Snow Days: photos by Ian Graham
Snow Days Volume 5 Issue 9 cover by Ian Graham
Publisher / R. Anthony Harris Branding / Christian Detres Advertising / John Reinhold Managing Editor / S. Preston
Shannon Cleary, S. Preston Duncan, R. Anthony Harris, Landis Wine, Andrew Necci, Elliot Robinson
ILLUSTRATIONS Anthony Harris
Ombudsman / Adam Sledd
New Media / Ian M. Graham
PJ Sykes, Kim Frost
Music Editor / Landis Wine Copy Editor / Matt Ference RVA TV / John Martin, Ben Muri, Baylen Forcier Trusty Interns Anna Whittel, Alex Barrett
DESIGN Anthony Harris, Grant Shuler
“I am drawn to plate photography for many reasons but one of the initial aspects was the physical presence of the image which I feel has been lost for the most part in modern image making.”
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“My family has a long history of mental illness,which I have inherited and I find the creation of art to DOWNLOAD RVA can be downloaded for free every month at be a very therapeutic obsession.” rvamag.com RVA on facebook/RVAMagazine, IN THE BLACK AND WHITE twitter/@rvamag, myspace.com/rva “Each experience exhibits a sense SUBSCRIPTION of mood, emotion and technique Log your ass on to rvamag.com that are quintessentially Syk-ian HEADS UP! in their nature..” The advertising and artciles appearing within this publication reflect the opinion and attitudes of their respecWHAT YOU WERE IS tive authors and not necessarily those of the publisher WHAT YOU ARE. or editors. Reproduction in whole or part without prior “Recycle 75 years of music over written permission from the publisher is strictly prohiband over and you end up with a ited. RVA Magazine is published monthly. Images are comfortable, whipped frenzy with subject to being altered from their original format. All nothing new to say.” material within this magazine is protected. RVA is a registered trademark of Inkwell Design L.L.C.
by R. Anthony Harris
Being a soldier with a camera has allowed Phil a perspective that can handle violence. His imagery is quiet and unsettling like the calm before a battle. From “My Baghad” to his newest “Flight Patterns”, he brings a deep stillness and sense of pause. What drew you into photography and how long have you been doing it? Exposure to basic b/w photography during a middle school art class in Tennessee back in the 1980’s started it all. Even so it was not until after I had been in the Army for four or five years that my first serious efforts in the medium began, which started with recording my time in Sarajevo Bosnia in 1996. Initially I was drawn to photography by the magical action of light and chemicals capturing time. It’s very cliché but I think that is what grabbed most people prior to the digital age. Later, I was using it as a means to explore myself, my experiences, and tell stories, and that is what has kept me going with it and expanding. The selective reality of photography and the ability to create modified histories has also become a real interest. Your time in Iraq and the work created from that has gained national attention. What is the response been to your My Baghdad series from artists and collectors? What has the response been from fellow soldiers? My Baghdad took a while to become what it would finally be.
I came out of Iraq with a lot of digital information but not a clear objective of what I wanted to do with it. My idea was to just live the experience, then work out what to do with it later. I did know that I wanted to do something more than what was happening with most Iraq imagery-- which was to be fodder in the flow of disposable “news”. This desire led to mixing processes and making distinct connections through both photography history and conflict history to produce the final image objects. The response to the show at Irvine Contemporary was pretty crazy. You mentioned the press coverage or and related to the work, but it was the attendance of the show which was most important and amazing for me. The space was packed shoulder to shoulder, and in the end it was hard to clear people out to close the gallery that night. My objective of having eyes look at the work was fully achieved. As for collectors, I feel that the response was good for the type of images I was presenting. My Baghdad occupies a somewhat uncomfortable space between photojournalism and art. The subject matter is also something that many don’t want hanging on their wall, but are fascinated to experience in the gallery. Each plate is unique and 12 were made for the show. A few sold during the opening and although slowly, they continue to be sold to this day with half of the series now with collectors. Reaction from fellow artist/photographers was very positive over all. My most important concern was the reaction from the people I felt really mattered, which was the soldier and the families of soldiers. My Baghdad brought people into the gallery that would not normally enter an art gallery, which I was very happy with. When a few calls from solders actually in Iraq began to come into the gallery expressing how much they liked the work the show became a slam-dunk for me. The response from soldiers was very positive, and this has contributed to my feeling that I have completed that series, and allowed me to move on to my current body of work.
