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Man and Sin, Shooting in the dark

last modified 2005-11-25 23:14

GEOFFREY SHEA offers two programs in the NCC05

I have two programs I would like to offer in the NetArt programme of Shift 3. Both deal, in part, with the inadequacies of the web as a presentation system: in the first, because of its reliance on a computer monitor for display, and in the second, for its reliance on visual content. These are ongoing works which would be premiered at NCC05.

  1. Man and Sin

A streaming web work which is based on maps and other 2D digital images which are approximately ten times bigger than can be displayed on a monitor or projector. Users can move around in this giant flat space by pushing the mouse towards one edge of the frame or another, but only 1% of the whole image can be seen at one moment. Sin (or transgression, or failure to achieve) is a sort of technology engineered to shape human perceptions and actions. On a certain level it is a very useful tool for smoothing social interaction and guiding us towards improvement.

But typically it requires a huge element of faith: the belief that questions we cannot answer can be dealt with by other means; these ambiguous guideposts can point us towards some destination far over the horizon.

Other engineered technologies (such as the web and art) have parallel functions: steering us, if we are willing to climb on board, but to where we do not know.

Man and Sin mimics this confusing sense of order by providing images which at first appear very concrete and clear but become increasingly ambiguous the longer we spend with them.

Technical: This is a series of streaming Flash files with audio. Video projection and sound amplification would be the best presentation option, with one control mouse available somewhere in the space for one participant to steer with. Two samples can be seen online currently at

  1. Shooting in the Dark

This streaming web audio work is based on a conversation with Norman White, a Canadian pioneer in robotic and electronic art. Norman was pivotal in the creation of the Photo-Electric Art Department of the Ontario College of Art in the late 1970s. Without much institutional support he helped start a whole generation of post-McLuhan artists.

The work consists entirely of sound (voice, music, samples) which the user navigates with a mouse while sitting in front of a computer with a blank screen. The effect is to disorient the web-savvy audience, in part re-creating the exhilaration and frustration that comes with any new form of art expression (such as Norman was involved with), but it also follows on the theme of interrogating the visual bias of information presentation. (Remember, it is a blank screen, as opposed to no screen at all.)

Technical: These are streaming Flash audio files best presented in an intimate setting, for example, at a table mounted workstation with headphones.

Let me know if you need anything else or if there will be an opportunity for testing before the event.

If you need more info about me it is probably at You can also see recent online projects at and