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The images were collected together in a database (now comprising about 1300 items and c100,000 words), the images were batch-processed in Photoshop and imported into Adobe Director (an animation and authoring application), where they were arranged, edited, sequenced and arrayed as a rapid montage of stills, and then output to Quicktime video format. These sequences were then edited and composited with Ballet Mecanique in Adobe Premiere – a ‘non-linear’ video-editing program – and subsequently formatted as DVD or Quicktime movies.

Why? Because I’m fascinated with the developing history of new media. I was born in 1945 – the year American Scientist and computer-pioneer Vannevar Bush described an imaginary technology called the Memex (As We May Think, 1945)

– a description of a machine for storing and linking documents (a MEMory EXtension)- which has inspired inventors ever since, including Douglas Engelbart (the mouse, 1965), the Sketchpad by Donald Sutherland (1963), Hypertext and Hypermedia (Ted Nelson 1960s), the Dynabook idea by Alan Kay (1969), Bill Atkinson’s Hypercard for the Mac (1988)  and perhaps indirectly the Internet (1969-75), and the World Wide Web ((Hypertext Mark-up language 1991). So I have witnessed the last sixty odd years of these important phase-shifts in our history.

It was a period that saw the development of digital computers, artificial intelligence, the ARPANET, then the INTERNET, and then the WWW, and today’s broadband networks. It saw the invention of the mobile phone, the creation of cellular networks covering much of the planet, and the development of cable television, satellite world-around television, digital television, and HDTV. And it also included the invention and development of computer graphics, computer simulation, video games and virtual reality. What’s not to get excited about? How would Diaghilev – or Wagner? – have integrated all these artists toys into a modern gesamptkunstswerk? What would El Lissitzky make of the real-world Electro-Library he glimpsed in 1925?

It is remarkable to me that many of the ideas that underpin our information-sharing, computer-mediated, networked-planet stem from the early years of Modernism – the first decades of the last century. Ideas of the Russian Constructivists and Suprematists – El Lissitzky’s mention of an Electro-Library in 1923 for example, or HG Wells description of a World Brain (universal encyclopedia) in 1938, Teilhard de Chardin’s idea of an informational ‘noosphere’ – enveloping the physical world (1925). and Paul Otlet’s description of a World Information Repository (the Mundunaeum, 1934)


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