[NetBehaviour] Art in Cyberspace - Jan. 96.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Sat Jan 5 17:02:54 CET 2008

Art in Cyberspace - Jan. 96.

Art in Cyberspace: Can It Live Without a Body?

THE LEVELS RISE UP ENDLESSLY. The structure is immense, intricate, a 
circular web of connecting cells grotesque in sheer girth, with no 
vanishing point in sight. The image is "The Tower of Babel," by Pieter 
Bruegel the Elder. And now, 433 years after Bruegel painted it, a 
computer search to find the picture on line proves tellingly, 
deliciously labyrinthine. It's a voyage into a virtual world that, 
depending on your point of view, either complements the world of 
physical objects or threatens to subsume it.

Using Yahoo!, a directory service on the global Internet that says it 
can locate more than 10 million cyberspace addresses, a search for The 
Tower of Babel calls up 422 entries, from Biblical references to 
programming-language chatter. But not a single one reveals an on-line 
location for the painting.

Another directory, Lycos, and another search, for Vienna 
Kunsthistorisches, the museum that owns the picture, brings up 5,128 
more entries. Nice if you happen to have the next 12 months free to 
noodle dreamily through the delirium of information. But who can resist 
looking at "Austria's Imperial Cities," an exhibition at the museum, or 
reading through an illustrated history of Gustav Klimt, or even spending 
time with Vienna Online, which delivers local weather and 18 other 
Austrian on-line connections? Still, no luck with the painting in question.


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