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
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grid in which we circulate is superseded by that of a formless, infinite,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 taking hold.
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