by Michael Mills
It was over ten years ago when my old friend Ravi Shankar made a mysterious proposal based on his recent reservation of the domain name drunkenboat.com. An online journal was soon born, neither of us knowing exactly where it would go, but our mission clear from the outset: To use the web to showcase the arts, not as a substitute for the traditional print journal, but as something else, exactly what we did not know, incorporating the unique interactive nature of the web. How does the reader/viewer relate to artwork that asks not just to be looked at, but asks the viewer to be an active participant? What happens when artwork is not waiting quietly in a gallery for visitors, but makes housecalls via telephone cables?
Theresa Rosas’ “Four Pieces for Computer and User” is a beautiful example of the new, and still evolving, nature of the relationship between artist and audience. These musical compositions use ingredients provided by the artist, but they are measured, stirred, and cooked by each member of the audience in the comfort of his or her own home, cybercafe, or office cubicle.
As we assembled this issue the absurd, idiotic drumbeat of war grew ever louder in the media, pushing artistic expression ever further from mainstream public consciousness. Perhaps it is those times when the ideas of artists most need to be voiced, in every media possible. A decade into its life, Drunken Boat is doing its small part toward that ideal.