- Once the performance starts, there is no way to stop it, so consider that before clicking!
- It is very likely that after it has started, you won't be able to go back and start it again.
- The performance runs for a little over 13 minutes, depending on the network.
- This works on smaller screens, but you'll miss some stuff. Slightly smaller than 1600x1200 is ideal.
What to say about this? First, what is this? This piece is technically a website but I see this as a performance — it should be treated accordingly. Most webpages are increasingly about interaction, and historically the web was built upon the concept of the hyperlink, but this webpage is for watching and reflecting and getting lost in your own thoughts. It runs for a little over 13 minutes.
The performance is theoretically repeatable, but if your browser has taken it upon itself to cache the content (this is likely), it means that the piece is not repeatable — you can’t go back in time. This is an encouragement to sit still and enjoy it, something I personally have a hard time doing with any media, especially one delivered alongside my other primary source of notifications and attention-detractors. Consider it a challenge to go back in time, where pages loaded slowly and one at a time. Think of it like this: tabs in browsers were not a common feature until 2003.
(You can use private browsing mode, and I recommend doing this.)
Next, what is this all about? The subject of the performance is based around telling the story of how the web and I grew up together. We were both born in the late 1980s, then went through essential steps of development like learning how to read and write in the early '90s. Then we went through puberty at the same time, starting in the late 1990s. For me, it involved bouncing around pages of links and free website hosting, using every chat program I could find, and using the computer as much as possible when I wasn’t watching MTV or riding a bike or other things that preteens do. The web, meanwhile, had just taken off its training wheels and exploded into mass North American culture, suddenly everywhere all the time, blossoming so prolific that we colloquially refer to the entire internet as this portion of it. This project is about that. It’s an homage to myself and the other people out there (preteens or not) cobbling together little homes on the web, experimenting and trying new things, while the internet was going through this massive period of growth and transformation, too.
But it's not all flowers and butterflies. We have this viewpoint of the internet as it was, and we look at it with rose-colored glasses, so-to-speak, as if it were an idyllic, wonderful time. But the same internet with quaint homepages lovingly hand-coded with guestbooks and off-the-cuff status updates also hosted rampant advertising, weird scams, malicious behavior, and honestly just a lot of junk. I spend a lot of time wearing those nostalgia glasses; it’s a lot of what I do in my career and also as hobby projects (e.g Internet Girlfriend Club), but the web is so much deeper than that. It's not good or bad. It just is. In this sense, it's an anti-homage to both the media cliche of boys frothing over slowly-loading boobs and the onslaught of advertisement and corporate interest eating up any promise of the web.
Making this piece was difficult at a certain point in building up the performance. It was really hard to say goodbye. I was surprised at how many emotions it conjured up for me. But that feeling I had fighting against it and being so disappointed after I started, that feeling meant I absolutely had to do it. Art is about conveying emotion, and I hope people get the same feelings from the piece. I want them to feel angry and annoyed, and to wish things could go back to how they were. But you can’t go back. And we can’t go back, in general, to this ethereal beautiful web experience not only because we don’t have time-machines but because it never really existed in the first place, not in such a pure way.
I hope you enjoy this work, or have recently come back to this page after enjoying it. I hope it gives you space to meditate on this thing we use every day, and the role it has played it your life.