Sawad Brooks and Beth Stryker



Sawad Brooks (b. 1964)
Beth Stryker (b. 1970)
DissemiNET, 1998
Website, networked installation, telematic tables, computers, and projectors
Commissioned in part by the Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University, Columbus

DissemiNET is a curated and public participatory system conceived to elaborate a diaspora on the web. DissemiNET uses Internet technologies to give visual form to the transactions (deposits, retrievals, and loss) through which we experience memory. Drawing parallels between real diasporas and the dispersal of meaning over the web, DissemiNET provides spaces (lacunae) in which people recollect and retell stories about their own experiences with homelessness and dispersal. DissemiNET was seeded with a set of testimonies collected by Pro Búsqueda de Los Niños—an organization that helps locate children who have disappeared during El Salvador’s twelve-year civil war.

In the DissemiNET installation, two telematic instruments function as interfaces between the transient public space of the gallery and the cumulative public webspace of DissemiNET. Providing a gathering space and region for dispatches to DissemiNET, these freestanding hardware/software interfaces to a local community are designed for multi-user viewing and input (collection) and output (recollection). The collection of stories may be harvested and read by users in relation to searchable keywords or themes (words and phrases which the search engine may match or exclude). Key concepts are automatically indexed throughout the system, so users can pursue themes across the database of stories as it evolves. Influenced by viewers’ navigation, video vignettes and text shuttle horizontally and are reconfigured as themes are selected. At this point, the system searches for and returns fragments of texts containing words that are visually or syntactically similar, and displays them on the “Crossroads Interface,” creating new crossroads/connections among stories.



Marek Walczak and
Martin Wattenberg

Beth Stryker and
Sawad Brooks