Exquisitely designed with a confident, understated visual vocabulary relying on icons and degraded images, 88 Constellations at times can feel like a really well-made independent documentary, but one which swerves from seemingly normative biographical reportage into visual puns, fantastic associations, and quirky digressions. Infused with the paradox, playfulness and occasional paranoia of the philosopher's life, this is a massive work with circles-within-circles logic that would take several hours to exhaust. Like William Poundstone's New Digital Emblems, 88 Constellations is a tour-de-force interactive, multimedia essay about the ludic that extends the activities of its purported subject like "a philosophical fortune cookie."


Author description: 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein (to be played with the Left Hand) is an interactive, non-linear net.art piece that explores the life and philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein through a series of animated vignettes created in Flash. Each of the 88 sections corresponds to one of the 88 constellations in the night sky. Each constellation becomes a navigation device for the viewer to negotiate the associative relationships between these vignettes. As well, viewers can interact with each collaged animation using their left hand to trigger events from the computer keyboard (in homage to Ludwig Wittgenstein's brother Paul (a concert pianist who lost his right arm in WWI but continued his career performing piano works composed for the Left Hand). This work considers questions that Ludwig Wittgenstein pondered in his career as a philosopher: logic, language, the nature of thinking, and the limits of knowledge -- all in relation to our contemporary digital world.

Instructions: Adobe Flash player or plugin required.

Previous publication: Premiered at the 404 Festival of Electronic Art, Trieste, Italy.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.