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Bouncing Bears: Brilliant But Baffling

Before reading this story, take a look at one of the cleverest and most amusing pages we've ever seen on the internet, the Pyramid of Bears. If your cursor touches one or more of the animals, it falls down, the pyramid collapses... and magically reforms.

The game intrigued us so much that we decided to look at the home page, called, to find the name of its brilliant designer. He's a Dutch artist calling himself Jogchem Niemandsverdriet. (We're not sure if that's his real name: an online dictionary says Niemands is Dutch for nobody's, and verdriet means affliction, annoyance, disappointment or grief.)

Searching Jogchem's linked web pages left us bewitched, bothered and bewildered. Online since 1998, the site has been supported by the Netherlands Foundation for Fine Arts, Design and Architecture since 2000. Jogchem says he created this site because he likes to express himself through animation, text and programming

"This labyrinthine web experiment is an enticing exercise in fascination and frustration, as his seemingly endless chains of links seduce you into a frenzy of continuous discovery," says Rachel Nagy, in an enthusiastic review posted on the website of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. She continues:

'I'd like to apologise for all this.', he states, as his inner world, filled with contemplative musings, perceptive observations, and fretful ravings, flows and twists across the screens in all its warped magnificence.

Navigate the pages by clicking on the letter 'I', which leads to a central page where a silhouetted representation of the artist taps away at a computer keyboard, or click on the spirals for a random choice. If you would like to become a part of this work, log in, choose a representative bug avatar, and leave a comment.

Each exploration of a link evokes a new treasure - from a tormented mollusc that voices its desire to break free from its insecurities when thrown against walls, to creeping vines that chase the prostrate silhouette of the artist around the screen.

Unable to find Jogchem's email address, we tried to send him a message on one of his interactive pages. Back came this reply:
Altijd voel me schuldig. Het maakt niet uit wat ik doe of nalaat. Ik ben schuldig, zoals anderen van nature vrolijk zijn. En dan zijn er nog mensen die van nature lomp zijn. Ongevoelig, harteloos en laf. Misschien hebben ze u wel gekwetst. Namens hen kan ik mijn excuses aanbieden. Dan is iedereen beter af.
Our son Don, a computer consultant in Amsterdam, speaks fluent Dutch with an Australian accent. He kindly translated it for us, but we're still perplexed. In English, Jogchem had written....
I always feel guilty. It makes no difference what I do or don't do. I am guilty, as others are by nature happy. And there are also people who are by nature boorish. Insensitive, heartless and cowardly. Maybe they have hurt you. I offer my excuses on their behalf. Then everyone is better off.


Jogchem Niemandsverdriet won [the 2003] webby for best personal website and is the maker of the Doors of Perception video-collages. He studied audiovisual design at the Willem de Kooning Academy (Rotterdam), multimedia design at the Sandberg Institute (Amsterdam) and worked for four years as a programmer/designer/animator of CD-ROMs and web sites.
-  Doors of Perception

The Webby Award. presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, is the leading international honor for achievement in technology, creativity and individual achievement. The Los Angeles Times called the Webbies "the only awards show for internet sites that matters."




Story first posted October 2004

Copyright 2004

Eric Shackle

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