Mr. Meme

Matt Haber, Wired Magazine, December, 1995

"I'm fascinated by the possibility of floating a code in the media," says Ebon Fisher, one of the first guerrilla artists and instructors at the MIT Media Lab. Fisher's Bionic Codes project is an evolving system of images linked with aphorisms, which he disseminates via T-shirts, stickers, fax broadcasts, digital movies, live shows, and the Web.

"I'm incubating structures in billions of neurons, various databases, and a slew of nightclubs and T-shirts. It's a weird undertaking. It's neither art nor science but a form of breeding."

Wired Magazine, Rants & Raves, March 1996

Breathtaking Biology - Got your codes flashing inside my eyelids ("Mr. Meme," Wired 3.12, page 44). Won't let me sleep... Now if I can only figure out some scripty way to project them onto the walls of my house.

-Jim Clarage

Ebon Fisher Explores Subversive Play
Mike Tanner, Wired News, May, 1997

"I consider myself a mind artist," says Ebon Fisher, one of the original teachers at the MIT Media Lab and a cultivator of the now pervasive "meme" meme. "I take a concept and grow it interactively."

Fisher is referring to his biomorphic diagrams, which represent "human-machine interactions" as interlocking groups of nerve-shaped forms, accompanied by slogans about linking with others (such as "link via infant node"). These works, titled The Bionic Codes, have existed in media as varied as stickers, T-shirts, zines, nightclub projections, and now inhabit a Java-driven interactive game on the Sandbox webzine which launched on Tuesday.

This migration between media is emblematic both of the mutability inherent in Fisher's art, and of the kind of work that Sandbox has been covering as a paper zine and performance collective for the last three years. The group has worked - mostly with artists associated with the Williamsburg performance/installation party scene of the early '90s - to examine the medium-specific nature of art and "explore the manifold aspects of subversive and creative play."

"Play," says Sandbox editor Sylvie Myerson, implies not only the child-like pursuit of fun but also the urge to "play with something to see how it works." The work isn't overtly political, she adds, but "the idea of adults creating something that's not for anything commercial is in itself subversive."

The new site features conceptual, interactive audio, and visual pieces by Sandbox artists, as well as reviews and archives of articles from the paper zine. Some work, like Fisher's diagrams are obviously adaptable to the Web, while some - like Sally Resnik's participatory ceramics-and-paper "rituals" - are not. By hosting events for each issue of the paper magazine, however, Sandbox has given its contributors "the opportunity to work directly with the audience," and this interaction is something Myerson hopes will transfer to the Web. For Resnik's piece, she says, they've "managed to adapt it and create the experience of an online ritual for people." Images of Resnik's sculptures and performances are added to sound files from the events, and viewers are able to send in answers to questions that will become part of the piece.

Though run as part of a nonprofit organization by a staff with other day-jobs - including freelance editorial worker Myerson and copublisher and design chief Vid Jain - the Sandbox site is scheduled for monthly updates of the reviews and other text pieces, while the heavy-production features will be revamped twice a year.