Did you take any shocking images during your time in Iraq? Would that have fit into the My Baghdad series? I did not feel compelled to capture images that would have been just like those being shown by the media, although I did capture some of the destruction. The images of destruction that I captured were for comparison with images I had made in Sarajevo Bosnia in 1996. Since I was capturing images for myself I did not feel that it was necessary to capture shocking images to remember shocking events. There is more to the experience of war than only carnage and that is what My Baghdad is about. My eye was mostly drawn to the very strange, and often calm events surrounded by the environment of war. The series is extremely personal, and although centered on a current event is not to be taken as photojournalistic in terms of telling a complete story. In your artist statement, you mention using “.... the photographic plate processes of the 1800s as an attempt to create images that would be unique...” Do you feel this discovery legitimized your photography as fine art? No, I think art transcends the medium, and this defiantly applies to my work as well. I am drawn to plate photography for many reasons but one of the initial aspects was the physical presence of the image which I feel has been lost for the most part in modern image making. This attraction was my entry point into exploring the photographic plate methods and how they could be used to fully express the ideas I have. It is an anchor for much of my current work, but by no means what the work is wholly about. The combination of the processes and the subject matter as a means to explore and convey content is what makes it art. About Arizona Graves: before you started to walk these far flung graves, what was your initial interest in doing this series? Did you find your ideas changing as you spent more time around the cemeteries?
Before moving to Virginia I had lived in southern Arizona for 10 years. I had been exploring the border area for years and had started to make images of what I experienced there. One of those things was the abandoned town sites that were built around the lucrative mines that eventually dried up. Most often all that marks the town location are the remains of the mines and the town cemetery. It prompted me to think about death and what purpose personal shrines serve when they are lost to time and people stop coming to them. My ideas and feelings did in fact change the more I visited and sought out the remote cemeteries. I was first focused on the ceremonies of death, the meaning of grave decorations, and the process of forgetting as entire families move away and die off totally. The mark made by people on the land and on time was an interesting focal point. Later I started to think about economic collapse and other events that cause populations to move and abandon whole settlements. This is interesting when now considering the economic events of the past year or two. Where did “Flight Patterns” come from? “Flight Patterns” was partiality inspired by the work of Anna Atkins and her publication Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions first published in 1843. The earliest photographic images were photograms on paper developed by Henry Fox Talbot and the Atkins publication uses this method. Photograms are made without a camera, the object pictured is placed directly on the surface of the light sensitive material and exposed to light. Like my other projects I wanted to connect multiple points of photography history into one object. In this case using the earliest photographic image making process combined with glass plate image ideas from the very late 1800’s. The removal of the camera from the process was interesting to me as I felt it collapsed time and space between the viewer and
subject. This was also enhanced by the one-off nature of photograms and plate based photography. Unlike most photograms, like those made by Talbot and Atkins that were made to record specimens, the Flight Patterns plates are a bit more narrative. The series is anchored by the historic aspects above and my reactions to personal feelings connected with global environmental conditions and situations with wildlife. The results are fantastical situations containing multiple layers of meaning. What do you have planned for 2010? The past year has been spent creating the work in my latest show, Flight Patterns, which has been up since Oct. at Irvine Contemporary in D.C. Elements of that body of work were also taken to Photo Miami 2009 this month. So you can say that I am on the backside of a major effort so if things continue their normal pattern, 2010 will be a time to regroup and begin to think about the next direction. I am a slow creator, which I feel is both good and bad. I have been developing ideas to pursue with new in-camera wet colldoion and dryplate work with a 19th century 12x20 banquet camera that is just about ready for experiments in the field. And I will also be teaching more artist workshops for the VMFA in the coming year for sure. Richmond based photographer Phil Nesmith is represented by Irvine Contemporary in Washington, DC. For more infor mation www.irvinecontemporary.com
Nic DeSantis artist and visionary, schizophrenic photographer, compulsive painter, mumbler of telluric insights, cosmonaut of inner space. Nic is an anomaly, an artistic genius with a paranoid bent, unfit to wallow in the workforce. He considers the creation of art to be shamanic, therapeutic, and he produces work obsessively. The following is a collaborative writing from Nicland, that mindspace he tends to cultivate in his few visitors, and the weird series of sheds in which he works. The collaborators were myself and Nic, and possibly his dog JoJo. Nic exudes raw creative energy, and everything is transformed in the wake of his presence. My advice to you, unsuspecting reader, is to release yourself from the need to understand things, and inhale what follows as a momentary experience of a very strange yet spectacular psychological landscape.
