Archive for January, 2008


January 10th, 2008

THE CENTRAL CITY  website consists of over a dozen projects which have been in development since version one went online in 1997.

UK artist Stanza wins VIDA 6.0, 2003


 The city allows you to experience different artwork depending on how you choose to navigate. There are also random ways to experience this. As well as this non linearity, some of the pieces change over time. Evolving pieces exist, that the “user” has to control to make them work, the user also can input changes of sound and picture.

This change in the relationship between the audience and the artist could be said to change our perception of the artwork. I am evolving a situation where the audience may not only participate but also by giving them some control, contribute to the form and content. The work is exploring this changing relationship between the audience and artist. The user makes the decision to change sounds and pictures, where to go, what to see, what to hear. This can be done by movements within the grid. This change in the relationship between the audience and the artist changes our relationship to the artwork. The user can choose what they experience, synthesising converging media, systems, and phenomena in the process

Maps. Finding Our Place In The World. (Book)

January 10th, 2008

Stanza paintings of maps

Maps. Finding Our Place In The World. Edited by James r. Akerman and Robert W.Karrow Jr. Published 2007 by The University of Chicago Press.

In chapter five (page 2008) Michael Friendly and Gilles Palsky write about data visualization and information visualization. Data visualization about showing “patterns, trends or anomalies in ways other forms do not allow ie text and tables”. Various types differ (see page 210 ), they are communication devices conveying information from target to viewer using signs and symbols.

Sensity is a mix of the information map showing exploration, ie revealing pattern and structure about an area. Data maps show the “qualative information across space, time or circumstance.” Sensity and the mix of GPS , temp , light and sound to create audio visual real time landscapes also merges with the art map and fantasy maps.

Page 262.

Historical fantasy maps includes Sandro Botticelli, chart of Hell (1490). Other famous fantasy maps include Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”( 1883), or Herman Moll’s map of Lilliput (1726). All of these are complete fantasy maps, and the most famous being the maps from The Lord of the Rings. All of these maps are the maps of imaginary worlds.

My interest is in the information from the real world made into a virtualized experience over time. This data can be merged to create imagined situations bout the time and space these events happened.

In the visual arts of the late 20th century (page 283) there has been an explosion in the interest of maps in the visual arts. The maps of the modern art world aren’t fantasy maps like their predecessors, they are often conceptual, or used in performance and installation and often engage in questions of mapping with socio political overtones as the Situationists did.

The Sensity flanuer. The patterns in the city

January 9th, 2008
OIl On Canvas by artist Stanza. Virus

OIl On Canvas by artist Stanza. Virus

While Baudelaire characterized the flâneur as a “gentleman stroller of city streets”, he saw the flâneur as having a key role in understanding, participating in and portraying the city. A flâneur thus played a double role in city life and in theory, that is, while remaining a detached observer. This stance, simultaneously part of and apart from, combines sociological, anthropological, literary and historical notions of the relationship between the individual and the greater populace.

This term refers to a person who plays a sensor role in understanding the urban environment.

Any pedestrian environment that accommodates leisurely exploration of city streets. Walter Benjamin adopted the concept of the urban observer both as an analytical tool and as a lifestyle….. making social and aesthetic observations during long walks. (From wikipedia)

The wrap it seems, is the collections of observations about the cityspace. These can be made into histories and documented, sights and sounds, experiences of the city.


“’Space has to be conceptualised in order to be experienced and understood, our ‘sites’ are informed by the predisposed character of our ‘sight’. The flaneur is a suitable metaphoric vehicle for the ‘witnessing’ of this space because ‘the flaneur moves through space and among the people with a viscosity that both enables and priviledges vision.’

Being a product of modernity, he was a spectator of modern life in the urban sprawl; now a product of post-modernity, the cyborg-flaneur is an androgynous spectator of virtual spaces. A person’s whose aim is to disappear in the spaces of the city – ‘a prince who is everywhere in possession of his incognito’ – is the person who has the best view of the basic nature of cyberspace, a space where anonymonity is maintained by a process of vaporisation upon departure.

