The Work

At first glance, Own, Be Owned or Remain Invisible is a visually elegant example of using the Web's hyperlinking facility to highlight, literally, corporate ownership of words embedded in domain names. For example, On first viewing the page, all the words are light grey
<link="#a0a0a0"> or off-white <text="#e0e0e0"> . Against a white background, the text is barely visible. As you click on linked words, they become black, wherever they are repeated in the text, like un-erasing a blackboard. The implication, it seems, is that what is owned, becomes visible and what is unowned is invisible, which is close to the <title> of the document.

What is a bit confusing conceptually is that linked words become visible--black--whether or not they are "owned." In fact, you are just as likely to get the message "The server does not have a DNS entry" as log onto a corporate Web site. Of course, these exceptions can be viewed as potential domains to snap up and only serve to prove the rule: ownership of language is the commodification of culture and our beloved Internet, where information "wants to be free," is in danger of being overrun.

Still, the choice of which words can be made visible and which remain muted is not a function of which are owned, it is a function of those that the artist has identified/coded as links. The source code of the page looks something like this:

<A HREF="">THE</A>
<a href="">WIRED</a>
<a href="">50</a>:
<a href="">is</a>
<a href="">on</a>
<a href="">a</a>
<a href="">mission</a>.
<a href="">But</a>
<a href="http://www.don'">don't</a>
<a href="">asking</a>
<a href="">him</a>
<a href="">to</a>
Almost every word is linked to "" If we comment out all the linked words, this is how the text of Own, Be Owned or Remain Invisible would appear.

Heath Bunting Heath Bunting flyposter, graffiti artist art radio pirate bulletin board Heath Kings Cross phone-in, Heath Heath. mother bogus Glaxo
website Heath Heath Heath Anti with E Backspace cyberlounge Heath, Heath CCTV marketing databases. create disbelief. Heath

These words all relate to Bunting, his family, his work, and his beliefs ("create disbelief"). In essence, they are the words he is taking ownership of. On the surface, they are invisible, but under the surface, in the code, he's keeping them, hanging onto his identity. It's not insignificant, however, that the code comes to the surface by merely selecting "View Source." It's not that there is anything essential or core in this "found" text by a newspaper reporter, but Bunting is making a choice about its contents. Not a bad metaphor for identity in the Net age.

--Steve Dietz


Build a site which uses outside links as an integral part of it's identity and construction. Other sites and outside links should be built into the very fabric of your site, conceptually and practically and should add to, expand or actually create the meanings attached to your site. In this project, you are emphasizing, rather than ignoring the large context (THE WEB!) in which your work is placed.
--Natlie Bookchin, Computing in the Arts: Final Assignment is one of the most irreverent, but meaningful sites on the internet.  They push the technical boundaries while staying true to some of the basic concepts of fine art, mainly the redefining of who we are as a culture and how we are transforming ourselves into a new culture.

This is just the most telling site (artistic or otherwise) that I've ever come across. With a very simple idea it manages to say more about the web than a year's subscription to Wired would ever tell you. It's not so much a biography of any individual, but it becomes a biography of the web itself.

See Lisa Hutton's Cyber*Babes and Daniel Andujar's "Language Property" in Technnologies® To the People for other projects regarding the regulation and "corporatizaton" of the Internet.

"Along the endless boundary of the interface, nothing is hiding."
Mark C. Taylor, Hiding