Followed a trail today. I noticed that Boynton linked to an interesting page: The Untitled Project. Following the link, there is a description of an exhibition/artist’s book which consists of digital photographs of urban scenes with all the text removed, or rather, transplanted onto a facing sheet. The central concept is that even with the text removed, we still are able to decode the visual presence of the corporate entities who have inscribed their message on the landscape. The images are eerie. I love them. I only wish they were available in a standard publication, because I’m not that rich.

But the question for me was—who did this? I followed the link that Boynton marked as originating it. It is a log of nothing more than links, which dump out at the same page. That page, if you trace it to the gallery affiliation at the bottom opens up in a flash-type window, leaving you with no context. But if you check the artists list at the gallery to locate the project name, eventually you can find that the referenced page is from a frameset within Matt Siber photography.

Siber’s other projects look interesting as well. I always feel more comfortable when I know a name. It’s part of assigning agency to creative works. I am uncomfortable with decontextualization that way. I like to know who is doing what, a process often denied by the nature of some web technologies. The web bothers me a great deal in that respect. An act, when no one performs it, is passive. That is one of the strange things about the protective maneuvers that attempt to shepherd access. Though they mean well (control of the surfing experience), the end result is that communicative acts become passive, and render us passive as readers. Just click, look, graze for content and move on.

It is a bit like watching TV with the sound turned down. Random visual bits, devoid of agency— an interesting aesthetic experience, but ultimately unsatisfying unless you dig more deeply to locate the controls.

3 thoughts on “Decon(text)ulizing”

  1. Whoops. I agree about the need for context, and the ‘dumb’ webscape of frames extracted from framesets. An oversight, and I will ammend my post to include your findings.
    (My source was the link-log part of an excellent blog btw)
    And we can blame the use of frames for causing some of this context-stripping?

  2. de texted

    The Untitled Project is a series of photographs of urban settings accompanied by a graphical text layout. The photographs have been digitally stripped of all traces of textual information (via Making Light) (Update. This Public Address has placed the f…

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