The flaneur is also an ‘image of movement through the social space of modernity’ – an explorer who finds their identity among the realizations of the city. The cyber-flaneur’s exploration of virtual spaces is achieved through their natural propensity for movement; they wander anonymously within the boundaries of virtual space, developing a virtual identity while connected.” By Gaylene Barnes, OtagoUniversity, 1997.


I am exploring the patterns in the city from walks through technological observations. There are system loops from analogue to digital. In Sensity I am make the work virtual, visualizing the real city data and then representing it online, then making an installation city in the real world through display and leds. That’s is from real to virtual to real in a complex loop of assets.

Sensity has an agency it manifests sites and sounds of the real work expressing the stresses and senses of the real urban networked space.

On reflecting on recent surveillance based work I am also making systems with analogue and digital that appear the same. Uncovering the process of that exists in making the artworks.

“The Metropolis and Mental Life” by George Simmel.

“Man does not end with the limits of his body or the area comprising his immediate activity. Rather is the range of the person constituted by the sum of effects emanating from him temporally and spatially. In the same way, a city consists of its total effects which extend beyond its immediate confines.”

And maybe data doesn’t start or end inside the computer. There is bleed at the edges of the dataspace which are affected by the ‘agency’ of the participants. Environments change shape and patterns emerge as the flaneur move about.

DNA clock. The DNA clock is playing with the idea of a code clock, a system within a system.

January 9th, 2008


stanza image of dna clock installation

The DNA clock is playing with the idea of a code clock, a system within a system. The clock is a code for life that is represent by time. In fact to count or watch all the 3.3 billion letters will take one hundred and four years disclosing the ‘meaning of life’ in the process. By sitting in the gallery for one hundred and four years you will also have an exact replica of Stanza DNA and the source code to copy the artist via duplication (clone). Alternatively you can buy my DNA which will be auctioned on Ebay soon.

The original concept and intention as well as being developed as an artwork was to make a business. In short a database placed online would require users to submit a copy of their DNA. Once the first 100,000 subscriptions had been made then an IPO, an initial public offering would be made. The company formed on the stock market would exploit any patents, intellectual property and any derivable income would be shared among the subscribed user group. The shareholders in this company would be the subscribers who have placed their DNA source code. This project was to counter the exploitation of DNA by large corporations who do now exploit the right to this source code, a code that should be equally beneficial to all. This database is still in progress and further funds and financial backers are needed. This concept is copyright / and left. Stanza 2003

The DNA is an operating system consists of 3.3 billion bases that is the letters ACTG. There are also the chromosomes and either the X or Y depending on if you are male or female. My thinking is if you remove parts of the operating system then you stop working. Indeed part of any OS consists of objects, functions or blocks of code that do specific jobs but also relate tasks to the whole. This idea is expanded when we consider that some of the code can actually change, evolve or shifts over time. An interesting term that relates to a huge chunk of the code sequence; in fact more than 95 percent of all DNA, was called “Junk DNA” by molecular biologists, because they were unable to ascribe any function to it. However the issue here is that the function of the code is not yet properly understood. What does the function do within the operating system?

There are other projects and works associated with my dna sequence including musical interpretation and generative reworking of my DNA sequence online.


Code represented by code and taken from blood.

The Internet is Just a bunch of links. Digest 2004 – Stanza.

January 9th, 2008
stanza image

stanza image 2002.The Internet is Just a bunch of links.

Digest 2004 – stanza. Just a bunch of links

It could be argued that any submission to an exhibition about net art should just be the link to the work. The link is the work – its address, its location in the virtual world, its place within the system. The net itself can be interpreted as just a long list of links. As the net has become such a long list then maybe there’s a role for some curation after all. I didn’t believe this initially. Now I’ve come to believe that at least some focus on issues such as what may or may not be net art is surely a good thing. It seems too obvious to suggest this. But why not, when the burgeoning of net art has led to the proliferation of organised lists of links which are called online exhibitions.

