THE ON-LINE TERRITORY
by Annick BUREAUD
The "Territory of the Square Metre" emphasized various
status symbols : a red telephone, remote control rooms,
electronic guards, a communications centre, etc... The "on-line
Territory" introduces metacommunication and metasymbols into
the non-material and symbolic network space.
With the " on-line Territory" Fred Forest moves from the Art of
Communication to the Art of Networks, with two main
objectives in mind. The first being "Webness"
(a term borrowed from the jury of Prix Ars Electronica), based on
hyperlinks created or set in motion by the
World Wide Web artists. The second aim is to
highlight the existence of a worldwide community.
The Art of Communication aimed to make the public aware of the
internal meshwork of our planet through the new technologies of communication...
With the Art of Networks, it is a question of inhabiting a space
in which information rather than people are made to travel,
this being a modern form of nomadism; individuals no longer "move"
about the territory but "become" the territory. Gibson's metaphore
of a mathematical grid in which we circulate
is superseded by that of a formless, infinite, constantly changing set
reconfiguring itself at each new moment of connection. A space fitted to each person and only materializing into a given form in the physical space
of a given person (computer, office, etc...) or his mental one (hence, bodily space), at a given time.
The human psyche and body form the heart of
cyberspace. The skin is no more an impenetrable frontier covering an
intangible body. In inviting kindred beings to send a symbolic part of themselves, the foot, for this first undertaking, Fred Forest shows his
masterly grip of the concept. Each person on sending a footprint
may become a participant in the worldwide communication that is
Fred Forest did not choose the terminal member of the body gratuitously. Over
and above the light-hearted and comical aspect attached to it, the first footstep
is a reflection of the very essence of Mankind: Armstrong's footprint.