by Nic DeSantis + S. Preston Duncan
In Nicland for shamanic vanspeak, raw wire footage from hanging light and constant trains, heatdish millionaire in the accumulated leaves of rotting books. You are intensely you. Sat in the mattress van with the television looping a feed from the camera pointing at us. Smoke falls on video equipment and rises through the soft white projections of the computer, experimenting with art and insanity, shaping words around the layers of speaker noise. A thousand ways to write your name, to sign eternity. Nic makes himself a prophet, drinking water from a 40oz vial. Suitcases are packed with photographs and the van doesn’t move. Rummaging here has the sounds of rattling pills and train track lighters shifting through thoughts and the wiry guts of machines coming undone. Here trees grow from the pages, all words roots and absorbing. My legs are numb below the heat dish, crossed so long. I once stood in the empty galleries of alleyways, meeting myself. The last thing I remember is hopping in the van, driving to the store to pick up something to drink. The windows roll up,
the AC is flipped on. I was gassed to wake up in the van talking to this schizo thinking we’re in DARPA headquarters. The light is florescent and the floor shines like ice. We wear suits and discuss the fanatic cults of dollars and fuck, turning the world’s problems like Rubiks cubes in caffeinated hands. Sterile like a hospital, something controlled, to find every atom. Sitting in a temple, basilica, cathedral, mandri, pathi, mosque, synagogue, on the altar, sacriments induced, experiment process and procedure, a rite. Look up and see freedom, freedom in rites. Legalize a masterpiece in the museum of one’s mind. In the bathtub I fuck a shampoo bottle, which had just displaced the fumes. Mind you, they teach this in schools, in a boat spinning circles, huffing glue, smashing eggs on some island, mother’s execution, Hitler red flash suddenly moved. In the mistranslated fire pits of creation, the embers shift like turtles in the slow moving flames facing skyward. Make a list of things to change in the world, it’s all money and unrecognized beauty, starving and starving. The shaman is sitting here with a cure and the military willing to back and fully fund this project to destroy the concept of money and create World Peace. I think to myself, what am I doing talking to this schizo? If we were living in a tribal village would it be insane to consume a leaf as a tool that provided an insight and
knowledge to illness, not just of one’s mind, but of the world? The disconnection within interconnection, the world is in a state of illness, the illness is around us, the horror. the horror. Nic writes himself out and I shuffle the pieces: You me Doc Baby jesus as means to genius. Brain dead. Life flickering upon the wall of a projector screen. The click click of my cannons innards drift off into this hypnotic space where I’ve sat for years hours and months as days. Build a machine and ditch these remote frames. Step outside this box as I sit here. We laughing through myself. All on tape. The hours of still framed laughter melds one mind. The circus unfolding and parades of baby elephants in thawed out epiphany. I open the door into the unexpected hallway of the libraries basement. Your new office on a campus left for decay a capsule of time and conservatory of one’s mind. Years before the flood where all the art science and technology was there to prove it. The people don’t see it or have been paid off to pretend that they’ve not. Or perhaps they’ve been through this museum before. Dumbfound ecstatic genius.
I am a 26 year old artist who lives south of the river on the train tracks.
It was the idea of I who died the day we met.
I am a painter, sculptor, photographer, filmmaker and musician.
A recollection of the medium in which we dream. Strumming sounds of stones an over grown truffle. A cast iron balcony, a crow’s nested scroll in this prepared piano of a city.
I was born into a family of artists and musicians with roots that stretch back to Milan, Italy, where my relatives were founding members of the Milan Music Conservatory.
A piece of the puzzle. They had to offer. Something I may have missed.
