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The Independent Culture
Gene Art


A heady blend of Soviet Constructivism, Cold Fusion and a special, randomly mutating source code, these pages invite would-be successors to the Twenties Russian avant-garde to generate a modernist masterpiece of their own. Clicking on one of four possible "paintings" decides which combination of shape and colour will make it through to become the parent of the next generation. New variants of this will then, in turn, be created for the next visitor to choose. And so on. When enough frames have been "evolved" from visitors' decisions, they'll be turned into downloadable animations. Basically a new UK design company showing off, the none-too-serious site admits that the bourgeoisie-bashing of Malevich, Lissitzky and the rest might be a bit simplistic for the Nineties. But it still finds a lesson for the Web in the formal simplicity of this kind of art.

The Vagrant Gaze


This well-meaning if problematic project hands out disposable cameras to New York's street people, paying them $20 for the resulting photos and posting them here, along with interviews with their creators. The doctoral student behind it all hopes that "although these artistic expressions are fleeting, they will supply a sense of self-worth". The current crop ranges from sentimental snaps - a Vietnam veteran's homage to his bedraggled cat - to crack user Johnny McMillan's wintry tenement-scapes, and ex-con Kevin King's dramatic use of camera-flare. The photographic sensibilities are as intriguing as the personal histories are sad: both aim to validate the "subjectivity" of those in need.

Sir Isaiah Berlin 1909-1997


Isaiah Mendelevich Berlin was the first president of Wolfson College, Oxford, which has put together this "modest tribute" to the life and times of the great philosopher and historian of ideas. Its subject died last November and so far the material consists mainly of his obituary from this newspaper, together with a detailed bibliography, both by Henry Hardy, Sir Isaiah's editor for some years. Additional perspectives on this committed pluralist are planned, including a transcript of his Desert Island Discs appearance - perhaps some evidence of the "impish sense of fun" referred to here.

The Odyssey


Two volunteers with a couple of years to spare are still being sought for this ambitious "interactive world trek" covering China, India, Iran, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Mali, Israel, Turkey and Russia. Ten travellers, including Fulbright scholars and environmental activists, will visit each destination in turn and report back to a Web site accessed by, the organisers hope, up to a quarter of a million schoolchildren. The project will involve not only learning about world cultures but joining with grassroots groups in "the struggle against poverty and oppression". Disadvantaged kids following its progress on the Web will be pursuing a related curriculum in school, and, it is hoped, will go on to apply what they learn in their own communities. Meanwhile, much additional sponsorship is required before the team set off this summer.



Unofficial Dylan pages are legion, but it has taken this long for his record company, Columbia, to come up with an official site worthy of its subject. The lyrics, zealously protected on the Web until now, are here and fully indexed, with sound clips, the latest video in its entirety, and a ticket ordering service modelled on that formerly used by the Grateful Dead. The site draws heavily on the expertise of The Well's online Dylan community, and includes - in a major concession to the Bobcat world of unauthorised concert tapes - a growing collection of unreleased live performances, from "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" (1963) to a poignant and authentically bootleg-sounding "Blind Willie McTell" from August last year.