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SCAN 2003

Tim Plaisted

Zoe Butt

Tim Plaisted still from Surface Browser Tim Plaisted still from Surface Browser
A Rising Tide is a visual journey akin to racing down a winding narrow street at 120km per hour except that the street has become a graceful snake-like conduit that receives your queries as images and pastes them in fragments onto its inner skin. The transparent blue of this 3D space provides the participant with a distant view of the oncoming journey, which slides with myriad similes from the image bank of the internet. The speed and rush of the postmodern city and its pulsating ability to feed information through signs and symbols is a visual language analogous to the spatial environment created by the interactive elements of Brisbane artist Tim Plaisted’s new work.

A Rising Tide—An Internet Surface Browser attempts to provide a new ocular understanding of how search engines (such as Google) operate on the world wide web. In this application the user is confronted by a tube-like interface in which the web link or object query entered into the pathway becomes a page that moves across the surface of a pipe. The page acts as a kind of skin to a 3D object that dives and plummets through the pathways of the net. Loading images, the user navigates the links. Plaisted explains, “this is not a case of creating independent virtual 3D worlds but about re-mapping the existing visual aspect of the internet into an environment that can be entered and traversed. In this way, the solids representing pages can be seen as a way to give volume back to the millions of body images which make up so much of internet network traffic.” Plaisted’s Surface Browser seeks to provide a 3D visual experience of surfing the internet-a process that is otherwise formless or perhaps invisible to us as users.

Browser intervention is a recent exploration in new media art and one that Plaisted has entered from the perspective of visual social engagement. Much of his earlier work interrogated the simulated process of communicated reality. In 24hr Coverage TV news broadcasts appear as if pause is being repeatedly pressed–a newsreader emerges in a moment of repetitive distress with a barely audible stammer. The absence of content is highlighted yet we understand the image as a vehicle through which we are usually informed. Plaisted questions how decisions can be informed if they are “...made in terms of a society’s response to ‘the events of the day’ without full participation of the ‘public’ in an in-depth debate” (unpublished interview, 2001). For Plaisted, A Rising Tide is a valuable encounter. As a 3D visualisation of information it enables the user to understand, albeit in a somewhat abstract manner, how the web operates by indicating the journey of an enquiry.

RealTime issue #57 Oct-Nov 2003 pg. 42

© Zoe Butt; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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