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Websiteseeing: Shinji Toya - Ways of Going 404

Ways of Going 404

Curated by Shinji Toya

“Page not found”, “The site can’t be reached”. An “error 404” ordinarily signals a failure of accessing a certain data or location. Although, rather than considering a 404 as a dead end, this tour reconsiders it in terms of rhetoric, transience, and senses of location. For the occasion of The Wrong Biennale, the artist Shinji Toya presents a “wrong” location of Websiteseeing.

In the culture of web browsing today, numerous semantic interpretations of error 404s have been made by designers. These 404s are based on the expressions such as: “getting lost”, “a broken link”, “the page does not exist”, etc… Yet, the figurative narratives are often rhetorical. And to deliver the narrative it has to rely on the presence of the redirecting system to the customised 404 page and its URL; systematically it is not much of an error or absence of the destination.

In contrast, some other, relatively more genuine 404s signify the absence of the corresponding web addresses and the redirecting system or even the server. These 404s are nowhere lands of the Internet.

The first half of the tour will go through different narrative examples of the designed 404 pages, and the other half – the delinked URLs the artist encountered.

Ultimately, all the tour pages may go out of link one day, and become the genuine 404 locations. Then, this websiteseeing will have become a tour of forgotten lands of the Internet.

Shinji Toya (1984) is a digital artist from Japan, based in London UK for over 10 years. His practice is process-driven and uses computer programming, the Internet, participation, video and image manipulation. It deals with the poetic aspects emerging in the tension between what the systems (of knowledge and computation) aim to capture and what they fail to capture. This kind of epistemological gap often appears as the presentation of paradox, nuanced incoherence or complexity. Echoing his transnational background, these approaches of the work suggest the limits of framing (e.g. of understanding, computability or language).

Websiteseeing is an automatic online virtual tour, taking viewers through the best sites the world wide web has to offer. 

Curated by artists, independent curators and people within the digital realm, Websiteseeing  displays a series of connected websites determined by a specific research interest, topic, or methodology. Shown as a continuously loading sequence chosen by the curator, the websites appear for a predetermined amount of time; if a website piques curiosity, the viewer has a few seconds to explore the page before the next one is loaded on their browser. Within this constraint, the websites presented act more akin to a ‘non-place’ than as spaces for the dissemination of information.

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