A screenful of flickering black and grey squares announces the novelist Alistair Gentry's new hypertext fiction, and invites readers to search for a way in. Once through, the shading of each box indicates the number of readers so far. It may also warn them not to expect light reading; the work is inspired by the black box flight recorders of crashed planes, and consists of 100 words by each of 100 characters contemplating or experiencing their deaths. Structurally, it's similar to works such as the novel 253, its connections either linear, from page to page, or via hyperlinks. Suggested threads include abduction, accidents and alcohol through to murder, suicide and urban; 55 vignettes so far, with more to come.
The Dead Media Project
The San Francisco-based author and "professional garage futurist" Bruce Sterling inspired this site, dedicated to almost-but-not-quite technologies from the past. Media that didn't make it, he argues, can teach valuable lessons for the future, and the master list here goes way back, from prehistoric etched-bone mnemonic devices and lunar calendars, all the way to obsolete video formats and computer languages. Also on board, magic lanterns, searchlight spectacles, stereopticons, ancient Mesopotamian fire signals and the composer Scriabin's plans for a "colour organ". The planned clockwork laptop (relative of the clockwork radio) also gets a mention, although it is still in the best of conceptual health.
Art/Science Research Laboratory
When is a hatrack not a hatrack? This and other questions are hotly debated here, by a new group aiming to break down boundaries between art, science and computer technology. Investigation centres on Marcel Duchamp, whose Dadaist works consisted of commonplace mass-produced items placed in a gallery context - most famously Fountain, in fact a urinal. The site attempts to show that far from being "found" objects off the assembly-line, Duchamp's materials were subtly modified, thus throwing 80 years of subsequent avant- garde theory into a tizz. The elements of Bicycle Wheel on Stool from 1913 seem, after computer analysis of the surviving photographs, to have been deliberately crafted by the cunning old provocateur - the stool isn't geometrically consistent in different shots, and anyway, bicycle frames of that design weren't available in 1913. And so on.
Or could it be just one last, posthumous tease by the art-prankster himself?
Make Your Own Mondrian
The painter himself called it "neoplasticism", and now anyone can have a go at Piet Mondrian's familiar arrangements of coloured blocks and lines. This program allows the user to colour, resize and rearrange shapes into compositions the Dutch artist would have been proud to claim as his. "Cubism and Surrealism have intercourse with ephemeral cyber-art", boasts the site, though it's hard to tell whether the click-and-drag simplicity with which new masterpieces can be created is meant as any sort of critique. The New York-based webmeister also offers online board games, animations and puzzles. Also on offer is a series of digital collages, promiscuously mixing Degas, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and others, are available for only $600. For a take on the "authentic" Mondrian, try http://www. usinternet. com/users/glenedwards/ mondrian.html
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