My family has a long history of mental illness, which I have inherited and I find the creation of art to be a very therapeutic obsession. I am very interested in the idea of shamanism and draw parallels between what it is in our culture that is defined as schizophrenic and shaman It is my goal as an artist to detach the stigma of mental illness and translate the depths of my mind through various mediums which serve as neurological pavement as we embark upon the renaissance of the mind. I traded a painting of desert Cacti for a ticket to Oahu and put a few thousand miles on a van somewhere between San Francisco, L.A. and Las Vegas.
Maybe I’m over read and under hypnosis. Having slept through Duchamp day and drinking from the fountain. It’s in the water you know. I woke up a mess acknowledging the fact that it’s bound to shatter a few strongly held delusions. Occurred to me that at some point in time I lost the concept of it. Yes, we’re talking about abstracting and altering one’s mind. Where dose the image stop? pixel by pixel, atom by atom. This conscious medium is dust. Building and building layering one’s mind until it unfolds. Far away in some imaginary space of disappearing ink. A recollection of the medium in which we dream. Elements. Molecular structure bounds scientific abstractions. Objects as ideas. Create with science. Force thought juggernaut. Say I had 5 projectors a linen room and plenty of DVDs to go around. State of the art sound. 72mm IMAX film, 3d goggles AND a scented organ. Caught between two
stations on the dial. Broadcast static. Some balanced understanding of insanity and genius evolution. What comes after noise? White White noise? The sound of Owls. At what point do we sit back and understand that technology has become a metaphor for ones psychic ability to communicate? When do we begin to rethink the idea of one’s self, our mind, how we interact with those who surround us and ones relationship to all things? Again the mind unfolds. When do we say stop? And demand our right to apply the art science and technology of today as we begin to embrace the renaissance of the mind. When do we devolve back to nature to learn the importance of one’s tribe? Is confident when playing their instrument and is open to direction or suggestion in order to capture “that” sound. Keep in mind that I have no idea what that sound may be, at times You exist as an idea. So in a sense there is two of you My minds a scattered paradox. I seem to have fallen from the pedestal I once placed myself upon. I am now forced to function somewhere between artist and man, insanity and genius, magic and dream.
A Look Back at IN by Shannon Cleary
THE BLACK AND WHITE
The photography of live music can fully embody the idea of “hit or miss.” The tricks that some photographers attempt to pull off can come off as amateurish as opposed to being clever. A single image from a concert can live on as an invigorating reminder of that instance. For the city of Richmond, one of our most esteemed photographic luminaries is PJ Sykes. In this past year, Sykes has taken his craft one step further with the creation of his blog In The Black and White. While continuing with the tradition of shooting exclusively in black and white, he has captured multiple live experiences. Each experience exhibits a sense of mood, emotion and technique that are quintessentially Syk-ian in their nature. In The Black and White exists as a way for his photographs to be accompanied by short accounts of the concerts in question. By simply examining his work at the second Heks Orkest show, he relishes in a moment where singer Dave Grant’s microphone was caught by a ceiling fan in the closing minutes of the band’s set. With the microphone wildly flying around, Sykes was able to not only capture the flailing instrument but also the glee on the face of all on-lookers. It wasn’t so much that Sykes was taking pictures of a show, he was archiving the feeling in the room in a given moment. This all-star group was garnering tremendous excitement and you don’t necessarily need to have anyone tell you that. Just look at the faces of everyone in the audience and the story tells itself with a few grins and wide eyes. His tales are not limited to this city alone. During a trip to the twentieth anniversary festival in honor of Merge Records, several of
his photographs caught the attention of many. Two bands in particular were Superchunk and Lambchop. With Superchunk, Sykes shot the band in a way that celebrated their admirable and phenomenal existence as a band. As the closers of the second night of the festival, there was an air of excitement in seeing the band perform at one of their rare tour dates in 2009. These images would find their way in the pages of Spin Magazine as a two-page spread. In regards to Lambchop, Merge Records was absolutely enamored with what Sykes’ pictures delivered. They would eventually release this live performance by the group for an official release with one of Sykes’ more memorable shots from the set as the cover artwork. When word of this caught my attention, it made me think of the general scheme of things. Not only has Sykes been rewarded with tremendous acclaim for his work but now he is included in a historical sense. Chances are that this release will find owners across the world and when they pull this release from their collections at home, this is the image they will discover. Even years from now, if this release finds it’s way into the used record bins in the basements of our favorite record stores, the moment he captured will continue to be a notable discovery for new and old listeners alike. When they open up the CD jacket sleeve, they will soon uncover the name of PJ Sykes and that name will forever live on as a result. The vision that Sykes has put in place is reputable and easily distinguishable from the rest of the liter.
