Mark Napier, Feed, 2001


Artist Bio

Mark Napier, a painter turned digital artist, packed up his paints in 1995 to create artwork exclusively for the Web. Since then he has produced a wide range of Internet projects including The Shredder, an alternative browser that dematerializes the web, Digital Landfill, an endless archive of digital debris, and ©Bots, a tool for building unique pop-culture icons from parts.

Noted for his innovative use of the Web as an art medium and for his open-ended evolving artwork, Napier's work has been reviewed in The New York Times Online, ArtByte, HotWired, Art Forum, Publish, Yahoo Magazine, and the Village Voice. In addition to 010101: Art in Technological Times, his work has been shown at ZKM, awarded honorable mention by Ars Electronica 99 and has been chosen for the Walker's AEN show, WNET's ReelNY project, and the ASCI Digital Art 98 show.

Napier lives and works in New York City. His artwork is available online at http://potatoland.org.

Mark Napier, Feed (detail), 2001

Artist Statement

I create "Net art," online artwork that is about the Internet and cannot exist outside of it. These works explore the ideas of ownership, authority, territory, and communication in the virtual world.

I do this by creating software that talks directly to the Internet and appropriates the text, images and data that make up the Web. The software uses this information as raw material to create an aesthetic experience. Though I use programming languages to create these interfaces, I allow for the coding process to create unforeseen possibilities that add another dimension to the work. The technology reveals possibilities. Accidents happen and mistakes in the code produce unexpected but wonderful qualities.

This creative chaos extends to the works themselves. My works are not objects but interfaces. The users become collaborators in the artwork, upsetting the conventions of ownership and authority. By interacting with the work, the visitors shape the piece, causing it to change and evolve, often in unpredictable ways. The Net art I create is not about using code as art, but about understanding how the underlying technology affects the artwork (or in this case art-interface). The artwork becomes a creative tool that facilitates an aesthetic process.

Technical Statement

My projects are software interfaces, developed in JavaScript, Java, and DHTML, and are viewed through a Web browser online. They are interactive experiences that respond to input from the user. In The Shredder and Riot I use CGI scripts to rewrite the rules of ownership and territory that the browser imposes. Through Perl scripts, I access the underlying code of Web pages, then display those pages in my own format. The result is an alternative browser like Riot that overlaps two or three different Web pages in one window, or The Shredder where users can virtually "shred" a Web page.

User participation is critical to these works. In works such as Pulse and p-Soup, I created algorithms using Java and JavaScript. These algorithms detect mouse movement and clicks that create graphical effects that are immediate and fleeting. In Digital Landfill users fill in a form to contribute to an archive that has evolved over the course of two years.

Please Note

URLs listed above may change or become invalid after the close of the exhibition.

Major support for e.space has been generously provided by the James Family Foundation.