Installation, Java, MySQL, 2006
A trip through the hyperuniverse of the World Wide Web on full autopilot: The Universal Digest Machine is an installation featuring a web spider that crawls the net, digesting web pages and outputting a brief analysis of their contents. The display unit is an industrial thermal printer. For every page visited by the spider, a receipt is printed, falling on the floor unless taken by a visitor. The receipts become a sprawling heap of intriguing but ultimately incomprehensible artifacts, obviously representing information but no longer in a human-readable form.
Internet space is much like the physical universe - greater than any single person could comprehend or personally navigate. Since the spider is indiscriminate about the links it follows, it ends up in places most human users would never reach. As it does so it reveals a Terra Incognita of obscure web sites, giving equal space to Microsoft white papers, Disney collectibles and scat fetishism. Just as antique maps would be marked with dragons and fantastic monsters where the cartographers' knowledge of the world ended, there may well be terrible and wonderful things lurking on the web just out of reach.
The Universal Digest Machine has won an honorary mention in the net vision category of Prix Ars Electronica.