attempted to deflect the viewer's attention away from the work itself and onto the surrounding display environment.
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A scrolling list of all of the organisations in the London 'Yellow Pages' whose names begin with the word 'British'.
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This project was produced as part of my residency at the Leigh City Technology College, which is just outside London. I spent a week working with students in the Art department, introducing them to the net as a medium for making art, teaching them basic HTML, and producing this work. The student's had been set a project on the theme of time capsules, so I tackled the same project alongside them as a net artist.
The resulting work was an attempt to 'freeze' websites. Because websites are continually updated, I decided to download various sites during the time of the residency and present them on the LCTC website as archived files, slowly slipping out of date. I chose a mixture of news-related sites and stangnant, informational pages.
Unfortunately, part of the site was removed by the college soon after the residency was completed. This was because one of the sites that I had captured (the official England World Cup site) contained a chatroom with some unsavoury comments. The whole site has now been removed from LCTC's server, resulting in the loss of all of the archived sites. I am now hosting the remainder of the project here, which at least gives a flavour of the project.
Note: The Phoenix symbol that I used was taken from the Leigh City Technology College logo.
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The light at the end of the tunnel.
Please note that Netscape Navigator was the browser of choice when I made this, and screen sizes were a lot smaller in those days! Also, Microsoft was running its 'Where do you want to go today?' advertising campaign, which was splashed all over its home page.
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One of my favourite online works, this is exactly what it says it is: a web page one square mile in size.
I made this work at the Slade, which is near Euston station in London. Sitting in the Slade's digital media studio, I really enjoyed the fact that the other end of my web page was at King's Cross station down the road.
When I first made this work it crashed most people's computers because of the huge processing it required. And when it did actually load successfully, there was a prominent lag if you tried to move across the page by dragging the scroll tools. Today's computers should have less problems with it.
If you don't understand the pinstripe introduction page, I should mention that London's financial district, the City of London, is known colloquially as 'the square mile' (because that's how big it is).
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This began life as a book project and later became a web-based work. Its subtitle is 'Travelling by Map and Photocopier' and it took place over the course of one working day.
Essentially, this is an office-based safari, whereby I attempted to visit ten african countries simply by enlarging portions of a 1:29,000,000-scale map of each country until they were 1:1-scale. The resulting 'landscapes' and the 'creatures' that populated them were simply the result of massively enlarged photocopier blips and dust.
I was interested in the fact that we assume we 'know' the world, simply because we have vast amounts of information at our fingertips. However, when you look at it closely, much of this data is either selective, or is made up of mistruths and errors. Basing opinions or decisions on such information can have a catastrophic effect - although we don't always see the results of these decisions.
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My first true online work. A deliberately crude, actual-size remaking of classic monochrome paintings.
I wanted to show how much was lost in translation - the limitations of the screen as a medium. I was also interested in relating screen-based objects to a 'real life' scale, in other words giving screen objects a physical presence. (This was something I also explored in The Square Mile, above.)
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My first online artwork. It is a simple text-based work that had previously existed as a single sheet of laser-printed A4 paper. The web seemed the right home for it.
It consists of a paragraph of the Old Testament, which refers to an historical genocide: An ethnic group known as the Gileads slayed thousands of members of another race called the Ephraimites, a people that the Gilead's could only distinguish by the way they pronounced certain words.
I took the passage and passed it through Microsoft Word's internal grammar and spelling checker. The artwork simply presents the original text and the software's resulting recommendations (based on its preference for American business English).