Screenshot from Amandine Ansart’s Odeladelo.
In 1994, early internet archivist and researcher Denis Howe created EUROPa (Expanding Unidirectional Ring Of Pages), the first example of what internet pioneers would come to know as a webring, an enclosed community of websites organized in a circular structure around a certain theme.
While webrings peaked around 1998 with the niche-popularity of WebRing.com, the idea would exist today as little more than an artifact of what a few .net art historians might call Web 1.0… if not for the nostalgic efforts of a burgeoning group of French net artists.
From the Magic Ring central website, “The magic ring is a collection of artists’ websites linked together in a circular structure which is totally decentered and transparent […] we have decided to breathe new life into this format and rethink its interface in a radically different way.”
And radically different it is: boasting interactive projects from premiere GIF artist Francoise Gamma to educator, net, and installation artist Etienne Cliquet, the Magic Ring is a wistful homage to early internet archiving… that just so happens to feature really dope, exclusive net art in a digi-ontological sphere (pun totally intended).
GIF from Francoise Gamma’s Rhetoric on Sublime Ring.
So while your cursor circumnavigates the imaginary magic circle that allows you access to each page, take a brief moment to reminisce upon all the ones and zeroes that have fallen by the wayside. We’ll miss you, WebRings, GeoCities, and Internet Explorer… Now onto something new!
Feel free to post your eulogies in the comments below!