THE INTERNET BLACK HOLE
The site was described as “a very private and somewhat mysterious place for Net-artists to hang out and create Web-art (or Net-art, as it was called in the late 1990s), without being directly visible to the grand public.”
A more jaundiced view was that Aronson had simply chanced upon an available domain, and decided to use it for Web art that provoked curiosity, entertained, and “messed with the visitors’ heads.”
There was certainly much speculation over the site’s purpose, which was further fuelled by Aronson’s public statements. In an interview with the New York Times in 1998 he suggested Hell.com was “a vast creative project that exists in a secret online location, a private digital environment assembled over the past year by 50 new media artists who continue to collaborate on its chaotic shape and ever-changing content. “The concept was to create the Web as I’d like it to be, something that’s fascinating, exciting, dangerous, interesting…a parallel Web”
A sub-domain of Hell.com, BAT, stated:
HELL.COM is a private parallel network of acknowledged visionaries with diverse skillsets working from 20 nations. Described as the ‘bleeding edge of the web’ by the BBC, the project has been pushing the boundaries of the internet to discover new levels of human communication.— BAT.hell.com text, HELL
It was surmised that Hell.com’s members, at least partially, were creative designers specialising in creating sites like Hell.com which were abstract, dark, intractable, and mysterious. At least four projects ran on Hell.com: (e.g. “surface” and “HL2”), where members anonymously collaborated in their creation. The end-results were non-informative webpages like Hell.com’s for people’s viewing pleasure (HL2 apparently took 90 minutes to explore). However these creative projects seemed to be only one facet of the larger Hell.com group.