I've often wondered if one of the reasons some members of the digital literati wrap themselves in earlier, earthier metaphor is to fight the disembodied 'manyness' of the net. Here, the here of not really anywhere, the links and nodes of myriad web sites and individual web pages lead us deeper and deeper into a shared labyrinth, a new kind of sacred space, our handprint the code we leave behind. This is our digital Lascaux.

While some artists and writers feel that the metaphor of "space" needs to be abandoned when referring to the Web, that we need to find new ways to describe the "here" of our "here", I think that in this time of dwindling resources, of exhaustible frontiers, the borderless, ever expanding "form" of the Web as shared space is particularly apt, as we feel the borders of our daily '"real" world squeeze ever tighter. Like an ever-expanding universe, since its inception the Internet has been a place where anyone with access could display material, and the WWW has grown to become a repository of that which humans wish to codify and remember.

    "Caves are ambiguous spaces, offering both protection and shelter but can also trap and imprison." 1

The dot com explosion is quickly making the net a place of commercial ventures, fast cash, and exploding IPO values. In this context, it seemed important to generate a project that spoke to the communal nature of the early net, where so many of us first learned to speak in 'a href=', launching our own zeros and ones towards those coded by an[often anonymous]other. The Lascauxian metaphor has shown up recently in writing by several theorists and critics, perhaps due to the current online shift towards the use of image over text, which seems to mirror an earlier, pre-lingual state, where thought was less linear, more intuitive. Or is this just our current romantic fantasy about the past?

Perhaps it really doesn't matter. The fact remains that our digital handprints cover the walls of this, our common Lascaux, and through the communities we have established here, it is my belief we can work together to keep places like this sacred, investing that word with myriad new connotations for the future.

Your hand, too, can fit that print, perfectly.

Jennifer Ley

1. from Sacred Places by Chris Witcombe at Sweet Briar College

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