His work could exist simply as a representation of Richmond and it’s musical community, but it is so much more than that. He is a reminder that this city’s reach is far beyond a quaint understanding or explanation. Sykes is an exclamation point that solidifies the scope of influence that touches the arts in Richmond. If the ones that surround us were the only inspirations we received, it would be difficult for any scene to exist for any long period of time. He shows and reminds us what drives us all and the sounds that emanate from Washington DC or North Carolina pertain just as strongly to this community as they do elsewhere.
In a single frame, Sykes can remind us what it is like to be excited by music. He can remind us what it’s like to be excited by being part of a moment stuck in time. That might be why when you see a photograph taken by PJ Sykes, you cant help but smile. His images are the old friends we have grown to love and sometimes forget are there. Sometimes it just takes the right set of eyes behind a camera to remind us of a time and place with ephemeral memories. www.pjsykes.com
What You Were Is What You Are. by Landis Wine
It seems like an impossible task to summarize 2009 in music without flow charts, complicated graphs, and moaning laments about the economy crammed into an eight- page spread that ends in an ominous question mark. For me, 2k9 was the year that sociology of new music eclipsed my interest in many of the records and tracks in question. Was Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion really a more interesting record than the overwhelming levels of hype that surrounded it and the simultaneous press orgasm that cemented the transition from criticism to celebrated consensus? Was the advent of “cloud music” providers such as Lala (now owned by Apple) and imeem (now owned by Myspace) a more compelling story than the Wavves hype cycle and subsequent breakdown in Barcelona? How do people even get music anymore? Are CDs absolutely dead? Why is vinyl still soaring? Is hip-hop dead? Lady Gaga? Why are the articles more interesting than the artist? While most would cite the curiosity about interconnectivity and our newfound access to more music than we’ve ever imagined, I think we’ve just replaced compelling music with compelling stories. I think we’re scraping the postmodernist barrel in every genre. An aggregation of safe influences and smart choices can equate to a band that’s comfortable, foolproof, and settles on “pretty” as its zenith. I think part of this has to do with my generation’s (I’m 25) penchant for borrowed nostalgia and the disgustingly high levels of Peter Pan syndrome that seems to be a symptom of an even deeper fear of failure. Recycle 75 years of music over and over and you end up with a comfortable, whipped frenzy with nothing new to say. It pains me to feel as if I’m trying to psych myself up for what are in the end mediocre records by mediocre bands. Music is integral to my life and I refuse to be an apologist for it. The depressing thing is I increasingly find myself shrugging at what rises to the surface of the blogosphere, which also happens to be what’s inspiring new bands. As the feedback loop gets tighter and tighter, records and bands get increasingly ephemeral and interchangeable. I can think of at least a dozen artists whose singles I’ve greatly enjoyed only to have them disappear into the boring vacuum of a premature full-length or a massively disappointing live show. Either way, it boils down to the fact that something drastic needs to happen. I would rather listen to a dozen albums full of ambitious failures than safe retreads. I’m not asking for anything overblown, just a healthy dose of unabashed ambition.
