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by Sara Diamond

I scribe the first Quintessence column on the eve of a major Canadian discovery. Canadian physicists have found that neutrinos, mysterious, massless building blocks of matter, transform their nature as they leave the heavens and bombard earth. This discovery pulls theoretical physics back toward the boundary of reality, moving human knowledge toward other kinds of matter, and new descriptions of the world.

In the spirit of this shifting worldview, it is our hope that HorizonZero, a bilingual publication, will provide a modest but valuable vehicle for experiencing the quantum leaps of Canadian new media culture and creativity.

An online publication produced by The Banff Centre, HorizonZero presents and popularizes the work of Canadian new media artists, bringing them across the boundaries of particularity into the larger universe of popular culture.

Each monthly instalment will be constructed around the work of one artist or a group of artists, linking it to the emergent concerns of digital media. It will provide a critical interpretation of the artwork, building a lexicon for analyzing new media and cross-pollinating new creative forms with ideas, challenges, practices, and results in science, technology, economics, law, and social science.

Each issue will also cross a horizon line where traditional forms of representation bombard the less-known landscapes of interactivity. It will bring other forms of art into dialogue with digital media, revealing points of continuity and rupture.

In addition to creating interactive art experiences, we will convey streamed events and chat worlds, and develop games, toys, and collaborative tools for databases that users can add to and reconfigure.

As it expands, our shared horizon will become increasingly interactive with you, its viewers.

The search for quintessence, its dynamics and aesthetics, serves as a larger metaphor for the HorizonZero project.

Quintessence describes the detection of "dark matter," the missing mass that is the material shadow of the birth of the universe. To approach the nature of dark matter, physicists use mathematical metaphors of virtuality, assigning non-zero values to potential particles. When these virtual particles bound out of the vacuum, they give birth to our reality. Quintessence thus suggests that symmetry is not the fundamental value of the world we live in, and that zero is its breaking point: a transitory, impossible state. This crossing-over of the null boundary of time and space, from the potential to the actual, is at the root of all manifestations of matter.

This column will approach the larger matter of new media creativity and science, touching on the moments of quintessence created at the meeting point of resistant matter. It will map out a cultural shoreline where forms of knowledge and language break against each other, and where the virtual and the real amalgamate to transform experience.

While I may note continuities, I will also seek those moments when new particles appear on the horizon, shifting forever our understanding of the world and evoking new forms of beauty. Quintessence is cumulative, like the multiplication of digital matter in the commons of the Internet, expanding our universe while creating intensive local expression, adaptation, and resistance.

Horizon One
HorizonZero's inaugural issue explores the atomics of text as it bridges the linear and interactive worlds. In the beginning was the Word, it used to be said. In another beginning was the zero. And the one followed.

Welcome to HorizonZero: Horizon One.

Sara Diamond is Editor-in-Chief of HorizonZero.

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