The development of types of experience called net art has expanded to such a degree that there are now many genres of art on the net. In so much as seeking an absolute definition is futile, it could be said that net art is or has become a combination of many things incorporating some new technologies (ie. html , java, shockwave etc.), but also other disciplines such as music, programming, design, fine art and many more. And depending on which discipline you’re coming from, you might prefer conceptually led works or video based works or whatever.

Is there any good net art?

For some time now I’ve felt the proliferation of different net art linked shows has detracted from this issue. Although we should focus on the nature of specific works there is a problem when the works then become subsumed by the politics of the curation process. The beauty of art on the net, networked art and net art itself is that it is art for everybody. You can engage with the work at whatever level you want. But when the major curatorial institutions start to engage with the work, they bring their baggage to the party. And who are they to say what is good and bad net art?

Stanza. Networked and connected systems. Map Software.

Stanza. Networked and connected systems. Map Software.

Rather than read pages of text (like this) let’s just look at the work and engage with it. When we go to a gallery, do we read and study text before experiencing the work? But net art shows are increasingly text driven in order to explain away the concept or process. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing, but it occurs to me that rather than lots of curators in many different museums pitching to arrange shows on this theme or that, would it not better serve the artists’ needs if these museums considered a different approach. Maybe they should first find out what it is the artists need.

A national virtual new media (data) centre. {developed art techology assembly}

What is needed is a stronger virtual infrastructure, not for net art to be presented in a physical manner. Imagine a virtually networked national new media centre with a solid technical backbone, back end systems, fast delivery, and capable of running whatever one wanted. This would be like building a new Tate Modern except for the virtual world. Maybe we could call it ‘Tate Virtual’, maybe the netart museum. Such a system would allow the curator to come in and re-interpret the works, to redesign from a back end and arrange and re-arrange at will. They could recommend work, and archive and re-contextualise it.

The new media centres and museums could team up, dare I say it collaborate, in order to represent the new work that exists online within a larger umbrella structure. This approach would be better, cheaper and offer the artists more scope. I’m not just talking about a virtual museum but a real delivery system through which curators can mobilise the artworks. Certainly in terms of any arts funded project this would be a very good way to collate, archive and reference the work from an art historical point of view. It would also be useful in terms of accountability. Sooner or later someone is going to ask what the return has been on all the investment of public funds into new media art.

A good idea. Memes

I’ve spoken before about the need for collaboration within the convergent media process. With the phenomenal rise in the number of artists using computers to make art, this is self-evident. But what’s far less obvious is what’s happens to all the work. And whether it’s graphic, music or emergent interactive works we’re talking about, there’s lots more of it on the way. Well curated online art spaces allow artists to show their work in online communities relevant to the work itself. Such sites can provide a specific platform, for example, for a streaming service for digital video, internet art specific projects, or java networked projects etc etc. My idea was/is to create a media arts portal under the name, ‘The Armchair Universe’. I started this back in 1997 but it proved too large an undertaking without funding.

The most succesful of the sites I’ve developed is It now has over one hundred artists’ works exhibited online, and specialises in audio visual work. The idea has been to develop these projects and link them together in a media arts portal. Not just for delivery but as a virtual community on the net.

Imagine a situation where artists that use computers make works and share these works online with other users and artists within a global network. Artworks can be posted up, and other people can vote for their favourite works. The most visited works can be highlighted and users can write up reviews and comments.

An environment like this, if funded and developed properly, could have a very significant impact on the art and culture online. Online users making digital TV could create their own schedules for an online community to watch. Generative music systems could be deployed online to play across networks. The promised new media revolution could become a reality rather than a disparate network of links that are variously alive and dead.

My existing sites are already attracting thousands of new users and tens of thousands of hits per month. With funding, a major online media portal such as this would also provide invaluable information. It would be a research and development resource revealing what people are actually creating with the computers of today. This information would enable us to better know what artists and creatives want from the technologies of tomorrow.

