Network: Turn your junk into art

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The Independent Culture
The Digital Landfill landfill/

There's a lot of rubbish out there in cyberspace, and even more cluttering up hard drives worldwide. But a newly launched facility allows online dumping of the digital detritus. So instead of pressing the "delete" key, send your unwanted electrons to what amounts to a compost heap for the World Wide Web. This omnivorous, environmentally conscious site wears its recycling logo with pride and accepts everything - XXX-rated Jpegs, old e-mails, botched HTML. Anything goes, except perhaps old mattresses or lawn trimmings: just press the "Add to Landfill" button and watch it all accumulate on screen. Layered sections of the heap may be chosen from a side panel and examined; with the most recent browsers, it's superimposed in a jumble of text and images intended to provide fertile ground for new design ideas. In fact, it's another digital art-prank from Mark Napier, previously featured mutating a hapless Barbie in ways under-appreciated by her manufacturers.

Walk on Water tsukar/wow.html

More creative uses for debris here, but this seems to be about science rather than art, as engineering students compete to design suitable footwear for aquatic strolling. There's a lot of polystyrene and duct tape about, as well as rafts made of plastic Coke bottles. Some of the "self-propelled buoyancy shoes" are wittily styled, for instance as a giant pair of Nikes. The University of San Diego has posted strict rules for the contest, which culminates in a walking race across a swimming-pool: no external propulsion devices, no props to maintain balance, no modified surfboards. Overall, the entries could not be described as hi-tech. "Cut a sawtooth pattern in a large piece of styrofoam and glue to bottom of shoe." Or, in the immortal words of Tim Rice: "Prove to me that you're no fool/Walk across that swimming-pool."


An ingenious contraption and an ingenious site, this petite Swiss robot may be manipulated by remote control from home computers worldwide. Forget Lost In Space, though - Khep is only 55mm across and is limited to scuttling around a simple maze, while relaying its own progress from a tiny on-board camera. An on-screen panel enables cursor control of the Lausanne-based machine: to avoid confusing the poor chap, only one visitor can be in command at a time, so the thrill is rationed and subject to automatic time-out. Moves may, however, be rehearsed in advance by means of VRML simulation. Khep, and its larger stablemate Koala, are available for sale from the site. Mischief-makers frustrated by the intermittent connection, however, might want to amuse themselves by sending it trundling off the edge of the table.

Kite Aerial Photography arch_faculty_cris/kap/

Heath Robinson takes to the air at this site dedicated to high-altitude swooping and snooping. These impressively laid out pages are the work of a US professor who, in his spare time, straps cameras to kites and produces stunning overhead images. Lots of home-made ingenuity on display here, including a low-cost shutter delay mechanism in which a piece of string slowly cuts through a melting ice cube. The pictures, however, are expertly composed and sometimes funny; a bird's-eye view of the author shows him reclining nonchalantly in a muddy, dried-up lake bed, kite string in hand. Aerial shots, he says "challenge our spatial sensibilities, our grasp of relationships", and, in what must be the oddest trading proposal on the Web, he offers to swap copies of his snaps for old, unwanted slide rules - another of his obsessions.