Welcome to chia.earth. This website is made by Chia Amisola for 'Naming Ambient Sites & Sights'. I call myself an ambient artist not because of sound, but because of what listening taught me: a practice of interdependency and environmental awareness to everything around me. I dove into ambience not because of quiet, but out of restlessness and necessity: I wanted agency & liberation, which meant I had to be enveloping, ubiquitous, invisible.
Across the sky, sea, and land are different provocations and prompts around the different politics of ambience: not just quiet tenderness, but its obstruction of labor, considerations of visibility/optics, the importance of dwelling and waymaking in what is already there. Hop on the boat to be charted to a series of resources.
The clouds are always above us. In the computing context, the ‘cloud’ has been used as a term to refer to storage and infrastructure on the web—positing it as a placeless, limitless (if you pay enough) unit that holds our data. While seemingly innocuous, language like this begins to obstruct the infrastructure — how do we instead foreground the most magical thing about technology, its people?
When looking up the sky, what if we could feel its materiality? What does it mean for certain elements of technology to become ‘naturalized’, almost seamless with the real world? What we renders invisible directly relates to who we render invisible.
( INFRASTRUCTURE, STORAGE, LABOR, MATERIALITY )
1. Websites often ask for cookies or permission to use your camera or location, but we are already in a constant exchange of information. Make a website that utilizes a mechanic or parameter that is often unseen. For example, modify the ‘Document.title’ of your page or make a site that uses your window size.
2. Engage in an act against the cloud. Download your own data off a social platform, or begin curating media that you enjoy. Or, take the files from your desktop and re-offer them online. (See Molly Soda's Desktop Dumps, or Everest Pipkin's Screenshot gardens.) Place them into a folder, naming and tagging the files to your desire. (How do you intend to order these files? Arrange them into subfolders?) If you’d like, note down how you acquired the media – design your own form of provenance.
3. Craft something physical or digital that helps you ‘feel’ the internet. What if windows acted like window sills, or reflecting the outside world? What if you could feel your tabs rot away as you left them open, as if they were spoiling, instead of seeing them physically preserved? This is a brief internet elegy made out of iFrames and links, that will eventually decay.
4. Put together a website that is less than 10kb in size. How can you craft landscapes or make use of images with these limitations? Taper is a literary magazine of small digital poems that might be of inspiration; and the low tech magazine has a solar-powered version.
We are all constantly ebbing and flowing on the internet—whole histories and worlds are underneath our feet. When we resist the web’s centralization and take the time to scour through vast swathes of information, we find ourselves as true surfers: diving for the web’s hidden gems and treasures.
What is at the bottom of the internet’s ocean, and what can we surface? How do we make tools and spaces for our voice against an internet of overoptimization? The internet is already filled with sanctuaries and places of meaning – we just need to find them. How can we chart the internet to make it easier for us to resurface what matters, and draw lines for those we love to follow us where we are?
( SURFING, CURATION, SCALE, CHARTING )
1. Webrings function as circular trails, often found on amateur personal or ‘indie’ sites, that lead you from one site to the next under certain themes. Chart your own webring-like map out of sites that haven’t been connected before. Pick some unifying theme or concept that interests you, and form some opinion about the order of sites to visit. You can start with a spreadsheet, a checklist, Are.na, or use a ‘Link in Bio’ tool like Carrd. Visually represent your webmap, offer a guide, or tours.
2. Walk through Google Maps StreetView in a place that’s familiar or foreign to you, then dive. Document your trip through screenshots and text, or record your screen as you walk through. Make a map of your journey. What did you encounter, and how can you re-present it?
3. Go to a large platform of your choice and unravel a subculture or strange collection within it - whether it’s Facebook groups where everyone pretends to be an ant, long stories left in the YouTube comments section, or meticulously documented discographies by a fan on YouTube. Resurface this community & collection outside of the platform it’s tethered to: you can help archive and re-present its contents in a more formal way, archive it, document it on a public wiki, or simply write about what you’ve seen.
What would an internet filled with public parks look like? How can we create places of calm, rest, and quiet on the internet? Most websites we visit are transactional and utilitarian, but websites are merely vessels: they can be molded into places that function purely for art, expression, care. There is already so much labor and effort put into maintaining the spaces we reside in; so what if we designed spaces for passive, ambient use?
( PLACEMAKING, CALM, QUIET, SINGLE-PURPOSE )
1. Design a space for the internet. This can be a new website you code, a single-purpose chatbox, a word document, a Figma town, a shared Instagram profile. Choose a physical space to mirror this one after; it doesn’t have to look like it exactly, but you can take one mechanic out of it. Plant the first seeds of content and rules that you would like to have in the space. It could be a cafe, a sky, a parking lot, a fountain, or anything you can imagine!
2. Design a screensaver, or make a website that is intended to be a screensaver. It can be a clock, images filling the screen, or a window outside. You can even switch your browser’s ‘New Tab’ page to this screensaver, treat it as a rest stop. Musical clocks,
3. Make a website on the internet for one person. Keep a specific need or moment for them in mind, and gift it to them. You can share the URL with only them, or share it with the world - but make sure it is directed for that one person. You could even address who it's dedicated to directly, or make a website that's just a letter.
4. Make a website that only ‘functions’ or is ‘accessible’ at a specific point in time. Here's a template for a site that is only open in the daylight.
5. Write your own manifesto or set of rules for being on the internet, or creating the internet. Share it and abide by it. Here's a selection of web manifestos.