Intro to Mystic Firebird

Alchemy + technology = science fiction...or does it? I think not, because it would imply that alchemy lacks the substance of reality. Of course, science fiction can hint at the possibilities of alchemy. William Gibson's notion of cyberspace is based upon discovering the magic inherent in science. Gibson's fictional characters meld with technology, organically jacking into cyberspace and becoming part of a metaphysical mindscape beyond anyone's control. Gibson's vision of cyberspace verges on what I can only describe as an alchemical dreamstate. (Incidentally, I offered my own science fiction take on an alchemically-driven cyberspace in a 1983 short story I wrote called Mermaid in Fishbowl.)

While on the surface the World Wide Web, our real world equivalent of cyberspace, appears infinitely tamer than William Gibson's (or, for that mater, my own) fantasy version, deep down there exist similarities. No central entity controls the web and, more importantly, as a medium it is defining itself as it evolves. Beyond the obvious availability of untold amounts of data, both information and stimuli are being presented in an entirely dynamic fashion. I believe the web is the perfect medium for applying alchemical principles. I can't imagine any artist inspired by alchemy denying its fluid possibilities.

I first became aware of the alchemical heart of modern communications technology when I saw Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey as a teenager. At the time I had no clue what alchemy was. Over the years I became more and more fascinated with the subject. Recently I discovered an invaluable online resource in The Alchemical Web, which vectored me to a fine essay by Jay Weidner that brought the impact of Kubrick's 2001 into focus.

Mystic Firebird represents my first step in openly applying an alchemical methodology of transformation to web art. Although all the web animations on Illumination Gallery harness transformation, here the process exists at a much more self-conscious level. Mystic Firebird consists of three separate animations aligned on a webpage side-by-side, running simultaneously. The center animation lasts approximately 90 seconds, then loops; the amimations on either side of it last just under a minute, then loop. A high-speed Internet connection is absolutely required and I recommend using Firefox as your browser. Even with a high-speed connection, as a unit, the three animations may take up to 45 seconds or so to fully load and trigger (with older, slower computers it may take even longer).

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