Beat News: April 4 1999

There’s nothing like a good, well-managed and highly bizarre personal web content site. The following are some of my recent favorite sites, all of them run by individuals who embody Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ideal of the ‘self-reliant’ artist. They create their web works for no reason other than to express the uniqueness of their own personalities. And none of them seem to care much if anybody likes what they do. The creative web is alive …

Let’s start on the purely visual end of the spectrum, with the psychologically psychedelic art musings of Jef Morlan, a master of Macromedia Flash whose works are inspired by the Flemish artists of the Dutch Renaissance. Jef lives somewhere inside, the site he has been building and rebuilding for the last several years.

Not much less weird is Mark Napier’s Where Jef Morlan uses Flash and digital video, Mark Napier’s basic tool is the Java programming language, which he uses mainly to shred and disassemble the components of our familiar media world in as many ways as he can.

Now let’s leave the chilly realms of these two abstract visual artists and move towards the warmer, more internally introspective side of the spectrum. Drop by to see what astute thoughts are currently engaging the cluttered mind of web innovator Mark Thomas, who seems to enjoy arranging odd interactions between people by listing pay telephone numbers, creating an infinite stream of querelous chat boards, and sneaking digital photographs of strangers on the street. His site gets a lot of message board traffic from readers, and he often keeps quiet for long stretches of time and lets them do all the talking, to good effect.

Then, for a final dose of attitude, check out Leslie Harpold’s

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