About the Shredder

Why Shred the Web?

The web is not a publication. Web sites are not paper. Yet the current thinking of web design is that of the magazine, newspaper, book, or catalog. Visually, aesthetically, legally, the web is treated as a physical page upon which text and images are written.

Web pages are temporary graphic images created when browsing software interprets HTML instructions. As long as all browsers agree (at least somewhat) on the conventions of HTML there is the illusion of solidity or permanence in the web. But behind the graphical illusion is a vast body of text files -- containing HTML code -- that fills hard drives on computers at locations all over the world. Collectively these instructions make up what we call 'the web'. But what if these instructions are interpreted differently than intended? Perhaps radically differently?

The web browser is an organ of perception through which we 'see' the web. It filters and organizes a huge mass of structured information that spans continents, is constantly growing, reorganizing itself, shifting its appearance, evolving. The Shredder presents this global structure as a chaotic, irrational, raucous "action painting". By altering the HTML code before the browser reads it, the Shredder appropriates the data of the web, transforming it into a parallel web. Content become abstraction. Text becomes graphics. Information becomes art.

Mark Napier, (December 1998)

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