New Media

The picture above is not a microscopic image of a complicated crystalline structure. It is not a spider web or a growing colony of bacteria. It is not a fractal image, produced by digital imaging workstations. It is a map, though a map of the most complicated creation in the history of human civilization: the internet.

The Labyrinth and the Encyclopedia are concepts central to the work of both Eco and Calvino. They are similar in structure, and the picture above could represent either of them. It could represent the passages, dead ends, and convolutions of a nearly endless maze. Or it could be a vast, interconnected database of information.

So what is the Internet, and how will its composition affect the future of art? Is the Internet as great a resource as many proponents of new media argue it is, saying that it is the greatest store of knowledge in the history of mankind? Or is it a labyrinth, whose function is not to inform, but to confuse?

In the end, it must be both. The difference between a labyrinth and a maze is not built into the structure, but resides in the will of the seeker.

img: The Internet (Colored by distance from host), The Internet Mapping Project, Lumeta Corporation