How To Be Web-Site-Specific
An Artist’s Exploration
I make multi-media and multi-sensory site specific art. That’s a mouthful to say, but really quite straight forward, it’s art, set in a particular location, that awakens the senses. Because my art engages smell, touch, taste, not only sight and sound, it always seemed impossible to share online. Indeed, the idea of creating a website that communicates my work used to catapult me into complete anxiety. It felt like singing under water with the audience on land.
As I thought about creating a website that could be a resonant extension of my art, I struggled with these questions:
- How can I share the immersive experience of my multi-sensory performances when they are so firmly rooted in their performance sites? For instance, a highway salt shed, a skatepark, a parking garage.
- How can I create a website experience that allows you as a visitor and fellow adventurer to move about within the performances, to explore from different angles, and to choose your timing, perspective and mode of engagement?
- How can I share the complexity of my work and process without drowning you in my process thoughts, and self-indulgent navel gazing?
- How can a website be both informative and an experience of deep play?
I brought these questions to Hello Monday, a team of fearless creatives with whom I had the privilege to work. They took the time to listen, to probe, and to explore with me, in the process coming to completely understand my struggles, wishes and visions.
They deeply immersed themselves in my work and quickly became familiar with its key concepts and markers: liminality (the concept of an estuary both as place, time and experience); play as a complex experience and process; freedom of choice in immersive experiences that engage all our senses, and fearless curiosity that transcends ego and habitual paradigms.
Together, we created a site that lives in the estuary where website meets video-game, one that allows you to choose your own experience, that engages all of your senses, except for the olfactory which the site evokes by association and memory, and invites you to spend time exploring the terrain guided by your own fearless curiosity.
This latter invitation bears some discussion. More and more these days websites guide and steer you toward an action, a piece of information, a destination to which the website’s sponsor wishes to take you as quickly as possible. More and more these days we approach websites as strip miners. We wish to rip off the top of the mountain and get to the treasure as quickly as possible, never mind the consequences. This site is different, it invites you to spend time, to follow trails, to dig deeper, to linger. It gives you the freedom to go where you want to go, granting you the permission to wander about and discover that websites functioning as funnels deny.
Directly below I’ve shared with you a sliver of my website landscape.
Let’s explore its various elements, each corresponding to the red circled numbers on the image:
- Indicates the beginning time of the performance. That’s right, when you enter my site you’re entering a performative space — depending on the time of day the performance took place, the color of background changes with red for daytime, yellow for afternoon, blue for early evening, and black for night time. Remember, my question about how I would make a website, site specific. With the site as performance, we begin to find something of an answer.
- Click on the audio symbol and you can hear me talking about the particular project you are engaging with.
- The sphere for each performance element moves around in the landscape. You need to click on a sphere in order to enter the terrain of any given project.
- Throughout the terrain of a project you’ll find text incorporating quotes and descriptions, behind the scenes insights, as well as images, and video.
- From here you have direct access to specific projects and project information.
I am beyond words excited about the result of my work with Hello Monday and hope you will enjoy the experience of exploring and playing in the varied terrain my website offers you. Perhaps you will even find inspiration and some of the excitement, curiosity and joy that my collaborators and I invested in this project. As you browse, I invite you to think about what we mean when we say “website-specific”.
And please do share with me you ideas and experiences. I look forward to a lively discussion.