Everyone as artist

A media environment such as the one I am proposing would change the way people use their computers – and the users would become artists by exhibiting the work they create. This new media network would enable that process. Any company advertising or building such an environment would be making artists out of users/consumers. So let’s have some corporate involvement from the computer industry itself!

A national virtual new media data centre

I’ve attempted a few times to curate and show ‘exhibitons’ which explore the diversity of net art. (See links below). My idea was and still is to form a network of new media situations that represents the variety of artwork available online. is a space for artists at the forefront of the audiovisual field, where they can show work which focuses on a developing artform area. Soundtoys can be described as “new audio visual experiences”, or multimedia experiments, which explore the parameters of our new media world. They might be described as the fusion of audio and visual output through new technologies available on the internet.

The site looks at issues around interactive arts, audio visual synthesis, generative art, and the history of interactivity. It looks at how artists are exploring, researching and playing within the parameters of online art. The site attracts a diverse and convergent range of practitioners including designers, fine artists, programmers and musicians who are all expanding their creativity within the online audio visual domain.

The convergence of hardware and software has further encouraged convergence between different creative disciplines. Perhaps now some curation and critical perspective is needed. And the constantly changing and developing nature of technologies also allows for nature of the artwork itself to change. We’re starting to see a greater emphasis on works that generate and evolve. Formal relationships within art will change as the artist’s relationship to the process changes.

Online we have net art – artists who are specifically addressing the uses and abuses of the Internet as a medium for creative expression. Within this context artists are exploring many technologies including shockwave, flash, vrml and java. Offline we see more application driven interface experiments using technologies such as max, super collider, and exploiting multi user systems, generative audio, and graphics displays. addresses the blurring of these boundaries and presents artists working at the edge of software development and at the interface between art and new music.

However this is just one site amongst many that are dedicated to various forms of net art and new media. Rhizome,Turbulence, Futherfield – there is now a growing list that exists in the virtual world. And in the physical world in the UK we have Watershed, Fact, Hull Time Based Arts, Lighthouse Media Centre..etc etc.

Alive or Dead

My Netart museum ( Now also dead) was a links site which also attempted some chronological overview of the net art scene. To my amusement the last time I looked most of the work from 1997 is now dead links, in fact over 500 dead links. This is the true nature of the web and really the whole point of the web as an emergent system

The web as an emergent network

Image: Stanza City Souel

Image: Stanza City Souel

Cities hold a fascination for me in that the more you become familiar with navigating a city’s structure, the less likely you are to get lost. But even in a familiar city, it’s still possible to find new spaces and ones which have changed and evolved; or places that are no longer there. Buildings, estates, streets come and go – they have their own life cycle of birth, decay and death. When streets are demolished other spaces are left behind. The city is a truly emergent space. In looking at art on the web with all its convergent plurality, a similar pattern is emerging.

In the past five years alone, hundreds of thousands of artworks and websites have been created and leave their footprint of connectivity online. Occasionally these sites last, but more often they are taken down, or replaced when they become obsolete. This is the nature of the internet, of new technology and of emergent systems – things change, situations evolve. Contemporary artists working online tend to focus on connectivity and realise their work across networks, or within databases and information systems. And while artists are busily creating works as emergent systems, or to create metaphors for situations that evoke connectivity, the web by its varying defaults has created its own emergent system.

Error 404s as dead spaces, as voids, as the death or obsolescence of what was once there – representing a place for contemplation, transience and the eternal hope of renewal. These spaces are the memories of things past. You might come across them by accident, only to find on the error 404 page a description of a page that no longer exists.

