Mark Napier

 

Born in Springfield, New Jersey, 1961
Lives in New York

Riot, 1999

www.potatoland.org/riot

Website, computer, screen

Mark Napierís Riot is an alternative, "cross-content" Web browser. Like its real-world namesake, Riot disrupts the accepted rules of property and exposes the fragility of territorial boundaries. Inspired by the clashing classes and ideologies of New York's Lower East Side, Napier created a software "melting pot," a blender that mixes Web pages from separate domains into one browser window. The basic functionality of Riot is still rooted in traditional browser conventions: you surf the Web by entering a URL into the location bar, or by selecting from bookmarks. Unlike conventional browsers, however, Riot builds its pages by combining text, images, and links from the pages any user has recently viewed.

In this way, Napierís project challenges and dissolves traditional ideas of territory, ownership, and authority by squeezing different sitesí information, brand names, and corporate logos into one page. The official Vatican site mixes with Hell.com; Microsoft.com bumps up against the hacker quearterly 2600.org. Content and ideologies clash and merge as Riot dissolves territorial conventions such as domains, sites, and pages. The result is a beautiful composite based on a form of "controlled randomness" that is produced both by the user's actions and the parameters set by the artist.

On the Internet, physical territory and objects are replaced with experiences produced by hardware and software, data and instructions. Information can be recycled and reproduced in seemingly endless ways and distributed in ever-shifting contexts; the alternative space of the Net ultimately resists our traditional, physical model of ownership, copyright, and branding. Although domain names are widely considered "virtual real estate"--a terrain that we buy and own--the nature of the network itself doesnít support this notion. With boisterous visuals, Riot questions the assumption that "content is king," dethroning that ruler by undermining control over displaying and separating content, treating it as raw material for aesthetic experiments.


James
Buckhouse

Mary
Flanagan

Benjamin
Fry

Lisa
Jevbratt

Yael
Kanarek

John
Klima

Margot
Lovejoy


Mark
Napier


Robert
Nideffer

Josh On
& Futurefarmers