Se][wo][man.tic.kler on Wed, 17 Apr 2002 03:25:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Review: _][ad][Dressed in a Skin C.ode_

no idea y this didn't get thru to nettime-1....... trying again.......

The Net.Wurk Series _][ad][Dressed in a Skin C.ode_
by Scott Esdaile (c) 2002

How often have you expectantly visited a so called "innovative, new media" 
website with its tags of "highly interactive and engaging content" only to 
find that its creator's idea of interactivity is to force-feed the user a 
new page of information every time they click a "next page" button? This is 
definitely not the case with Australian net artist (net.artist) Mez's 
recent venture into the realm of the hypertextual with her 
<>_][ad][Dressed in a Skin C.ode_, a 
captivating anthology of non-linear literary works distributed through 
email lists.

In the creation of texts and poetic forms, Mez utilises her unique 
"mezangelle" language which appropriates features of code and programming 
syntax then combines these with plays on symbols and language to alter or 
enhance meanings. Upon initial contact with "mezangelle," many viewers may 
find it unsettling due to its ambiguous punctuation, abstract grammar, 
syllabic dissection and the subsequent slowed reading speed. However, once 
whatever original discomfort is overcome, the ingenuity of the "mezangelle" 
language as a literary technique or device really starts to assert itself. 
It allows Mez to extend her work beyond the boundaries of more conventional 
literary mediums and coaxes the viewer to construct new meanings for 
themselves of what it is they're engaging with on screen.

The works (net.wurks) contained within _][ad][Dressed in a Skin C.ode_ can 
be viewed as either singular texts, or as enhanced (n.hanced) works which 
utilise JavaScript and Flash to extend the user's conceptualisations even 
further. Rollovers and segments of audio are also effectively implemented 
within these enhanced works, with the sound samples used having at times a 
grating, yet organic quality about them which can be quite unnerving.

Originally, the navigation and interface design of _][ad][Dressed in a Skin 
C.ode_ may be fairly confusing and unorthodox (particularly the difficult 
to read fonts and the directory of enhanced texts, with its arrays of what 
appear to be linked buttons), until it is realised that Mez has not set out 
to create a site that conforms to usability guidelines and commercially 
driven ideologies. This is a site that allows the user parallel or 
simultaneous understandings of the content, while instigating "non-linear 
and imaginative order" into the vocabulary of electronic communication.

Viewed as one of the most "consistent, prolific and innovative artists 
working in new media today," Mez was the recipient of JavaMuseum's Artist 
of the Year Award for 2001, the 2001 VIF Prize from Humboldt University, as 
well as placed on the shortlist for the 2001 Electronic Literature 
Organisation's Fiction Award. Her review of jodi's _untitled-game_ written 
in "mezangelle," can be seen 
in last month's issue of fineArt forum.

Mez's _][ad][Dressed in a Skin C.ode_ is an excellent example of the notion 
of web "spaces" as opposed to web pages and through the use of the 
"mezangelle" language system and syntax, it is a highly thought-provoking 
and stimulating collection of textual works. Intended to expand and extract 
upon a user's perceptions and conceptualisations, these works will leave 
you feeling somewhat enlightened and enriched by their required level of 
comprehension and engagement.

- Scott Esdaile, fine Arts forum.

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