But these pages make up an obsolete and emergent system of their own. Probably the most common page of information on the web is a web page that suggests it has no information. And yet these pages are all different, with different layouts, fonts and languages but the same message. Type error ‘404’ into a search engine and thousands of results are displayed. Information consigned to the cemetery of the internet

A small footprint for contemplation

The search engine displays information about the information you seek, but the information you seek is no longer there. My favourite website is this space, that has been created not by the process of artistic endeavour but by the medium of the internet itself. It’s a self-regulating body of images and texts. In the sense that it is a space to reflect, a space for memories and feelings, the 404 page creates a small footprint for contemplation.

So in an ideal world, it would be nice to customize your error404.html pages within websites(and certainly you can do this), and make artworks to go in these spaces. Then we’d have hundreds of thousands of error404 artworks. Which I guess is like putting a tombstone over the grave.

At (main stanza site)


Internet Art and technology. Stanza 2003

January 9th, 2008

Artwork by Stanza: CCTV  Media Visualisation 2005. Large print On Canvas.

The computer has now become a central tool within new media creativity. We are starting to see more and more traditional artists move into the web from other media. This has happened because of a combination of economic conditions, and the artists continual ‘search for the new’.

The internet offers various economical and valuable distribution benefits for artists and artworks. New media creativity also offers a variety of shifting parameters within which the interpretation of previous art histories may be re-evaluated. This is why ‘expression’ and use of the internet as a medium, and a resource has expanded to envelop our new world framework and is embraced by so many artists and art colleges. The use of this new technology also offers a sense of belonging which was never exposed through various other art histories.

This sense of connection is one of several qualities inherent to the internet as a medium for creative expression; sound, visual effect, time, movement and interaction all provide new parameters for the development of contemporary art. Here we have the convergence of painting and printmaking, photography, film and music.

The merging of the audio visual is increasingly becoming a central issue in the development of interactive media. Web artists are fusing the arts, incorporating a wide range range of approaches to the medium of the internet and audio visual practice. Artists are producing new audio visual experiences, and this includes art , games, generative music, interactive environments.

Artists have always been influenced by technology. Previously the artist’s or musician’s studio was a place of many hardwares, softwares, and bits and pieces. Today instead of brushes and paint and wooden stretchers and huge space for storage we a have a small box that can be both studio and gallery. For musicians instead of all sorts of instruments and masses of expensive gear, we have the same small box the PC. So the convergence of hardware and software has enabled many types of creatives to meet or converge. The PC acts as studio and gallery. Works can be disseminated globally. The distribution system has changed and the artist has direct access to a bigger audience through his very own “white cube ” gallery.

It could be said we are now starting to see the emergence of a new art form. As the newness unfolds a history will unfold with it. At the moment there is a blurring of the boundaries as many approaches are adopted, and this is confused further because of the constantly changing and developing nature of technologies which also allows for the artwork themselves to change. We are starting to see a much bigger emphasis on works that generate and evolve.

Certainly there is now a whole new category of online art and music driven by computer technology.

Online, we have net art. These works encounter and engage the user without whose presence in the interactivity the work is not only meaningless but does not exist. Within the global exhibition of such works the parameters of the artists relationship to his audience has shifted ground. We see emerging, a shared multidimensional relationship to these works. So now we find that the computer, this box, is in fact the gallery, the exhibition space, the computer as white cube. This box has become specification for which these works are made and are experienced.

Fifteen to twenty years ago very few computers where being used by creatives in colleges or universities. Now a visit to any college will see classes of art , fashion, graphics, music, all huddled up around the computer screen.

Artists are specifically looking at creative possibilities for the computer and the internet as a medium. One thing seems obvious, more and more artists are being drawn to new media. The diverse range and plurality of backgrounds means that the specifics of this form are hard to evaluate. From design, music, art, and programming various skills are needed to produce work in the digital domain.

So to fully engage with the internet as a medium, the artist must adopt multiple skills and languages in addition to those traditionally associated with the arts. Presented with an internet specific artwork, the visitor must physically engage with the work to experience it as it is meant to be and by that I mean that the work must utilise the qualities inherent to the medium if it is to be considered internet art at all – time must pass, things must change, connection must be made for the experience to be complete.

Text stanza 2003