The Web doesn’t really need to be a tedious flattened space of menus and pages and sidebars distributed in logical, hierarchical order. No! Rather, it can be a trip into the unknown, the unexpected, the irrational. You simply don’t always need to know where you are going. Artists have forever excavated the possibilities of imagined space in volatile ways, deconstructing and reordering the layers of possibilities. On the Web, this means the labyrinthine infrastructure of hyperconnections. Jodi.org or Mark Napier or Mark Amerika or Curt Cloninger immediately come to mind but there are many, many more. Yet with the tyranny of the content management system imposing order on the Web, fortunately a few intrepid artists and designers will find ways to contradict the expected surfaces of navigational travel in hyperspace.
This brings me to parallax scrolling, which has within the past few years introduced a multi-perspective, quasi three-dimensional view as a navigational strategy. My only fear is that this technique may become so addictive that it will raise the ugly specter of cliché before too long. But that is the task at hand for the artist: to simplify or complicate techniques and ideas to such an extent that they become their own. Take Douglas Davis’ World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence, for example, a sprawling, epic, scrolling, stream-of-consciousness collective writing experiment from the mid-1990s. How simple can one elongated sentence be with absolutely zero design? That is the beauty of artistically drilling down to the extravagant depths of remote possibilities.
So returning to the parallax scroll, what we have here is a stroll down browser lane, in which texts and images and video and any other elements you can concoct move and float up the screen as shifting, layered elements with a pseudo depth of focus: meaning the layered elements move at different speeds. All you have to do is scroll, with your mouse, or better yet, a smooth, buttery glide across the trackpad, blissfully falling, falling, falling, down, down, down as memories float up and up and into a strange, imaginary trajectory that seems to have no end, until eventually, finally, you hit the bottom of the page. THE END.
Ah, but on the Web, there never needs to be an end (nor a middle or a beginning), the next jump is only a click away to somewhere or maybe nowhere in this virtual space of the scrolling depths going down into the rabbit hole of a long Web page.