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An Artist's Impression

Original Proposal

This is the first proposal relating to AAI, which we successfully submitted in 1997 to the influential BBC2 TV programme 'The Net'.....

This proposal is a development of the exploration we have been making into the potential of the WWW as a site for artistic production and source for experimentation and (influence) in our work practice. In A Hypertext Journal(1996), we tried to approach the net specifically as visual artists - distinct from the parameters of the writer or documentary producer.

During its' production we were perhaps most surprised by our involvement with the purely text-based aspects of the web: A number of brief but influential IRC sessions served to influence the project in a profound way, and text-based communication (mainly via email) proved to be the staple source material shaping the project. We have come to see this communication as central to on-line life.
Parallel with the desire to develop this area of our practice has been the work we've done on projects that centre on the web, 'live' communication and production but also move aspects from this space out into a real world environment (at times the gallery, but also into events and other public 'happenings'.

What we would like to propose for the NET is that we embark on a collection of experimental works around the world of MUDs MOOs & MUSHes - chats and other on-line text -based communities, perhaps the least visual areas of the net. We are interested in the fact that these environments essentially belie normal 'documentation': It is impossible to photograph, film or even transcribe the 'events' in any familiar way as they are not only text-based but occurring in many 'places' and across time. This means that to even the majority of web users they remain a closed environment, yet they contain highly evocative descriptions of visual, sensual spaces as well as complex human interactions.
We are proposing to build up a number of 'artists impressions' of these spaces - these could be seen as analogies to religious paintings or court room sketches - where the role of the artist is to visualise a space which may have a place in the public imagination but no perceivable form.

We would like this exploration to work in two directions: Firstly we plan to develop visual material based on existing MUDs and MOOs. This might take a number of diverse forms: 'maps' of the spaces, impressions of the landscapes, or more performance based work using 'actors' and transcribed 'conversations'. Secondly we would like to work on developing a new text based environment - adopting the role of the artist as 'host' and exploring how essentially visual thinkers might operate in this area. All the work would be presented on the web, developing the approach we began with HOMESPUN: The site would function as a focus for the different 'pieces', other creative material specific to the WWW, and provide a context for the piece as a whole. There would also be space for 'straight' documentation, feedback and announcements relating to the text based world and real 'events'.

We would like to work in collaboration with the NET team in developing possible links with the television programme. We wish to consider ways in which 'seeds' or influences linked to the text based worlds / web site could be broadcast via the programme, in order to provoke, as well as attempting to document activities in these areas.