Into the Mystic
Only on the Web
Columns & Features
Turn Me On I'm a Radio
Train Kept a-Rolling
A yellowed Zippy the Pinhead cartoon still clings to our refrigerator door, lost among the curling postcards, magnetic poetry pieces, and ragged flotsam of momentary delight. After chanting "Hypertext web page" three or four times, Zippy exclaims, "Are we interactive yet?" Like Zippy, I waited for the electronic kiss of the Internet to wake me from the dull daydreams of my PC puttering. Nothing happened for a long time. My first interactive computer experience - an office Wang system - had given me the great thrill of sending my document to a centralized printer shared by the whole office. Milling around the printer soon replaced milling around the coffeemaker (or "water cooler" to the Dagwood generation). Time moves slowly on. I get a Mac and and e-mail. I get messages from people searching for other people with the same surname, and my boss in the next room. I install Netscape and am confronted with my first home page. We are finally interactive - but we are not pleased.
When four friends got together to create an electronic magazine we had almost no idea where our contributors would come from. We didn't know who our audience was. We only knew we had almost free access to a world of potential collaborators. We included among us several writers and a couple of computer geeks. When we launched the first episode of Enterzone, it was like sending a faint beacon into the darkness, and then we waited.
One day a manila envelope arrived at Enterzone's mailbox. It was a submission from David Alexander. That was the last time we got a submission via the post office, but if it had arrived by carrier pigeon we couldn't have been more excited. Alexander's peculiar blending of surreal plot, zen-like dialogue, and humorous violence has found an enthusiastic readership at Enterzone and across the web. There is nothing more interactive than good storytelling.
Martha Conway is mastering her craft in original ways. Whether a straight ahead narrative novel or a hypertext story, Martha's work reflects her attention to the bewildering minutia of human interaction - and our frequent failures of communication. Her adventure in non-sequential storytelling, Girl Birth Water Death, slyly moves the reader through a kaleidoscope of time and emotions, never diminishing the thrill of revelation as we pause at each crossroad to choose another path through the story.
When Ian Campbell's mesmerizing collages materialize on my computer screen I feel that I have entered one of Joseph Cornell's magical boxes and am able to see in his seamless art the deep degrees of color and form of the objects Campbell has captured and transmuted. Campbell's collages challenge the idea that web art, limited by the nature of the electronic medium, must be sterile. His images only truly exist in the fluid of electricity, an ur-code of pigment and texture, and yet they are profoundly organic.
A completely different sort of found object inhabits Steve Seebol's very visual Very Short Stories. Evocative of clip art and the elaborately framed advertisements of Victorian era catalogs, Seebol's one-frame cartoons turn the ordinary upside down and inside out, or simply ponder an overlooked mystery in the corners of life. An accomplished photographer, with the ability to capture previously unseen detail in a casual scene, Seebol's art evolved as he played with the computer tools that allowed him to manipulate his photos and images - releasing his muse to full humorous expression.
Levi Asher is his own best known character, and frequently inhabits his own literary work. He is a delight in person, constantly challenging and constantly accepting. And he has created an amazing body of work on the web. We've been pleased to provide a niche for him at Enterzone where you will find some of his most personal and poignant stories.
Our arbiter of angst, the inimitable Tabitha Rasa, has from Enterzone's beginning been a true and trusty friend. More willing today than she was then to reveal her real name (Barclay Dunn), she always gets tough when the deadlines are rough; not afraid to delve into those places we would rather forget about, Tabitha provides a welcome companion for those "mea culpa" moments. She generously lets us enjoy the fruits of her labors in this Herculean task we call modern life, with wit and honesty.
It seems like just a little while ago, but it was back in the dark ages of Enterzone that Mitch Goldman started reviewing every band on the planet. Lately his output has fallen off, as he sees more and more Phish shows at the expense of his old four metal bands a week habit, but you should check his section of Enterzone regularly, as we post his new reviews (and catch up on the backlog!). We're almost finished with a new central page for Mitch's reviews, called Mitchzine.
Even had he not brought down the ire of Mattel on himself for his brilliant Distorted Barbie inquiry, Mark Napier would one way or another in the long run be recognized as the web-art pioneer he is. One need only spend a little time browsing around his original gallery or his new experimental space to see for yourself. Because he has the wherewithal to publish himself, his appearances in this e-zine constitute a gracious cross-pollination of our overlapping zones.
I've been trying to learn how to grow things in our rented backyard these past three years, and I have come to see that the real magic of gardening is DIRT. It turns out you have to make your own--from old banana peels and orange rinds, and the grounds from every cup of coffee you ever brewed, and rotting leaves, and sow bugs, and worms and bizarre little guys called detritivores. And one morning, after this pile of vegetable castoffs and grungy creatures has sat composting itself for a few weeks or months, a pip of leaf pops out of it, no bigger than my little fingernail, and zooms up and fluffs out and suddenly bulges into a 6-foot high tomato plant. And after years of poking store-bought seeds in the ground and getting nothing, I got fat fine tasty tomatoes this year straight from the compost. I would like to think that Enterzone has gathered and shredded and recycled and steeped our ideas and enthusiasms into something like compost for growing artists.--bnisbet