Setting No. 2: NIGHTlinkRail

Essays and themes in this section focus upon the self-initiated NIGHTlinkRail.com project, as a metaphor for a virtual model for modern railway travel as well as the Day For Night catalogue and its artists.

Obsession.

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Three years later, I was on a rampage, trying to explain my website to the programmers I would interview, about helping me complete an algorithmic system for generating, on-the-fly, a NIGHTlink station (or “project”, like when you go into a derelict part of urban life where a tenement is referred to as “the Projects” because it no longer really is at the top of anyone’s list). Here’s what I came up with.

DAYforNIGHT.com is a real network of virtual subway stations located in a fictitious city-like domain on the internet.

Each station has its own timetable and an artistic or musical project associated with it. These are numbered from Day 001 to Day 100.

Each station takes its name and identity after a number in the Day for Night catalogue: past, present or future. The size of the catalog is finite: 100 stations, or projects.

We hope you enjoy this graphical internet experience.

ARTIST = LINE
PROJECT=STATION
COLLABORATION=JUNCTION

EXCERPT…(?) …getting type like the dfn.com sign…implication here is that type is but an illusion…that it is not a reflection of shadow onto a printed sign, but rather that we see an image with shadow, with translucent type floating over it…QED, type is therefore an illlusion.

Is the site efficient? ie, is taking the tube somehow “faster” or “better” than taking the regular internet with textual hyperlinks?
Obviously it is less efficient in a strictly literal sense, especially when one may easily take the abstract
nature of the web for granted.

Is the train travel concept backwards?
Or is it the necessary analogue for this worK?
What I have done, in fact, is created a fictionalized concept called “dayfornight.com” in which I have illustrated on the Net, the concept of junctions as disciplinary collaborations… (see explanations under “Nightlink INFO”

 

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Take an internet journey-by-rail.

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09-1996-1118-eric-scott-tambu-1Back when I worked for a studio, not many people understood me, and it was often hard taking credit – or getting credit – for my ideas, because what I was best at rarely materialized in the finished work. So I haven’t included much of that work in my portfolio – it just doesn’t seem relevant to show it when it feels like so little of that was made of the same design as the current stuff.

Getting into answers? Some people assert that there aren’t really any answers, maybe that’s it. Only some really good questions. And the value they provide, is that they make us think, or they give us an opportunity to find new things of importance to think about.

09-1996-11-battersea-by-train2Take social issues. These get a beating on daytime television, there aren’t any more to think about, because hosts turn them into a media circus. “Entertainment is assault by the media, 24 hours a day.” So instead, we retreat into our own heads and think about the things we’re going to buy, the people we’re going to see, or what our share of this might be to do so that, by the end of the day, it finds new relevance.

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From darkness.

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09-1996-11-battersea-park-station-approach2…I entered NIGHTlinkRail’s gateway and descended into the extranet that Tuesday, via Station 019. I had a handful of quarters and a haversack, filled with my camera, my steno pad, my walkman (listening to Paris: A Musical Overpass all the way here. What a blast to imagine actually being able to go there from here…or wherever here is. I decided I would take one of those mystery trips advertised on one of the walls in the station. Saw a poster reading “Take An Internet Journey-By-Rail.” Next to that was a large ticket paypoint with a ten-by-ten selector counting all the way up from 001 to 100. I was intrigued by the fact that only about one-half of them were lit up or even appeared to be working. At first glance, it looked like a mostly dormant network.

09-1996-11-battersea-park-station5Chose my lucky number twenty-four. 24? 24. There it was all lit up and waiting: 024. I clicked the button, and waited for the paypoint to issue me a ticket or something. “Validating your connection, please wait”… The next thing I knew, I found myself hurtling along a dark tunnel as one of the NIGHTlink connections carried me and my haversack to my mystery destination.

Chose my lucky number twenty-four. 24? 24. There it was all lit up and waiting: 024. I clicked the button, and waited for the paypoint to issue me a ticket or something. “Validating your connection, please wait…” The next thing I knew, I found myself hurtling along a dark tunnel as one of the NIGHTlink connections carried me and my haversack to my mystery destination.

