The Browser as Art Gallery

Based on a post found on the blog MAKE, I decided to try out the Firefox extension Ad-Art, which works in conjunction with another Firefox extension I use, Adblock Plus.

I often help my less technically inclined friends and family set up and maintain their computers. I love to tinker and tweak and add new things to my own computer, but when I set up a computer for someone else, I usually follow the maxim "less is more." I'm happy to have four or five different browsers on my machine, but I understand that most people only want one.

Still, I always wind up installing Firefox with the Adblock Plus extension. Because in addition to blocking advertisements, Adblock Plus solves common computer problems like slow load times on Flash-heavy web pages.

Adblock Plus is very flexible. I usually choose the option to collapse ad space, which means text and images flow into the space where an ad would be shown. The result is usually seamless--the page looks like the ads were never there to begin with. Alternative settings include replacing ads with a blank box or a box that reads "Ad."

Ad-Art replaces ads on web pageThe Ad-Art extension offers users another possibility: replacing ads with a selection of curated art works. Anyone can sign up to curate an Ad-Art exhibit, and artists are welcome to submit their own work for display. The project is free and open source.

To use the Ad-Art extension, I had to disable the option in Adblock Plus to collapse ad space. Then I began to see images from the current Ad-Art exhibit, Hiroshige’s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, curated by Joan Cummins of the Brooklyn Museum. I found it very relaxing to encounter the images sprinkled across the page. I've included a screenshot, above, showing how the extension looks on the web site Gizmodo.

I liked Ad-Art even better on the GameSpot web site, which has one of those annoying full-page interstitial ads that pause for about 30 seconds. But with Ad-Art enabled, Hiroshige's work appeared alone on the page in place of the ad, framed by a dramatic black background, and lingered there restfully before the page I sought appeared.