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WebStalker (I/O/D), 1998

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most of this software is available for free, and often it is even open source. In addition, the development of software art (and other experimental software) has exploded because of the availability of examples, patches, sources of knowledge and possibilities for exchange on the Internet. Rashib Aijer Gosh explained at a symposium on open source at V2 in Rotterdam: «Software development is a social process, based on fun, pride, and a community spirit». Without the Internet this type of art would have been extremely marginal, and hence I would argue that most software art is part of the public domain 2.0, even if it is used on a stand alone machine.»

Software art context

The digital realm had already triggered the imagination of artists in the 1960s and 1970s, especially in the realm of conceptual art. Some interactive works on computers were presented in an art context for the first time at the exhibition «Software» in 1970, curated by Jack Burnham and presenting works of, for instance, Les Levine, Hans Haacke and Joseph Kosuth. Burnham explained «Software» as «an attempt to


produce aesthetic sensations without the intervening ‹object›». To understand what software art means today, however, we will look at two specific projects, «WebStalker» and «».


In 1997 the British group I/O/D (Matthew Fuller, Simon Pope, Colin Green) designed a very unusual Web browser called «WebStalker.» «WebStalker» is an alternative Web browser that does not display Web pages as commonly expected. It visualizes the underlying HTML code in a highly aesthetic manner, in which delicate lines erupt from central points on a map to form stars or connected nodes in a Web. Its appearance is almost dreamlike compared to commercial browsers such as Netscape and Explorer. «WebStalker» reveals the way a browser works, rather than actually working as a browser is supposed to (that is, visualize images and text from code). «It's designed to be predatory and boredom-intolerant,» says Matthew Fuller in an interview with Geert Lovink. «At the same time though, we hope that as a piece of speculative software it just encourages people to treat

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