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This chapter is from the book

The Truth About Foundations

So what's your mentality? What's your philosophy? What are you thinking about? What kind of foundation do you have to lay down a body of work?

For a long time, I believed that a foundation was something that came from the past. And in many schools, this is still how art is taught: You are presented with the works and artists of the past to be used as the base or foundation for what will some day be your own innovative work.

Now, I believe that foundation is something that we carry along with us in the moment. Our foundations are not what's been dug up from the past but are all the life experiences we are constantly and inevitably updating and adding on to.

Foundations can be stable, but they can never be static. If you build a building, you can't just construct it and let it be. Unless you perform maintenance updates—replace the roof, repaint the bricks, and so on—the building will eventually crumble due to the work of external forces over time.

The life span of art on the Internet is microscopically short compared to the life of a building. There is a web site that I visit often, one I consider a pioneering work of graphic design. But the creator has not updated his site in two years. When I log on, I already know what I will see, how it will load, and how the interactions will result. I feel sad because it is like looking at a beautiful, dead corpse. The foundation is dead because nothing has changed.

The Praystation web site is updated as often as once a day. Why? Because if I stop maintaining the foundations, the experience will die. Visitors will learn what to expect; nothing will be interesting anymore. Another site, Dreamless, was a community site that was updated constantly by the three or four thousand people who participated in that site. If we can create a world by ourselves, it is up to us to keep that world alive. Praystation, in particular, is time-based. It represents techniques I've laid down over the past year, though this is not so much for your convenience as it is for mine. I can look back and see what was developed over a period of time, revisit topics, and find ways to do things differently. Praystation 2002 is evolving as something quite different, although it takes parts of the previous work and rearranges them for new experiences.

As you go through this book, you may wish to view portions of the Praystation site that bring to life the animations that illustrate projects described (for such is the limitation of the printed page). Like the book, the tutorials on the web site should be considered at best only a small portion of the foundation you are adding onto each day for your own art.

When you begin building a visual experience on the screen, you lay down a foundation of parameters based entirely on your own decisions. The foundation suddenly exists in the moment, and you are free to manipulate, extend, and build upon this. Whenever you create a foundation that is unique to the project, you're also building a foundation for further exploration and the next projects. Ideally, you will also be participating in a collaborative discussion with other designers and developers. This work is never finished; the foundation is continually morphing and extending every time someone says, "Hey, but did you know it could do this?"

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