The Dark Side
George Lucas brought filmmaking into the digital age. His marketing department has brought Star Wars to the Web.
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March 12, 1997|
It's no accident that imaginative Web designers often refer to a Web site's "architecture": they strive to create virtual space, which -- like real space -- possesses depth and multidimensionality. A good case in point is a Web site that resides on "Art on the Net," a collection of artists' sites, called "Art of Barrie."
Like the other artists whose sites are hosted by "Art on the Net," Barrie Jones -- a painter who lives in the Smoky Mountain region of Tennessee -- makes use of his area to display and promote his work. But unlike most of the other artists' sites, "Art of Barrie" does not just consist of lists and indexes and rows of reproductions of art. Rather, Barrie's area -- reached through a "door" after ringing a "doorbell" -- has rooms with pictures on the walls, bookshelves with books that can be pulled down and paged through, and galleries that can only be accessed through the doorways of certain other galleries. Hidden in the vaults of the site is a document recounting a traumatic event that has profoundly affected Barrie's art. "As you descend through the levels of the building," reads an explanation at the Information Desk in the Lobby, "you will travel back in time until you reach the very roots of my art." The idea of a "dark secret" at the core of this site strongly reinforces the sense of interiority -- like Barrie's work itself, this site is a space metaphorically built upon a meaningful foundation.
A visit to this site is an experience of ins and outs, ups and downs; it's not an encounter with information listed on a page. The technology and programming skills needed to create such a space do not differ substantially from those required for creating more conventional "flat" pages on the Web; but the impact can be much greater and more nuanced. Barrie's paintings and drawings may or may not be great works of art, but his approach to Web design deserves a considered look.
Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.