Page Index
Prints Monotypes The Press How-To
The "thin^air" Story - Historic Roots

The phrase "thin air" comes from "The Tempest" (1610) by William Shakespeare. In Act 4, Scene 1, the main character, Prospero, abruptly ends an impromptu celebration for his daughter's forthcoming wedding, dispersing the spirits and illusory scenery he'd enlisted. As the performance dissipates, Prospero tries to clarify what's happened:

Our revels now are ended.
These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Nature of Art and its Creation

If it is art, we are affected by it.  Feel surprise, challenge, delight, sorrow, any or all, but something.  True art is by its nature subversive.  We can't see it and remain unmoved.  Having seen it and seeing we are different than before, we know we are in the presence of great art.

A few years back someone asked, "where do the ideas for these images come from?"  Speechless for a second, pondering my response to a question impossible to answer.  Honestly, I didn't know, but the questioner seemed genuinely curious, so I couldn't just let it go.  A moment later, "The Tempest" floated through my thoughts.

As human creation art reveals the artist, and is no less an image of "such stuff as dreams are made on".  Art is the artist's dream, stark or hazy, still as intangible as luminous and weightless air.  Yes, it's true.  Art, if it is art, arises from a misty depth, or it isn't art at all.

Language of the Web

"You know, the page title is unusual.  What does it mean?"

It's actually a computer program.  "(thin^air->ART!)" is an application, written in the programming language Scheme.  In Scheme we could have a procedure, like (define (thin^air->ART!) ... do something here ...), and when procedure is called, the instructions placed where the "do something here" line now exists would indeed carry out the instructions.

But the procedure isn't actually defined.  Art isn't reducable to a simple, or even complex computation.  Technologies provide tools we use to create art, and we have impressive tools indeed, but tools aren't the source of artistic creation.  It's an obvious enough point, yet so often forgotten.

Now, the last piece of the story.  The logo, as Scheme code, is homage to the web server that sends these pages to you.  The server started out as a programming exercise, emerging from curiosity about Scheme as well as the intricacies of the WWW.  Within a month it grew into an actual working server, wow, what fun!  From that point on, making it into a complete and efficient program was a goal, an adventure, at times, a nightmare.

As it evolved, there have been innumerable changes, and of course bug fixes.  Described as a multiplexed, multitasking, compiled-Scheme-embedded-in-C web server, it works quite well, not to say it won't be further changed--no doubt it will be. But a reason to be proud--a fully functional web server written in Scheme and C from "the ground up".  The server has been released as open-source code.  It's available here:   Scheme Web Server source code .