UBC | Digital Visions
Digital Visions
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The 12hr-ISBN-JPEG Project

Communication has come a long way in a very short period of time. In the last fifty years the advent of the computer, the cellular phone, the internet, email, and the fax machine, to name a few, have come to the foreground. In a day and age where everything is going faster, where technology is taking over, and where the world is getting smaller, worldwide communication is blowing up, one needs to consider how the advent of web based information gathering, emailing, online chatting, online gaming, long distance telephoning, and text messaging has made worldwide communication very simple.

Kevin Hamilton is interested in exploring this phenomenon. He is interested in the idea of experiences mediated social interaction. "The Other End," his web net art available at www.theotherend.net, seeks to make light of this phenomenon.

"The Other End" utilizes a simple concept strategy. Almost a like game, the goal is to see if anyone is "out there." Users who visit the page at the same time can send live signals to each other using their computer spacebar to light up the page's two indicator lights - one labeled "you," the other labeled "someone else." It is an art project rooted in communication. It attempts, in the artist's words, "to produce a maximum of presence with a minimum of data. It is an experiment in using high-bandwidth means for low-bandwidth ends."* It is meant to break down the idea of communication and represent it by its bare minimum sign-a dot on and off.
When contemplating this project one considers the frustration and impersonality of online exchange. Imagination, belief, and humility followed by the continuing blinking light on and off help represent the artist's issue in regarding communication at its most reduced level.

"The Other End" is about imagination. The user is left with a blinking red light, one red light and another light labeled, "someone else out there."

KH: "Imagination is a big part of it; I might rather talk about it as 'belief.' I'm interested in this project (and my other current projects) in how much of our use of tele-communicative technologies rely on belief, or the faith in the connection. We have to imagine the space on the other end of our connection, often with a minimal amount of empirical data. On the phone or CB radio, a small audible click can signify a presence. On a chat room, the progression of new lines of text down the screen creates a moving index of life, of activity. We construct in these instances an incredible amount of knowledge based on a small amount of information."*

He was "interested in setting up a high-tech situation that facilitates a lot of data, and then using it in a dumb, low tech way in which little information is actually conveyed."

* Quotes taken from the interview with Kevin Hamilton

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Site: http://www.theotherend.net