The Progressive Dinner Party Restored

The Website

The Progressive Dinner Party’s website itself is fittingly displayed and organized like a dinner party, with a virtual table for “guests” to sit at, a menu of food items representing artists from various regions, and a list of “master chefs” and other honored guests to the dinner party. When entering the site, jazzy dinner music is played to help set the atmosphere. The entry page is even structured like a dinner invitation, offering a brief introduction to the site. Included in this invitation is a link to Carolyn Guertin’s Assemblage and two essays by Katherine Hayles and Talan Memmott.

The invitation directs guests to The Virtual Table, which is a triangular table similar to the one in Judy Chicago’s piece. Each of the 39 place settings are represented as stars, which users can click on to view the “plate” of each artist. Though it was not captured by the Webrecorder due to a number of outdated external links, the user was once able to view each artist’s work from this point (a few of these links still function in the original website as of 2019.) Alternatively, the plates can be accessed through the dinner menu, which categorizes the works by food based on the region the artist came from. These regions can also be selected through an interactive world map on the website. 

Each plate contains a customized picture with the artist’s name on it, which links out externally to their work. A side panel with the artist’s name, the web genre, the title of the piece, and additional details such as places published can be found on the right-hand side of the screen.  Also in the panel are links to the virtual table, the next plate, and endnotes.

An Honored Guests page thanking the contributors can be reached from The Virtual Table as well. The contributors include Conversation Starters, Contributors of Candles, Pioneers in Cuisine, Flowers, Special Guests and Master Chefs. Clicking on a header will take the user to a list of names corresponding to that role. A Guest Book is also provided for visitors to sign and leave notes in, though this appears to no longer function.

By creating parts of the site with frames, an artists list can be scrolled through on the left-hand side most of the time. These are arranged alphabetically by last name, offering the user a quick and simple way to search.

Wrapping up the site are an endnotes page with links to Carolyn Guertin’s and M. D. Coverley’s sites, and a link to the online journal Riding the Meridian that the website was published in.

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