QAR's open call for entries and our seach of the web uncovered 21 sites from Australia, Canada, England, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden and the U.S. Jurors were asked to select pieces which they would recommend to our visitors. Considerations included the overall design, visual quality, content, and the artists' use of the Web as a medium of expression.
We would like to thank the members of the jury: Aaron Betsky, Curator of Architecture and Design, SFMOMA, San Francisco; Shu Lea Cheang, video artist and Cyber Homesteader, Amsterdam; Alex Galloway and Rachel Greene, Rhizome Communications, New York; Ed Gilbert, Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco; and Robert Atkins, author/critic, New York.Robert Atkins
"The Wild West"
I've long admired Robert Clark's inventive, Tom of Finland-esque drawings. His impossibly butch and buffed guys are deliciously goofy; only a curmudgeon could resist laughing with--rather than at--them. Now Clark has cleverly animated his subjects and they don't feel a bit re-purposed. What moves is not the body part we'd necessarily expect to wiggle and the results are surprisingly, well, moving. Gentle irony makes Clark's site a surprisingly loving, yet knowing tribute to classic gay iconography.
Is there a queer--specifically Lesbian--sensibility? Based on the QAR submissions, Lesbians are drawn to linear, image/word amalgms. Closer, perhaps, to the tradition of concrete poetry, than to avant-garde, technophilic web works. Celine Godberson's site aims to evoke the "wonder" she literally presents against a starry-skyed backrop. Her sexy, earnest, funny work also pays conscious hommage to the tele-novella, the comic strip, and--perhaps most crucially--Walt Whitman.
I felt that the interface of pills was effective as a visual device, and had a direct and very poignant connection to the narrative of "Ian's" illness. Though the writing was not always spectacular, it was effective and to the point. The whole site felt as if it was conceived with a clear purpose, a well-developed sense of what the visual logic of it should be and how it should develop. It used the medium in a way that the designers could not have achieved in a magazine, book or video. I found it intriguing, effective and, at times, even beautiful.
I was intrigued by "Roundabout," but felt somewhat naive. Is this supposed to be a cruising site? The clarity and slightly mysterious nature of the site formed an effective structure for the site. I like the way the site drew us into this peculiar space, but wanted something that would hint at a world beyond (Did I not click on something? Am I too bourgeois to see the hints?).
Fantasmagoria: "In My Fantasy"
Finally, I also liked the rather sweet fantasy of "In My Fantasy." I enjoyed the combination of the photographs with the simple narrative and the straightforward graphics.
Shu Lea Cheang
"Fantasmagoria: Sexing the Lesbian Imaginary"
Six artists an attempt to work with the web medium in an intimacy layering. I appreciate the curatorial efforts.
"The Wild West"
yes, I admit I like it. Pure joy.
Michael Alstad and Harold Alegria-Ortiz's control/mutate
A site that I can see much potential as a processing site on biotech.
Catherine Opie's Untitled
Transitioning the genre of photo diary on the web. Hyperlinks are charged for (e)motion navigation.
Characterized by an interesting translation of real space onto net space, this is the strongest piece of the bunch. I like the simple narrative and point-of-view walk-through. Absence of people is nice. Even in their lo-tech simplicity, the audio clips nicely characterize different spaces under and around the roundabout. At first, I felt it was hard to navigate without feeling disoriented. At the end, the descent into the trains is satisfying, nicely understated and suggestive.
"The Wild West"
Hard core and funny, flawless comic book style illustrations. All the imagination of a 10-year-old, played out in gay-boy Technicolor. I enjoyed the bathroom style humor displayed in contrast to the Robert-Crumb-turned-queer hard core pics.
"Untitled" by Catherine Opie
I like the focus on family, memory, and narrative, and how she approaches the problems of communication between generations. I like the personal, simple narrative style. She is reflective with out being pretentious. I also like her interest in the mystique of the American west and the dream of driving x-country--both of which are age-old artistic themes. The photo documentary is nice, especially when she ties it in with her grandfather's old b/w photo at the end.
They are truly unique. They are the world's first brokerage for cultural terrorism, matching funds with willing participants. Having proven themselves with the Barbie Liberation Organization and SimCopter interventions, rtmark is moving into other large-scale artistic and cultural projects. They are part of a growing group of contemporary new media art groups who embrace a corporate aesthetic.
Catherine Opie's "Untitled"
I liked the voyage metaphor in Catherine Opie's "Untitled" poetic sequence on her grandmother's trips across America. Less interactive and more linear in its use of the technology, it enters the usual male territory of the highway and its cars to describe a process of travel and discovery that is about the 'information highway', memory and female relationships.
"Women with Beards"
I also liked the "Women with Beards" site if I would be allowed to perceive it as an artistic composition rather than another web design containing information on a (very interesting) group of people. For me it can be read both as a send-up of the very active use of web-sites, ie. accessing images of women for excitement, arousal and as a serious forum for discourse on conventions of female appearance, perception and beauty.
"Swelter" embraced a lot of different styles and messages. Some I thought were successful, like the nice combinations of blocked colors in the paced sequence: Kiss-Lick-Suck. I found it to be an unexpected blend of the formal and erotic.
My preferred entry was "Positive" the collaboration between Ian Stephens and Sheila Urbanoski. I thought the pill tray was a beautiful substitute for the matrices usually provided by web-sites: the pills become icons and they each speak for the impact of the virus. The stories behind unfold in a way that is enhanced by web technology-- one has no way of expecting the depth or magnitude of the world described by the brief 'menu'.
The animations were surprisingly, consistently asocial and masturbatory. I enjoyed the disjuncture between the text and the animations. The animations hold the attention, and force the eye... and who can resist the hee-haw abjection? Very different from anything I have seen, online and elsewhere. Will haunt my mental image of cowboys for a long time.
Very moving project about HIV, deterioration and friendship. I think the interplay of text and image is pretty weighted -- the former more compelling than the latter-- but I like the way the site is visually organized around medication. And it's all pretty well contextualized -- there is a loose framework about their friendship, so the visitor understands how and why the collaboration took place, but then Ian's poetry and experience are really it's foci.
"Women with Beards"
Heard about this project or seen email from WWB over a year ago, but the site's dated technology and design weren't significant detractions. The euro-ness with various languages, and the BBS both appealed to me. While the project claims to retrieve women with beards away from a freak-show niche, it's not so serious about that agenda. Rather, the vibe is light, fun, and democratic. I like that the creators make use of the Internet in a broad, simple way, just using html technology. This project took me all over the place -- I followed links to sushi homepages, erotica, hypertext of Alice in Wonderland. I had a lot of fun exploring this collection of bearded, constructed identities.
Fantasmagoria: "Girlie Movies"
I liked Shu Lea's suggestion of linking to the whole Fantasmagoria site, but I liked this project a lot. Of all of the storytelling, poetic, image-text projects, I felt this one was the most tender. The schizophrenic versions of Bradley's sexuality were divided up nicely, though I was unable to get the full sensual story since I couldn't get the real video/audio components. (I have the plug in, but was told by c.p.u. that the file wasn't in "real" format.)