TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT May 1999

Mr. Potatoland

Mark Napier, a painter who moonlights as a database software designer, traded his acrylics for HTML and has since created a series of hyperlinked webpages (www. potatoland.org/pl.htm) that attempt to explore the mutability of the fledgling medium. Napier's site features two wicked little HTML search-and-destroy engines——The Shredder and Digital Landfill——that encourage visitors to mutilate and trash the web-sites of their choice.
 
The Shredder (potatoland.org/shredder), true to its name, rips the facade off even the most elegantly designed webpage, revealing endless lines of HTML code and links, then scrambles it all into digital hash. The Digital Landfill (potatoland.org/landfilI) is a virtual sump into which Web surfers can dump the inaesthetic effluent they wade through every day on the Net, adding unwanted pages to an ever-expanding pile of junk, thereby creating unintentional, often absurd, juxtapositions—an animated GIF of a rave pulsating on an advanced mathematics page, for example.
 
While Napier's digital deconstructions are mildly diverting, they remain as unabashedly pointless as the content they are designed to trash. For all his clearly noble intentions—to expose the hidden mechanisms behind Web design and Internet iconography—Napier might make better use of his coding skills by designing a Netscape plug-in that disables pop-up windows or erases advertising banners. That would be the ultimate hack, perhaps even a great work of public art.
 
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Andrew Hulktrans.