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Vernacular Web
Video presentation by Yn Hsien Chen and Angellque Padua based on the 'Vernacular Web' essays by Olia Lialina.

Vernacular Web is a term to describe websites created in the first decade of the Internet before the dotcom boom, when authoring tools were still basic and professional design online did not exist. The term also describes works that emulate this style. Vernacular Web was explored and written about by Olia Lialina, one of the original net.art pioneers in a series of three essays.

From A Vernacular Web

So what was this culture? What do we mean by the web of the mid 90's and when did it end?

To be blunt it was bright, rich, personal, slow and under construction. It was a web of sudden connections and personal links. Pages were built on the edge of tomorrow, full of hope for a faster connection and a more powerful computer. One could say it was the web of the indigenous…or the barbarians. In any case, it was a web of amateurs soon to be washed away by dot.com ambitions, professional authoring tools and guidelines designed by usability experts.[1]

From Vernacular Web 2

I’m talking about everything that became a subject of mockery by the end of the last century when professional designers arrived, everything that fell out of use and turns up every now and again as the elements of “retro” look in site design or in the works of artists exploring the theme of “digital folklore”: the “Under Construction” signs, outer space backgrounds, MIDI-files, collections of animated web graphics and so on.[2]

And today, in the end of June 2007, when we hear of amateur culture more often than ever before, the cultural influence of “Welcome to My Home Page” web pages looks especially interesting. People who created them and their ideas of what the Web is, how it can be used and how the pages should look, these people’s likes and mistakes gave the today’s Web its current shape.[2]

From Prof. Dr. Style (Vernacular Web 3)

[…] there is a way to find pages that live forever in 1993. To present them to the new students I look for "Prof. Dr." in Google. Some semesters ago it was possible to make a life performance with this search. Pages of academics in style were top results. As of June 2010, the magic seems to be gone. To collect enough examples for this article I had to go till result page 110.[3]

The Telegarden is an art installation that allows web users to view and interact with a remote garden filled with living plants. Members can plant, water, and monitor the progress of seedlings via the tender movements of an industrial robot arm.[1]

Users participate in tending a living garden using a remote industrial robot to perform simple requests such as watering, planting and viewing the garden. Users are presented with a simple interface that displays the garden from a top view, the garden from a global composite view and a navigation and information view in the form of a robot schematic. By clicking on any of the images one commands the robot to move to a new absolute location or one relative to where they just were. The robot, upon completion of the move, will return a refreshed image of the garden. In this manner one can explore the entire garden remotely using simple mouse clicks. [2]

The robot performs users requests on a first come first server bases. Because of this multiplexing of the robot more than one user can be within the garden at once. By using the member tracker overlay one can not only see who but where other members are within the garden. If they wish to communicate with these other members they can enable or enter the village square. The village square is a public message chat system where people within the garden can discuss subjects of their choice. [2]

To water the garden users align the camera image over the section of the garden to water and press the water button. This will command the robot to release a small squirt of water over the area in view. To plant a seed a user is first requested to find a spot that is relatively empty (there are no restrictions to where one can plant) and then asked to press the plant button. This will cause the robot to poke a small hole in the ground, proceed to the seed bowl, suck up a seed and deposit it back into the previously dug hole.[2]

The Telegarden is a community project where users interact not only with the garden but amongst themselves. The project was created to push the possibility of web interaction using customizable user options, chat areas, garden movie making, web cameras, etc.[2]

Reconnoitre is the artist duo of Gavin Baily and Tom Corby. Since the 1990s they have collaborated on artworks, texts and research that broadly explore intersections of environmental, technological and social processes. Recent work includes the use of information from the climate, meteorological and geological record to visually condense the aleatory and hidden aspects of environmental sites and landscape, and the employment of social media platforms to produce speculative geographies and experimental maps. At the heart of much of this work is an interest in data, employed as a medium beyond a conventional analytics approach, but which stresses its critical, experiential and affective potential.[1]

Electric Perfume is a studio and event space where interactive and immersive projects are built, playtested, curated, and exhibited with a focus on public feedback and learning.[1]

Tabor Robak A* (2014) Tabor Robak A* (2014) Tabor Robak Blossom (2018) Tabor Robak Where's My Water (2015) Tabor Robak Butterfly Room (2015)
Xenix (2013)
Quantaspectra at Team Gallery NYC
SI: Visions | Tabor Robak on Video Games

Tabor Robak is an American artist working in video art and electronics including live-rendering 3D graphics and custom built PC graphics installations.

Robak's early works consisted of 3D interactive environments, to be accessed on the artist's website. These pieces, which the artist described as having a "desktop screensaver aesthetic," sought to isolate digital space as a fact, an abstracted, alternate reality. Robak's work explores the visual vocabulary of modern video games, advertising and animated film, to examine societal perceptions of the digital and the real.[1]

isthisit? is a platform for contemporary art, exhibiting over 700 artists since its creation in May 2016, founded by its current director, artist and curator Bob Bicknell-Knight. Online, it operates as a gallery producing monthly exhibitions showcasing emerging to mid-career artists, hosting a roster of guest curators experimenting with the medium of the internet to interrogate a variety of concepts. The website also hosts monthly residencies, where artists are given a web page to create new work that exists on the internet as a piece of net art. Offline, it has held exhibitions nationally and internationally and is the publisher of isthisit?, a book series released on a triannual basis.[1]

Benjamin Fry (born 1975) is an American expert in data visualization. He is a principal of Fathom, a design and software consultancy in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also a co-developer of Processing, an open-source programming language and integrated development environment (IDE) built for the electronic arts and visual design communities with the purpose of teaching the basics of computer programming in a visual context. The Processing design environment developed together with Casey Reas won a Golden Nica from the Prix Ars Electronica in 2005.[1]

For Zombie & Mummy, Lialina and Espenschied are creating weekly episodes of a comic strip featuring the two title characters. Each episode is embedded in a colorful environment. Drawn on a Palm pilot, the cartoons themselves have a low-tech look, with no shades of gray and only 160x146 pixels per frame. They can be viewed online or downloaded for a palm device.[1]

Heath Bunting is a British artist based in Bristol, UK. His work focuses on the development of open democratic and communication systems and social structures on the internet and in the public space. He has has worked in graffiti, performance, intervention, pirate radio, fax/ mail art, and BBS systems to become an active participant in the explosion of the internet.[1]

He is the founder of the site irational.org (with Daniel García Andújar, Rachel Baker and Minerva Cuevas) and was one of the early practitioners in the 1990s of Net.art. Bunting's work is based on creating open and democratic systems by modifying communications technologies and social systems. His work often explores the porosity of borders, both in physical space and online.[2]

Aram Bartholl’s work creates an interplay between internet, culture and reality. How do our taken-for-granted communication channels influence us? Bartholl asks not just what humans are doing with media, but what media is doing with humans. Tensions between public and private, online and offline, techno-lust and everyday life are at the core of his work and his public interventions and installations, often entailing surprisingly physical manifestations of the digital world, challenge our concepts of reality and incorporeality. Bartholl has exhibited at MoMA Museum of Modern Art NY, Skulptur Projekte Münster, Palais de Tokyo, Hamburger Bahnhof and the Thailand Biennale among other as well as conducting countless workshops, talks and performances internationally. Bartholl lives and works in Berlin.[1]