by Lisa Jevbratt
The web in general, and the Rhizome community in particular, is an environment for discussion and exchange. The actions we take, the pages we visit, and the objects we select are all ways of expressing and sharing our views and ideas. The Troika interfaces make this explicit by generating mappings of the database that are dependent on the activities of its users.
The Troika interfaces display each object in the Rhizome database as one pixel--the object is accessed by clicking on the pixel. The pixel's color represents the keywords that are associated with the object and the people that have requested it in relation to a specified troika - a conceptual triad such as "body, mind, spirit". The color that represents the object is changed over time as a result of users making traces in the database. The users are marked with the color of the object they first select, and leave a trace of that color on the objects they select afterwards. The interfaces are animated to show the colors changing over time.
The Troika interfaces convey the belief that we as humans are excellent in making selections in huge sets of data if the data is presented to us in a way in which we have an overview. Think about the wanderer going up on a hilltop to determine the direction of her wanderings. She would not want to be presented with a few selected snapshots of different directions. No, she would most likely prefer as much visual input as possible. The German philosopher Emmanuel Kant distinguishes between two aesthetic pleasures: beauty (pleasure derived from the small graspable things we feel we can understand) and sublimity (experiences of fear and fascination, of the "endlessness" of quantities and spaces so large that we feel we cannot grasp them). He claims that in experiencing the sublime, contrary to what one might think, we feel empowered and our organizing abilities are mobilized.
Lisa Jevbratt is a Swedish systems/network artist working primarily with the Internet. Her work has been exhibited and presented nationally and internationally in venues such as The New Museum in New York, SFMOMA, The Walker Art Center, Ars Electronica in Linz, Transmediale in Berlin, and the 2002 Whitney Biennial. Her projects explore information filtering/mapping, organizational structures and other aesthetic, political and cultural implications of the languages and protocols constituting information technologies. She is a member of the Silicon Valley information cartel C5. She has been a faculty member at CADRE at San Jose State University since 1997 but is now joining the University of California Santa Barbara faculty.