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Themesicon: navigation pathMapping and Texticon: navigation pathArchive/Map
Valence (Fry, Benjamin), 1999Poetry Machine 1.0 (Link, David), 2001WebStalker (I/O/D), 1998

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relation to the practice of mapping text and images in context, artistically and algorithmically.

Mapping text

A classical literary text by Shakespeare is interpreted in different ways, but always present textually in linear mode. Textual analysis takes place only on the meta-plane of interpretation. So what would happen if the text were to manifest itself in a different form? So the first example looks at the various states a text can exist in. Benjamin Fry's «Valence» software in fact creates a program that brings algorithm and narration into a strikingly new relationship. The crucial conceptual difference lies in interaction between elements. A recursive process starts up: image becomes text (code) and text becomes image. A kind of textual software sculpture is produced, and can be compared with other graphic 3D forms ‹at a glance›. But this dynamic object could also be described as a special form of textual mapping (see also Bradford Paley, «TextArc» [LI2] and David Link, «Poetry Machine 1.0.») Something that «Valence» demonstrates word for word is presented visually in what is probably the most


frequently cited mapping project in Internet art, «Web Stalker,» 1997, by the I/O/D artists' collective. This alternative browser can present the static link structure of any website abstractly, in order to create an image that can be compared with other structures in its turn. Correlations can be recognized at a glance, and visual comparatistics appear on the horizon. Linear text uses the universally applicable convention of line structure, but for dataspace this is a form that is much more difficult to standardize. Perceptible, intelligible division of information into space and time is a prerequisite for the balance between noninformation and too much information. [24] Fry destroys the linearity of the text to construct a different textual form that has nothing to do with earlier literary techniques like cut-up (see William Burroughs), for example, but with quantitative textual analysis. As a comparatistics tool, «Valence» could be cited as a visual ‹signature› for a text, and contribute to the information condensation process.

The cursor, blinking to invite us to type text, is one of the appealing elements of the electronic writing process. As a dividing line, it embodies the place

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