One of the basic challenges of every computer artist is managing collections of digitalized data, i.e. digital archives. Programme algorithms on the one hand arrange relations between the elements of the archive and on the other hand they attend to the meaningfulness of displayed data. Interface dimension of the digital archive attends to communication between hard logic of computerized coding of meaning - on the basis of the database and user entry - and the human hermeneutic activity, i.e. understanding of computer mediated information. An artist in the field of digital information technologies develops his art on the level of so called artistic coding, managing of computer communication between a human and the computer and, even more importantly, communication between two human beings with mediation of the computer.
Selection of web projects Open.Line is breaking the horizon of "pure" artistic coding in several aspects and with several presented projects, as the rearrangement of relations between digital information occurs on actual information (which are more or less interesting for our lives) and also "in fact" as new combinations of elements create new meaningful connections. Web art as well as software art in general are therefore bound to deliberate coding of digitalized signs, which establishes relations with analogous signs of other layers of reality through reconstruction. It seems that we are able to identify a horizon of so-called polyperspective constructivism, a kind of renewed coding of existing semiotic perspectives of reality and their co-existence.
Web projects, presented by the exhibition as a representative whole are all explicitly involved with aspects of mediating the database through computer manipulation in the sphere of internet. The selection represents many different possibilities in the media field of web archive and emphasizes heterogeneity of phenomena as it sometimes seems that some projects - such as group's LeCiel- EstBleu PuppetTool- are almost closed as the model of modern artistic artefact, meanwhile others - such as Wikipedia - act as a mere mediator in social communication. The Open.Line project however insists on not including the works limited to communication between computers, as they seem less typical or less interesting/acceptable to the art of publishing information on the web (with this statement we refer for instance to spam or viruses).
Several genre condensations can be emphasized accounting on concrete projects. Designing the interface that helps a person to read frequently messy piles of data is a basis of the web project by Marcos Weskamp and Dan Albritton called Newsmap. The screen becomes a table of daily news; sorting by significance depends on internet's own data, i.e. on the quantity of links. Andruid Kerne conceptualized the project CombinFormation from the opposite side. In contrast to deformed, "corrupted" web browsers Combin- Formation is a programme that presents the user with data from the internet on the basis of different search strings. The programme, actually a bot with many settings that offer the user a chance to battle the chaos on the web, handles browsing; more importantly - the bot is also capable of learning on the basis of user interaction while browsing the web. Thus the whole world web becomes an archive, shown by the programme in the role of interface.
Runme.org by Amy Alexander, Florian Cramer, Olga Goriunova, Matthew Fuller, Alex McLean, Alexei Shulgin and The Yes Men group is an archive of web and software art structured in two major ways: rationally with the list of categories and subcategories and intuitively with the image of a keyword cloud. The entertaining access to the database is emphasized in Memory by Martin Bricelj, which presents the history of Slovenian visual communications design through the popular "interface" of game Memory.
ArtNetInfo is the web home of ArtNetLab. In the background of web pages are two databases. The first is a video archive that contains the production of the group on the intermedia level - for that purpose the interface Mouseion Serapeion has been created, which simultaneously shows the hit and its dynamically constructed context, whereas ad hoc pages of annual productions are centered around a theme that contextualizes current events in a new way every year. ArtNetForum uses the protocol of open code software for its textual collection, which allows browsing in selective ways (in contrast to the non-interactive static collection of texts in the form of a book). The laboratory part of ArtNetLab is made up of two databases on two different levels: Mouseion Serapeion 2.0 Wiki is an experiment in building collective web databases - every user has all editing rights -, whereas OpenNetLab and LoginNet- Lab experiment with different levels of privacy in the public space of the web through the test initiation of the project i-poet. ArtNet- Magazine uses its complete infrastructure for the future installment of the new Slovenian magazine for new media.
A special place in the entire selection belongs to the project PuppetTool by LeCielEstBleu group. The project is developed in Shockwave that binds the user to a very restricted interaction with the project. By changing the parameters it allows the user to create animations on the basis of modular elements. Precisely determined "restrictions" are in fact those that enable more accurate insight into the logic of digital archive - the authors have prepared basic elements and algorithms for the animations, which ensure a specific identity of animations made consequently by the user. The programme thus forces the user to be aware of his own position in the process of creating the final look of the visualization; the user is neither merely a random seed nor the total author of the work of art, but the user of a tool. With that PuppetTool brings us back to the fundamental truths of techno-art, which decomposes the authorship of image between the constructor of the tool and the user.
Interactive creation of the archive, precisely the archive of Eastern European art, is a foundation of East Art Map project by the group IRWIN (division of NSK). It is basically a selection of 250 artists, artistic events and projects that form a framework of the concept of Eastern European art. The interactive part of the project offers the web user a possibility to propose a replacement for a certain element of the archive that is in his opinion (precisely formulated in the proposal) more suited than the existing one. Internet democracy, carefully watched over by an expert committee which proposed the initial entries, is converted to a game of poker played for the units of capital circulated under the term of "contemporary art of Eastern Europe" and as such giving some artists and curators a chance of survival while others are literally being erased from the map of Eastern European art.
Because the selection of Open.Line is by no means exhaustive it is necessary to mention the omitting of an extensive field of projects that should have been included into consideration of digital archives. Digital three-dimensional spaces are digital archives with a long history on the internet, for instance with the VRML protocol. Virtual three-dimensionally designed space is never empty; it contains elements and relations between them, which are by the logic of their own existence necessarily spatially coded. This concept however opens a new, very extensive problem filed which would demand a special attention and a more detailed presentation.
Narvika Bovcon, Aleš Vaupotič