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New online art exhibit at TERMINALapsu.org reinterprets classic American literature

12/5/2011

            CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The video clips seem to be strung together randomly, with no connection to each other at all. They include a ship tossing in the waves of a storm, a close-up shot of a stuffed animal’s eyes and a music video for the rock band Heart’s 1986 hit “These Dreams.”

            But these aren’t simply arbitrary videos compiled from the Internet. The media artist xtine burrough found the clips by typing keywords from Walt Whitman’s 1865 poem commemorating the death of President Abraham Lincoln, “O Captain, My Captain,” into the website YouTube. The resulting videos have been linked together to create a new piece of Web art, “O BROWSER, MY BROWSER,” an allegory on “the impending death of the Web,” she said.

           The work is a part of a new exhibit, “Browser Poems by xtine burrough,” which opened last month on the website TERMINALapsu.org, a space sponsored by Austin Peay State University’s Department of Art and the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts to showcase and examine Internet and new media art.

            In addition to “O BROWSER, MY BROWSER,” the exhibit offers new interpretations of two other classic works of American literature – Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road” and Adrienne Rich’s poem “Waiting For You at the Mystery Spot.” Burrough created these works using hyper text markup language (HTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS), both Web-based languages.

        For the piece, “On the Web,” she presents the original, single scroll of paper that Kerouac famously typed his novel on, but she replaces all instances of the word “road” with the word “browser.”

        In burrough’s piece based on Rich’s poem “Waiting For You at the Mystery Spot,” she invites viewers to find the “mystery spot” link on a screen featuring floating text from the poem. The link takes visitors to the website www.mysteryspot.com, which promotes a strange, alternative tourist destination in California.

       Burrough, co-author of Digital Foundations (2009), is a renowned media artist who, according to the TerminalAPSU.org site, “uses social networking, databases, search engines, blogs and applications in combination with popular sites like Facebook, YouTube, or Mechanical Turk, to create web communities promoting interpretation and autonomy.”

       For more information on the artist or her online exhibit, contact APSU associate professor of art Barry Jones at jonesb@apsu.edu.