Z I N E n
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a journal of new media experimental visual literary theory practice


Ted Warnell


Features, reviews, papers

A&T 01/08/98: The world's first deconstructed Web site no longer available on the Internet. New media art.

First published as A&T 01/08/98 at Art & Technology, The Mining Company, New York. Copyright © 1998 by The Mining Company and Ted Warnell. All rights reserved.


1998 JAN 8

File Not Found 404

From File Not Found 404,
a conceptual work by Canadian artist T.S. Thomas:

    "What you have found is the world's first deconstructed Web site no longer available on the Internet."

    "The original 37 pages (or digital entries, URLs) of our mythical Web site sit digitally archived in a file folder on a particular machine at a particular locale in British Columbia, Canada."

You are looking at the Web/the site as medium, idea, work. Here it is difficult to distinguish where one and the other start and end. And that is (part of) the idea.

Theory -- the artist asks us to consider current issues of new media theory:

    "What... constitutes originality or the notion of 'one of a kind' in the simulacrum of the digital world?"
Poetry -- a change from conceptual/theoretical:
    "It is December 21, 1997. Northern Hemisphere winter solstice. The sun barely clears the trees for a couple of hours flooding a few patches of ground behind the house. I stand basking my face for several minutes, squinting hard. Pastel coloured refractions forming concentric circles and waves dance wildly through my eyelashes. I begin anew."
Ideas -- drift in and out of the medium/the work:
    "You're at the end of the Internet. The last stop in Cyberspace. What do you see?"

    "Blah Blah Blah is like 404. An empty phrase having infiltrated our vernacular. How empty? Not a day goes by without overhearing it in conversation. An expression at once dismissive of and pregnant with meaning. A verbal shortcut, a filler, a value-added embellishment, an alias, a substitute, a generality of a specific order. Of course, its meaning depends entirely on context."

In the end -- File Not Found 404 is:
    "...a shadow of its former self. An empty shell. A blank screen. A sign-post, a reference pointing to a source without a name. An index to an archive of experience waiting to be reborn. An old space open to new possibilities. A dense, opaque seed scattered throughout the Web. It is empty yet full."


File Not Found 404

This work is conceptual,
no doubt, and pregnant with meaning on multiple levels. Your own perception and interpretation is key to your appreciation of the work, so I will refrain from saying too much more, except -- when you visit, take note of the presentation... this is new media art at the end of the Internet, the last stop in cyberspace.

Finally, A&T visitors might like to know T.S. Thomas is active in public art projects since 1991. He is best known for new poetry venue text installations utilizing large letters outdoors, which works entail a dynamic interplay of mixed media -- literary, visual, and theatrical -- incorporating spontaneous encounters with the public as an integral part of the art. Visit this site. Enjoy.

Email this week,
and with reference to Whole Brain Atlas A&T 12/11/97, this reminder of a real need for brain donations:

    Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 02:48:08
    From: PURDYzKAT <>
    Subject: Brain Bank?

    When I tried to search for the Brain Bank, nothing was found. I think McLean Hospital is your affiliate, but should you not let people know that "brains" are needed for research especially for Mental Illness?

    Mine is going to be donated. I know you don't get many. This is a good place to put it in big letters.

    Date: Mon, 5 Jan 1998 12:31:59
    From: PURDYzKAT <>
    Subject: Re: Brain Bank?

    You might also stress that they need healthy brains as well as "sick" brains. Without this research, we are doomed. It is not like an "organ" donor. You can't just put it on your drivers license. Contact: Harvard Psychiatry Brain Collection @ 1-800-BRAINBANK

    "From knowledge will come a cure."



A&T visitors interested to learn more about the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center at McLean Hospital can call the 800 number or visit:

Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center

Thank you, KAT.

    Image clips and quoted texts from the Web site File Not Found 404. Used by permission. Brain Bank email posted by permission.
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Copyright © 1998 Ted Warnell. All Rights Reserved