The WebArt Movement is a project where 36 high valued single word .sg domains are acquired and made available free of charge for web artists world wide to adopt and leave their mark. Once adopted the artist will have until 15 July to work on it, however he/she wants; in the spirit of freedom – forget “design principles” or “color theory”, there will be no constrains.
This is a reflection of the zeitgeist where the Internet is still very young. Singapore has one of the highest citizen connectivity to the internet in the world, one might expect these domains to have been snapped up long ago but no, it is 2013 and many were still available. So I selected my favorite ones,
“Wow, is it so easy to own a domain?” some people might ask when they see a project like this, and the answer is YES! I have always wanted a website growing up and I bought my first domain, www.eugenesoh.com, when I was 16, with my teacher’s credit card. My teacher was helping me. To be honest, figuring out all that domain system by myself was difficult, but after a while it gets easier. The other problem I had was that I didn’t have a credit card of my own. Today, I have a credit card and some cash to spare – the shackles have fallen and I am now free.
My main inspiration comes from Nam June Paik.
His is constantly pushing technology to its limit whilst making use of the most advanced technology of his time to make art. For example, in his work “Good morning Mr. Orwell”, satellite communication is utilized to establish live telecast from 2 different continents.
In my own work, I would also like to create work that reflects the time and age we live in – to be an artist of my time.
The Internet is very young and it only gets more crowded. In the grand scale of things – after my death the Internet will be so crowded that it might become obsolete (like how TVs are slowly disappearing from new homes). Anyone who would like to create a new website might probably have to take a long domain name, e.g. www.thisismyfirstevercreativeportfoliowebsite.com because short domain names have been taken up. Hence, long names would be the norm in the future, prompting website creators to look back at the past and wonder how it would have been like living in 2013 when the Internet was young and one-word domains were still available. “Would someone have been able to own many one-worded domains and do something grand with it?” he might wonder.
Web Art .Sg is the grand project to answer that very question from the future.
The Role of the Audience
The role of the audience would be a very active one because collaboration is key in this Web Art project.
1. To spread the word and gain publicity. The idea of not having a point in doing something if no one else knew about it is one which resonates strongly in this project. We take pictures of things and put them up on the internet so people will know all the cool stuff that we are doing.
2. To adopt a domain! I made a form on webart.sg to simplify the process of sending a request. Requests have been coming in faster than I can review them.
3. To leave their mark on the domain and generate more publicity for the project. I’m expecting each of the artists to be flexing their creative muscle with their given domain.
4. The artists generate more publicity for the final show.
5. Participate in the final show later this year.
6. Purchase some of the art work.
The first bulk of domains were purchased over a period of 1 week early this year with some money I set aside for this very purpose. Getting artists to participate was quite a challenge initially. Another challenge I had was to get them to start working on the site if they participated. These two challenges have been resolved through the implementation of a proper WebArt.sg site that highlights their collaboration – the requests are also coming in fast now!
About the design and features of WebArt.SG:
- The colour yellow is prominent because I own yellow.sg and it is the only available basic color domain I could buy. Why did I choose a bright yellow? Because I like to keep things simple, yet at extreme. Yellow is also one of the default color choices on any image editing software so I decided to use it, rather than pick a more subtle color
- I have maintained the original look of the logo because I want to keep things consistent and bold. It also brings my bold ideas across.
- I have arranged all of the domain names to form sentences (a suggestion from Charles Lim). They read: “Frame these dead artists, they consume public good.” “Cute curator suicide surprise! Sue him, yellow pic.” “Wet boob weapon kill.” “Great visual, GST omen.” “Zai yet full lah.” haha guy poo leh.” “Aperture rip derp lor.”
- The website includes an “About” page which features the background information of the project
- The website includes an “Adopt a domain” form which users can complete to request for a domain, subjected to my review.
- The website includes a “Donate” page, but so far no one has donated.
I decided to adopt 2 of my own domains: Frame.sg and Cute.sg
Frame.sg started out as an update page for all other webart.sg domains, but then it turned into a personal micro blog of my virtual memories captured in screenshots.
“This is Internet Photography – I’m capturing real memories that happen virtually NOT with a camera, but with screenshots.
I framing my shots just like photos, arresting these precious memories of interactions with my friends and freezing them in time.”
This was how frame.sg looked. The initial idea was for frame.sg to post all updates or changes to each of the webart.sg sites. That would mean I had to constantly take screenshots and check on each of the sites for any artist updates.
As I continued to take screenshots and capture changes, I began to think about what a “Frame” really means. To me, it means a photo or image that was frozen in time. Since I was taking screenshots it was like I was capturing images and documenting virtual memories. Virtual memories are real memories too but they do not need an actual camera to capture them.
So began the new direction for this tumblr blog for people to peep into my life, into the interactions and things I see virtually. I take screenshots of things I find interesting in the same manner that I would take photos when I travel. This act of imagining the virtual world as a more physical place, a place where we can take pictures to remember them by. So who said virtual interaction is not real?
This ties with a larger project I have in mind, where I would print each website out on paper. Because we never know if the virtual memory a.k.a the Internet, or if our physical memory of it will last. By printing them out, they are literally immortalized and resolves the two problems mentioned. However, that said, the memory might still be lost if the paper goes missing, or starts to wear and tear from age.
As I began to share my memories increasingly, I started participating in the act of “oversharing” by over-revealing what I am doing – but “nothing at the same time”. Just like Hasan Elahi in “Tracking Transcience 2.0” where he tracked his whereabouts and tells the world of the mundane things that he is doing, mine are not purposefully mundane as I think my life and my interactions are pretty interesting.
I guess the main inspiration for FRAME.SG is Ian Aleksander Adams of Friendster Friday (2012) where he demonstrated that even during our class, he was posting up screenshots on Friendster Friday.
A New Ability Unlocked
I also discovered something which I could do with these domains that I have. I can forward each of the domains to any web URL I wanted. I could have suicide.sg pointing to the White House homepage without their prior approval. Effectively curating an unsuspecting website into my domain.
One of the key reasons why there are plenty of “virgin” .sg domains because a .sg domain can only be registered with a Singaporean Identity Card number. Would the .sg domains have been snapped up if it was available to the world? Of course, it would be due to the wider consumer base.
Is Singapore’s stifling education and society to be blamed for this “don’t waste money”/ “don’t take risks” mentality? There is not enough freedom for expression here in this squeaky clean country. No street art, no graffiti. Kids are just too afraid to get caught or do the wrong things. This web art movement is taking the graffiti to the internet by allowing artists to express themselves freely with their given virtual space.