Brad Miller and McKenzie Wark
Planet of Noise


Brad Miller is a multimedia artist who works at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. His CD-Rom, Digital Rhizome, has been exhibited at many international venues. With backrounds in electrical engineering, graphic design, and sculpture, Brad recently has been researching networked GUI design for the Sydney University Architectural Design and Computing Department. He was co-producer of Diminishing Dimensions for ABC Radio National, a program that explores the implications of nanotechnology. McKenzie Wark lectures in media studies at Macquarie University and is the author of two books. Virtual Geography (Indiana University Press), explores the global dimension to news media events. Virtual Republic (Allen & Unwin) looks at the problem of reinventing Australian culture in the flux of global media flows. The writing that became part of Planet of Noise began as a series of experiments in writing simple hypertext in html format. Mckenzie

Conceptual Description

Planet of Noise Have you ever wondered about what gets left of the big bright bold future promised by the unholy alliance of free-market capitalism and information technology? That's the starting point, or one of starting points for Planet of Noise. Info tech is supposed to make the world over as a world of optimism and choice, where information circulates with pure speed, unimpeded. Somehow, it doesn't seem to be working out that way. Multi Hyper Cyber Dig Info. Everything does not quite work as advertised. The information society flickers on the surface of a planet of noise. So how could we make art that reflected another kind of experience of information? Or more particularly, of the dark side of information--noise? One strategy was to take away the illusion of choice that's built into a lot of 'interactive' art. You can press this button or that button, but you have no choice but to press buttons. Planet of Noise exploits the little discussed ability of the multimedia format to empower the artist, not the user, by restricting the choices open to the user. Interactive worlds are ordered worlds, where the user makes rational choices between the branching pathways. But not the Planet of Noise. Choice is absent. The user follows the pathways the artists make. There are different 'zones' on this planet, different terrains of experience. But once you choose one, the procedings are determined by the artists. But things are not quite as they seem. The contents of the zones don't match their place names. Each describes a set of sounds, colors, words that is so fuzzy as to hardly qualify as a set at all. And so we have the two sides of noise, that lingering residue on the dark side of information: arbitrary order and the chaos of difference. But Planet of Noise does hold out some kind of hope, even as it throws the user unaided into this bewildering world. The aim of this orchestration of color and texture, word and sound, is to provide zones in which to meditate on the experience of immersion in information itself. It is a map to a world that changes every second. It uses the writing techniques of the zen koan and the western aphorism to provide the jolt of misrecognizing who we are or where we are. It is a map, not for finding one's way, but for losing it.