As for 2009, here are the notable bits from where I sit: Indie rock finally nestled itself into the mainstream in much the same way that it did decades ago in England, though not without its gnarled edges smoothed significantly. Major players Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective made records your parents could love if only for the fact that they reminded them of 70’s soft rock and 80’s electronic pop. Hardcore made some interesting turns with bands like Cult Ritual and Sex Vid, who added psych and noise textures to their music in a way that felt fresh and unpre-
“Labels continued to crumble and artist revenue continued to rise. The system collapsed and nothing really happened.” dictable in a way that hardcore rarely is. The label Woodsist released some notably hazy and distorted pop records by Ganglians, Real Estate, Woods, Psychedelic Horseshit, and Kurt Vile that deserve a mention. Black metal edged its way towards mainstream notoriety stateside. Hip-hop started incorporating Eurodisco beats that are quickly sucking the rest of the blood out of mainstream hip-hop. Gucci Mane rose to fame by repeating the same word at the end of every line and having a Bart Simpson necklace consisting entirely of diamonds. No homo. My Bloody Valentine convinced me that I was going to throw up during the breakdown of “You Made Me Realise.” Lady Gaga incorporated the look of mid-90’s NIN, Marilyn Manson, and Matthew Barney and put it to a disco beat that drove her straight to the bank. Labels continued to crumble and artist revenue continued to rise. The system collapsed and nothing really happened.
REVIEWS by Andrew Necci
World Painted Blood www.slayer.net
Slayer are the Rolling Stones of metal. As long as they keep touring, they can put out a mediocre record every five years and no one will mind. They’re only going through the motions here, and while it isn’t terrible, it’s extremely forgettable. Just put on “Reign In Blood” instead. .
The Fame Monster ladygaga.com
I’m calling it now: Lady Gaga is the Madonna of the 21st century. Get this record, revel in its perverse lyrics, art-damaged Eurodisco and “November Rain” style balladry, and when your friends finally come around in a couple of years, you can say you told them so. Trust me, it’ll rule.
Caldo Verde Records caldoverderecords.com
No Idea Records noidearecords.com
Matador Records matadorrecords.com
Jesu leader Justin Broadrick has found a way to combine doom metal and shoegaze. Where his previous band, Godflesh, felt like being hit over the head with a sledgehammer, Jesu hits you with pure sunshine. “Opiate Sun” is powerful, narcotic bliss, but it won’t make you fail a drug test .
Naked Raygun singer Jeff Pezzati has a new band, and they’re every bit as good as prime-era Naked Raygun. Who would ever have believed it? But it’s true. This is melodic punk the way it was meant to be played. Why are you still sitting there? Go buy this!
The other guitarist from Pavement finally releases a solo album, and like his rare contributions to Pavement albums, it’s spotty. At best, it resembles Neil Young’s more stretched-out jams, but most of the time, it’s just a mediocre indie album. You’re better off waiting for the Pavement reunion.
Speed Is Everything
The Real Feel
Internet Archeologist by Elliot Robinson
On October 26th 2009 a web era came to an end as Geocities was shut down. The company was bought by Yahoo! and in late April of this year they announced they would be shutting down the U.S. Branch. For those of u who don’t know or maybe to young, Geocities was a web hosting service that started in the mid 90’s and until recently consisted of at least 38 million user built pages. Now that its gone, does anybody actually realize what’s been lost? On a Saturday afternoon in early November I sat down with self-titled Internet Archaeologist Ryder Ripps in his apartment in Queens to discuss lost unicorn homepages and deleted Kitty fanatic domains.
Where did the idea for Internet archeology come from? In early June I heard about Geocities closing and there was no press about it. I heard about it on some shitty blog and Googled it, and there was nothing. Very little exposure, press, or care. It really bothered me that millions of human beings’ websites, maybe as much as Myspace, maybe a little less, were being deleted and no one seemed to notice or care. Not only was it a bunch of peoples’ stuff, but it was stuff in a time that was so pivotal for the internet, a time in ‘95 when things were first starting to happen and people were figuring out what the fuck to do with this thing and how to have a voice. This whole idea of a voice for everybody was a very web 1.0 ideal. Web 2.0 now is about not only everyone
having a voice, but everyone being a content creator. The idea of making your own website now is meaningless because you have your own Facebook page and Youtube channel. You have all this shit that is already formatted for you. I created Internet Archeology because I was upset that this stuff was vanishing. The idea of Internet Archeology is something that I have been doing as well as a lot of other people; there just hasn’t been a name for it. It’s basically going to websites that you shouldn’t be on from a cultural standpoint, fetishizing and reappropriating them. That’s something that’s been going on as a movement called “dirt style,” headed by a website called nastynets.com.
