Related themes

Maps, Borders, and Networks

Artists use maps to tell stories about themselves and their views of the world.

Mapping the Internet

Barrett Lyon, The Opte Project
(American, born 1978)

2003. Digital print from photo file.

The Opte Project is Barrett Lyon’s free, open-source initiative to create a visual representation of the metaphysical spaces of the internet. In this image from the project, each line plots the communication between two internet protocol (IP) addresses. The length of the lines denotes the delay between the two nodes. Lyon explains that the image “was based on a technology called ‘traceroute,’ which actually goes over every sequence of the internet and creates a visual trace. It would be like driving each road in the world systematically and then drawing that out.”

The color-coding of the lines indicates the location of the IP space. For example, red lines correspond to Asia and the Pacific Islands, while dark blue indicates North America. The result is an otherworldly image of the internet, a worldwide network that is now integral to our everyday lives. Lyon’s visualizations can also detect the affects of natural disaster and war, as indicated by large-scale internet service outages.

A representation of a person or thing in a work of art.

A work of art made with a pencil, pen, crayon, charcoal, or other implements, often consisting of lines and marks (noun); the act of producing a picture with pencil, pen, crayon, charcoal, or other implements (verb, gerund).

In computer software, open source refers to source code that is freely available and may be modified. Open-source software is often developed publicly and collaboratively.

Transcending physical matter or the laws of nature. Metaphysics refers to the branch of philosophy that studies that fundamental nature of being and knowing.

The visual portrayal of someone or something.

A long mark or stroke.

The perceived hue of an object, produced by the manner in which it reflects or emits light into the eye. Also, a substance, such as a dye, pigment, or paint, that imparts a hue.

Guide to the Colors:
Green—Europe, Middle East, Central Asia, Africa
Blue—North America
Yellow—Latin America and the Caribbean
Cyan—RFC 1918 (private networks)