09-nightlinkrail-day-for-night-posterIn the dim interior light of the car, I could hear the repetitive cachick-cachack of the trestle rods and the faint hum of a busker strumming his guitar and scratching decks to underground beats and to the bemused stares of other telecommuters. But when I turned my head, I was all alone here. Where was this seemingly deserted subway car taking me? I could see the ambient and repetitive blur of ads flying past on the wall, inches beyond the glass of the door. I could barely make out the words except by the repetitions. Flybills for different artists… “Peter Moraites”…“Rhythm Factory”… “Found”… “Salvador Dalek” (chuckle)… “Day For Night” …“Eric Scott”…odd that it was Tuesday and that it was also raining.

When the doors opened a mere few seconds later, I found myself staring down a dark tube with a Travel Planner in my hand.

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Never underestimate trains.

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09-1996-11-battersea-park-station-approach1We understand them: they’re regular, on time (mostly) and we like to ride them.

It’s important that we learn to connect every new idea with at least one we already understand. That’s all.

 

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Joyriding.

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09-1996-11-battersea-by-train5…2 years earlier, I didn’t know much yet about the web. To better understand it, I wrote, conceived and designed this thing, and titled it an “Internet Journey-by-Rail.”

I needed some inner clarification, while developing the abstract for the connected relationship between separate Days of the catalogue (for which I am presenting 100 total) and the spatial relationship between stations in a network. A similar abstract could have explained connections between railway stations in a transit network and broadcast stations in a radio/television/web network.

I visualised the NIGHTlinkRail network as a series of algorithms, based upon typical com-muter behavior on an urban transit system.

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Analogous to the existence of different “platforms” in a subway stations to allow travelers at junctions to commute and switch between different transit lines, the NIGHTlink architecture also suggests a similar algorithm where the key variables are 10 Artists (x) and 100 Stations (y). There is a specific and finite number of possible connections using the x-y variables.

This fictionalized account intentionally suggests a new (old) model in intuitive graphic communication and information architecture (with sparing use of the term “telecommuting”).

Please enjoy the ride.

 

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NIGHTlinkRail (dot.com).

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09-1996-11-battersea-by-train1The NightLinkRail model is really about the generation and spreading of ideas via the web. It’s a numbers game. The bigger it gets, the more plausible it looks; and the more people who see it, the more people will hopefully talk about it… “Hey, I’ve just seen the craziest thing…It’s just too deep to be fiction. Ya know?” The rigorousness and absurdity of its taxonomy has also brought in more than one trainspotter as a fan and visitor. It is a visual catalogue of musical and interactive experiences, capped definitively with a defined upper limit of 100 stations.

The fate of NIGHTlinkRail lies in its attention to literalism and form over function, favoring an abstract browser design of walls, streets, platforms and surfaces.

09-nightlinkrail-eric-scott-music-can-fry-your-brain-posterArtist homepages depict large multi-panel tunnel ads of the type which line subway platforms. “Music Can Fry Your Brain!” warns the message from one homepage quay, with a series of abstract Surgeon’s General Warnings (sic) in the bottom right corner: “Dope can cause birth defects, lice, mini-malism, slurred speech and tooth decay…” Eric suggests that NIGHTlinkRail should not be taken too seriously. It is, after all, a system modeled upon many of the experiences of inner city transit, from its minute intricacies, down to its foibles and inadequacies… (Who ever heard of a website that shuts down between 1:30 and 5:00 AM, boasts of its unpleasant odor or even…its rats?)

09-1996-11-battersea-by-train3While isolated from both the corporate and the corporeal, NIGHTlinkRail’s scenario intentionally parodies all underground subway networks… In this case, the “artists” have taken responsibility away from the urban planners, and NIGHTlinkRail be- comes a journey into the bowels of a virtual metropolis – one inhabited instead by musicians, designers and auteurs – who are notoriously under-prepared when it comes to matters of technical accuracy, for are they not, in fact, just like artists?

Elsewhere, server downtime or inability to serve a particular DHTML “destination” is justified by a workers’ strike, inept or late service at a junction, or hapless railway disaster. To jumble things further, the site deliberately imitates life, with its empty promises for timely repairs at imaginary signal boxes and junctions, while complaints directed to the Stationmaster are ultimately met with the same shrugs and delays as the real-world version.