What is it aesthetically about early Internet graphic art that appeals to you so strongly? A lot of art is influenced by the notion of “the primitive.” Anthropologists like Levi Strauss would explore other cultures and bring back the ideas and artifacts of these “primitive cultures” and it would greatly influence art. I think it’s kind of the natural way of things, to be influenced by the past and to take that and do something new with it. In a way, this stuff is rooted in our bodies and culture. If you see a cave painting it might strike a chord. If it inspires you than, it has. That comes from a deeply rooted human expression. The greatest thing about art is the dialect between emotion and
tool. A man trying to emote with everything he has using this tool whether it’s a rock, a paintbrush or a computer. It’s trying so hard to get beyond that and transcend the tool. Art movements on the Internet are changing every two months. Some people see graphics as just the design of the page. I see it as art. The way things look when you go outside in New York City is all things that people had to decide. In a way that is an aesthetic choice. Things are recursive and go back to the beginning. If you look at the art of Paper Rad or go to M.I.A’s website you can see that it’s inspired by early GIF animation. It’s not that I’m in love with the way this stuff looks. Some of it I adore and some of it I don’t, but I still catalog it anyway. It’s more that I think it’s important because I think people, whether they are inspired by it now or not, are going to be inspired by it and need to see it. The problem with the Internet is that this shit just vanishes. It’s not Pompeii, it’s not going to be covered in volcanic ash and preserved for thousands of years. It’s going to vanish if someone does not show it. That’s the main driving force behind showing the aesthetic qualities of the early Internet.
How many hours of the day do you spend online? A lot. These days I’m going to sleep around 4 or 5, waking up at 12 and then spend all that time online. That’s 16 hours a day.
Damn dude. That’s a good chunk of time. How are your eyes? Good. I was worried about carpel tunnel, so I’m getting an ergonomic mouse pad to sadly replace my Mac classic pad. It’s basically a girl with two tits that are padded.
What’s it like to not have any face-to-face contact with people for most of your day? That’s a good question. It’s funny the reasons that people gravitate to this lifestyle. I’m not the only
one, you know. I have people online who I talk to all day basically who have the same lifestyle and they’re all very smart people who know a lot about culture. All of us know a lot about what’s going on outside. People have this idea that if you’re a hermit or a misanthropic person inside, you’re going to be socially inept. It’s quite the opposite. I feel like the more time I spend online the more I understand subcultures when I go into the real world. That’s the way the Internet is set up. Different sections of the Internet are for different sets of people. Doing Internet Archaeology, in a way is going where you’re not supposed to go. I don’t mean trespassing. I don’t mean that in a hacker sense. I mean as a white, 23 year old dude in New York, there’s a set of websites I’m supposed to go to. I can go to Facebook, Kanye’s blog, or some other design sites. I’m not really supposed to go to alien Nazi websites from 1995. That’s just not what I am supposed to do. That’s a ridiculous example but doing a lot of things like going on forums for different cultures you start to get a grasp of people and how they interact with media and how they interact within their culture. Not going outside is interesting. It’s a choice but it makes so much sense to me. I don’t know what to do outside anymore.
Do you remember the first time you ever logged onto the Internet?
How much or what percentage of Geocities do you think you have seen, and how much have you archived?
No. I don’t remember the first time but I have a lot of memories of early computing. My aunt owned an electronics shop all thru the 90’s and the late 80’s. She hooked us up with a Mac classic. So I was always using that. Then my dad got an IBM Aptiva in ‘96. He didn’t know shit about it so I basically figured it out. I remember when I installed a 56k modem to replace a 28k one. I was like “Dude I am fucking going do so much more online now.” That was a huge deal. I was obsessed with the Internet. Totally. Something I keep thinking about is why people wanted to get this fucking thing. The equipment was so expensive and slow and there was no content. Now getting any kind of information is so easy that people take it for granted and I think it overwhelms them. At that time you really had to dig for shit because there really was a lack of content. The availability and access was much more shoddy than it is now. So it’s really interesting why against all odds a lot of people did this stuff. A lot of people. Like me at ten years old. Why was I so into this? I remember the first time a friend and I dialed into each other’s computers at our houses and played DOOM. I was absolutely awed by that.
