Link to the project: http://oral.pub/POND/

Curatorial Statement
by Miriam Karraker with Theo Ellin Ballew

Think pond: standing water, its murk, the likely threat of mosquito breeding. Ponds are perhaps the lowliest waterbody, second only to puddles. They lack the majesty of a lake, river, or ocean. Yet, there is a certain appeal in the pond's particular isolation. They sometimes arise out of naturally occurring depressions on the land, sometimes because humans make them. Within the humble form of the pond, there is considerable variation, depending on water nutrient levels, the amount of sunlight or shade, the presence or absence of streams, shore animal activity, and seasonal flooding or lack thereof.

I wanted to explore what would happen if people were asked to make work within a somewhat closed system, how they would play with, bump into, and rail against limits. Theo Ellin Ballew, who did web conception and construction for this project, and I chose the pond as a metaphorical embodiment of such limits. Theo designed a flexible web format we called POND, which would "contain" and "bind" contributions as physical galleries or printed publications do. The POND parameters are not more stringent than those of more traditional binding/containing practices — but their newness made them more deeply felt. We sent all artists this POND example, along with the following parameters:

You're making a pond and you're putting things in it.

Container/Pond parameters:
  • Must be rectangular, white on black background
  • No edge of the pond exceeds the computer screen (we'll worry about different screen sizes for you)
  • Side lengths must have measurements that change in relation to the screen size
Objects/Flotsam (what goes in your pond) parameters:
  • 5-10 items (video, image, or text) total, all of which can be moved by user, and are lost when moved outside the pond
  • No more than 150 words of text total
  • No video can last longer than 5 min
Consider each pond a sketch, a piece of a broader practice placed under additional pressure. Consider these signs of threatened and threatening life.