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As the web as a medium for expression was just beginning to take off, I had proposed a project called the "One Line Project" that would take lines drawn by people and connect all of those lines end-to-end. I was inspired in part by "Hands Across America" and was wondering also if it were possible to realize a line that was as long as the perimeter of the Earth. I wrote a classic server-backended system with a funky JAVA-based client that collected lines from people all oer the world. In 1999 the contents of the line database were reported in an exhibition called "," which was the name of the server. Of course there was no profit involved in this adventure—it was primarily a peaceful branding activity for Dai Nippon Printing. It turns out that after the two years that ran, I had only collected around 4 kilometers of line data (using 72 pixels = 1 inch) whereas my goal was 40,000 kilometers.

The image below is an excerpt of the many line drawings (made from a single line) that I had collected over the network. The image is an extremely large GIF image that some browsers will not render at all (OS X Safari does the job fine if you click on the image):

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I took all of these individual lines and wrote software to connect each line endpoint-to-startpoint. I had to bend and twist some of these lines to get them to fit on a single canvas. The result is below, which is also an extremely large GIF image that some browsers will not render at all (OS X Safari does the job fine if you click on the image):

   10% | 33% | 100% (18,709px by 342px)

At the exhibition, a giant printout of the line was strewn in the upper and lower galleries of the Ginza Graphic Gallery.

Concurrent with the exhibition were a set of silly JAVA applets I had written to run on a series of iMacs. All of them had the mouse as a theme. There were 10 iMacs total: 3 of them accessed the database of lines and the other 7 exhibited frolicking behavior on behalf of the mouse cursor. I have resurrected one of them involving simple symmetry, which you can activate by clicking the following:

One can also browse the entire tapestry if you are of the adventurous sort. The following archive contains a Java applet that requires you to open the index.html in AppletViewer with security *off* (so it can load the local file). If you don't know what that means, I don't suggest you try it as it is somewhat confusing. I was able to get it work in Java 1.3, but then it stopped working when I upgraded to Java 1.4, so you know where I stand. You can scrub over the entire canvas to see each individual line connection point. You can avoid that confusion by just watching the movie: was too difficult to maintain from the standpoint of the rapid changes in Java in the late 1990's. Gotta love Java! ...


Copyright 2005, John Maeda.