I’m not the only one who’s been archiving this stuff by any means. I’ve ended up with three hundred some Gigs. Which is nothing. It’s literally a drop in the bucket. This guy Jason Scott who’s kind of been doing this for a long time thinks he has over four terabytes. What I have downloaded is small but picked through. I was really focused on the downloading of “neighborhoods”. I thought that was one of the most interesting ideas of Geocities. When Geocities was founded in 1995 it was established that there would be neighborhoods set up. These neighborhoods would be the things that bound people and started a dialogue between them. There would be a neighborhood called Hollywood where people talked about celebrities, a neighborhood called Area 51 would be where people talked about aliens and so on. So it’s kind of this idea of these utopian neighborhoods where everyone could be one and have a sense of unity. Mind you Geocities in 2004 ventured into other countries. Mexico, until recently, used Geocities for everything. People adopt technology a lot slower over there. I would like to emphasize that the point of Internet Archeology is not about archiving. For me, the sheer terabyte data number doesn’t mean anything. It’s like drinking water out of a fire hydrant. It’s not productive. What Internet Archeology is focused on is not creating algorithms that crawl and store the Internet, which is what archive.org and other archivist do. What Internet Archeology wants to do is to really go through it, make sense of it, and present it. That’s where the use lies.
Where do you think the Internet is going? A lot of people are debating what web 3.0 is. Web 2.0 is basically the idea of everyone being a content creator. Someone posts something on a blog and it gets flung around on the Internet in a matter of minutes. Some great image will get posted or Tweeted and that image will be on thousands of sites in a matter of an hour. What that does is take the authorship away from the content. Once you take that away, it’s worthless. If you have a Warhol painting that wasn’t signed, it’s not worth anything. I could make a fucking silk screen that looks just like a Warhol, but it’s not going to be worth anything. That’s an epidemic that Internet Archeology speaks to. The idea that digital shit has value is the core belief of Internet Archeology. I think the idea that it doesn’t have value comes from web 2.0 in that you have to make things so fast to stay relevant. If you don’t blog every three hours, you’re not reaching the audience. A blog post that is three months old is irrelevant. It’s not news anymore. No one gives a shit. An image I posted on my blog four months ago is not something people are going to look through as opposed to web 1.0, where everyone’s websites had something at the bottom that said, “last updated at this time.” It was more like a plot of land. If something changes on a plot of land, you tell someone or people notice it. Now it’s more like Hong Kong where things are expected to change every second. The future of the Internet…I don’t know, faster. More compelling shit like what Google Wave is doing with real time access to the entire Internet, as you want it. It’s like watching TV. That’s what I think the future of the Internet is. The Internet is going to come to you instead of you coming to it. You’re not going to have to go on Facebook or whatever and figure out what you like. It’s going to figure you out. I don’t mean that in a SCI-FI way, but it’s already happening.
So SCI-FI!!! Are there any sites that you think are going to get really big soon? I think Tumblr has immense potential. I think Twitter is going to go under soon. There are plenty of sites I could name drop that have great ideas and do great things, but it doesn’t matter because they don’t have the brand. People don’t have sixteen hours to spend on the Internet like I do, so their allegiance is going to be with a specific brand. When people go to buy clothing they don’t have three months to figure out what kind of clothes they should wear, and read blogs to figure out what’s cool. They already have their ideas and preconceptions. Most sites can’t build a brand and a following and I don’t think it’s productive to name sites that don’t have that element.
Is there an ultimate goal or endgame for Internet Archeology? Book deal! Ha. I want to do a lot. I want this to be something that is not just me. I want it to build on its own and have people contributing ideas. Internet Archeology has a blog with ten contributors, so in that way it’s not really just me. To really take it to the next level we need funding and an office. We need new interfaces and new ways to find content. I would really like to enable others to be Internet Archeologists. What I do with this whole thing is really a lot of fun. Finding something that probably hasn’t been accessed in five years, to me, is like finding a hundred bucks on the street. It’s a process I would really like to show people. I don’t think it’s out of Internet Archeology’s reach to make a Facebook app. I want it to be very populist.
Cyber sex? Yes. Please. www.internetarchaeology.org | ryderripps.tumblr.com
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