The Stillman Projects/Concept

"The Stillman Projects" is an ongoing collaboration between Jan Ekenberg and Lisa Jevbratt which dates back to the Spring of 1996 when the idea was first implemented as a non-networked demo. The project was a response to the merging of reading and writing in hypertextual systems. The main idea was to be able to follow another user through the text or "slip" on frequently, or infrequently, used links and create trails through a hypertext. The name "Stillman" is borrowed from Paul Auster's novel, City of Glass, in which the character, Daniel Quinn, is paid to follow Peter Stillman Senior through the streets of New York City. At first, Quinn is focusing on Stillman's behavior on a "street scale" level; mainly what kind of junk he is picking up from the ground. After a number of days, Quinn becomes increasingly hopeless when Stillman's doings still seem random and meaningless and tries something new; he starts sketching the movements of Stillman from a birds eye perspective. Each day's walk seems to have spelled a letter, mapped out by the grid system of the streets of Manhattan. And the letters seem to spell out words. Only when Quinn maps his information differently does it become meaningful.
"The Stillman Projects" is a parasitic art-system for leaving and/or following trails or paths (French "trace", Swedish "spår") in hypertexts. It is a system that encourages being lost, with the text trails as a safety or navigational help. It utilizes the World Wide Web as a network with memory, showing signs of habitation by builders/spectators of (THE T)OWER OF BAB(EL).
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