Heath Bunting’s activism reveals itself not only in the pieces and projects he generates, but also in the communications networks he sets up. His engagement as an artist pervades all his activities, and it would be confining to demarcate them by type. The materials Bunting uses are the public telephone, the fax machine, e-mail, and the post office (or rather telecommunications companies as a whole). Concretely, his work has led him both to set up a number of independent Internet servers and to organize work and discussion groups. He has also created several interactive projects for the World Wide Web.

But when he uses networks or some other leading-edge technology, it is less to work on their behalf than to turn them to other ends by perverting them in some way. His projects are thus the result not of technical prowess, but of a very simple layout of images, texts, and zones of interactive dialogue which involve the viewer in a critical look at the medium itself or at or society. Most of his considerable oeuvre can be accessed at irrational.org.

What initially seems like a low-tech look comes out of his political commitment to easy and rapid access to the Net and to ideas. The size of the images has been kept to a minimum number of bytes for maximum impact and speed for the visitors to the site. Their low resolution also serves to promote the alternative discourse called for in his work.

In Visitors' Guide to London, initially a HyperCard project and then put on the Net, he offers a way of looking at London quite different from the usual tourist clichés. Bunting employs low-resolution black-and-white images with no gray-scales, along with a very simple navigational system. The visitor moves around the city by clicking on icons for north, northeast, east, etc., on a map of the Underground. From the map he or she can access any stations, but only to find banal photographs which Bunting has taken there at the surface. He thus accomplishes what he himself calls "the already out-of-date psycho-geographical tour of London, ideal for foreign visitors, with over 250 sites of anti-historical value, incomplete, without instructions, now available for all (the rich) on the World Wide Web."

Simon Lamunière

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