09-1996-11-battersea-by-train4As a sitework, NIGHTlinkRAIL is continu-ally in progress and invites feedback and participation from its visitors…And for some travelers, it is even a final destination.

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NIGHTlinkRail (too).

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09-day-019-nightlinkrail-roundelThe real beef is this – because I keep on asking myself, “How might we view Situationism as most truly relevant today, when we are becoming further immune to Guy Debord’s definition of a society deceived by spectacle? His later admonitions had more to do with a full, but depressed appreciation for how society appears to want spectacle. This is of course, somewhat preposterous and true, and some-what plausible but untrue. When a post-spectacle society consumes Internet Theatre playing to a capacity crowd, then sociologists also begin to use terms like post-literate and the idea of reality television has accelerated a viewpoint of social decay?

Then there’s NIGHTlinkRail… ah, yes… now that’s been fun to nail down.

NIGHTlinkRail.com
Sub-urban Planning

NIGHTlinkRail.com
At least we get you there.

09-1999-10_nightlinkrail-stationmaster-eric-scottFor the online tours of the NIGHTlinkRail Network, I came up with
“Take An Internet Journey-By-Rail.
A pleasant wait is guaranteed for all.”

Then, in relation to NIGHTlink, I became “Stationmaster” as opposed to something more banal title. The need for détournement is addressed in Punk sloganism, and the jolts created by Situationism as a form of post-Surrealism, post DaDa.

Where can I go to support this interest with Situationist films, a documentary?
I would like to experience Situationism and feel it, not just as a purely abstract, or theoretical concept.

09-eric-scott-day-for-night-nightlink-its-simply-that-sussedIf Situationism was big in 1968, was there any relevance to the idea that The Spectacle would not have included the medium as part of its message? Especially once it became clear that Situationism was rejecting that medium…?

Antipathy between a medium, as a whole, and the ideology?

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NIGHTlinkRail : Are you commuter literate?

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09-nightlinkrail-lines-tube-mapNIGHTlinkRail, an experimental sitework launched in 1997 by DayForNight.com, is a network composed of 100 individual train stations. It parallels the online catalogue of the Day For Night musical imprint, in the form of a series of Railway Stations along what I’ve been referring to as “An Internet Journey-By-Rail.”

After descending via escalator into the gateway station, one will begin to recognize the predictable options from modern railway travel. While browsing the Travel Planner Station map on the wall, a visitor may also preview an entire CD release through streaming RealMedia, while sampling the graphic art on-screen from many of the Day For Night releases…According to its own urban legend, domain planners began operations, building and excavating from the 11th November 1996 onwards, and finally opening its gates to commuters in January 1998. NIGHTlinkRail is a fictitious amalgam of the Metro, the New York City subway and the London Tube all at once.

Eric Scott declares NIGHTlinkRail’s primary objective to be an “exploration of possible new models for visual navig-ational systems,” via a detailed recreation of a much older and completely different model for a navigation system used every day by commuters, worldwide.

Each Station mirrors a project completed by one or more Day For Night artists – a managed residence along an Artist Line or maybe a musical release, work of fiction, an internet project or other exploratory sitework. Certain stations even behave as junctions between multiple artists, where collaboration represents a meeting of artistic minds.

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Eric Scott declares NIGHTlinkRAIL’s primary objective to be an “exploration of possible new models for visual navigational systems,” via a detailed recreation of a much older and completely different model for a navigation system used every day by commuters, worldwide.

Each Station mirrors a project completed by one or more Day For Night artists – a managed residence along an artist Line or maybe a musical release, work of fiction, an internet project or other exploratory sitework.

09-rhythm-factory-got-bassCertain stations even behave as “junctions” between multiple artists, where collaboration represents a meeting of artistic minds.

 

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The train ride.

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16:20 Descent from street, onto platform
16:20 Move past the accordionist.
16:26 The train departs.
16:31 Platform ambience
16:35 Next train arrives, departs.
16:44 Listen to amusing female voice intoning “Mind the gap”
16:45 Board train
16:53 Listen to tube chatter
17:10 Get off train
17:14 Embankment arrival

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