A master of internet art

November 18, 2004, vol. 31, no. 6
By Christopher Guly

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In the emerging discipline of internet art, Gary Stasiuk is quickly becoming known as a master.

Six months ago, the interactive designer with SFU's learning and instructional development centre (LIDC) established a web site called Liquid Journey, which uses San Francisco-based Macromedia Inc.'s Flash software to create a dynamic and interactive art gallery by manipulating and animating objects.

Since its launch, Liquid Journey has attracted as many as 1.1 million hits per month. It has received several prizes from the global online community, including the prestigious international Favourite Website Awards' (FWA) site of the day, in the experimental category.

The London-based FWA called the “explorations and experiments” in Liquid Journey “awe-inspiring,” and Stasiuk admits to having experienced an “epiphany” of sorts while assembling some of the visually stunning animated images on the site.

“A couple of times, I've caught myself saying, ‘Oh man, that is just so cool and amazing.' It's like I've never seen anyone do that before.”

Indeed, no one ever has, since Flash technology enables a user to code random behaviours for an object.

Stasiuk illustrates this under the heading of Recursion in a section called Source in which geometric patterns emerge but are never replicated.

In the artificial intelligence category, he has objects - many of them looking like aquatic creatures - interacting with one another or responding to a click of a mouse, such as feeding the cyber-minnows in one installment.

In addition, Liquid Journey takes Flash technology to a new dimension by pushing the software's normal use in creating two-dimensional animation to set 3D objects in motion.

While the site relies on Stasiuk's imagination to explore new technological frontiers, it is also a showcase of elements of the real world seen through his eyes.

Many of the objects displayed are photographs of scenes - some of them rather dark and ominous - in India and of canyons in Arizona and Utah shot by Stasiuk, a photography graduate of the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver.

Inspired by other Flash sites on the web, he also allows Liquid Journey's visitors to register and download all the source code from his creations, play with it and send it back with changes.

Fred Kyba, manager of the LIDC's media production group, considers Stasiuk to be a “tremendous asset” to SFU and says the web designer's “dedication to his art” is reflected in all of his work for the university -- from a Flash site Stasiuk developed for the school for the contemporary arts to a forthcoming high-bandwidth virtual tour of SFU using video broadcast through Flash software, previewed at lidc.sfu.ca/virtualtour.

With plans to create his own Flash-based 3D games on the web, Stasiuk credits technology for allowing him to pursue his cyber-art.

“I could not have made Liquid Journey three years ago because computers weren't fast enough,” explains Stasiuk, who also has a personal web site at praxisinteractive

“Who knows what the possibilities will be three years from now?”

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