Space Alien Scrolls (on black)

by Frederic Madre
from vignettes

Night came down like a curtain
- stuck with stars
A-midstream a boat hovered
- caught between shore and
Around it darkness gathered
The boatman shipped his oars
- his tiny lantern glimmered,
I could see no more.*

You’re one click away. The link is a hole, it’s a trap, covered with a few words. One click, you fall. The status bar flickers real fast below the calm black scenery, supercharging the browser with invisible data, a primitive condensation of sense to shape a World. It’s a fair and common ground you’ve seen before, the glitter of folk on black, each of us a tiny star and now, there, comes the City. Suddenly it has crept, the immense and shiny desolation of the web surfer, the infinite loneliness is made to glimmer and fade and glimmer. The surfer, it is you and you alone, has fell to the bottom of Some Universe, a trap, fell and is bound to search, as he’s prone to, for his or her same. The endless and always fruitless search of the web surfer is made here macroscopically realistic, it’s chilling and at the same time a repeatable joy. The Universe is immense, yet it is finite, its expansion would be pointless, still there is no escape. What more would one want? There is everything here, even danger looming above as starships point to shoot. Olia Lialina has constructed the perfect miniaturization of our web space: beautiful stations of preciously arranged jewels, dark shiny satellites all connected in levitation by each and every one of us, surfer that slowly glides into the black surface, silently scrolling upwards thru the debris and damage leftovers, zooming past the tiny worlds, the armored war crafts. Our moves create patterns, it is our relentless surfing which animates the online world. Perhaps at the same moment, others like you and me have fallen down and others too are pacing the same surface now loaded on their hard drive, now projected on their personal screen, now scrolling alone, parallel perusers of Some Universe, I imagine our separation: the web and the screen always separate us, from each other and the world. We’d wish to be all together, so close, always closer in the dark warmth of our screens, riding the surface of our personal pages in unison. By making them, we hope to circumvent the Spectacle and claim back our space from the Information Supermarket.

Thru the rolling ball of 24-hours open for business, Olia and Dragan bring the Night on e-commerce, as Zombie and Mummy their boney .gif corpses of stringy lines peep, lurking above every page as reminders of the alienity of humans where merchandise governs desires. They stroll their DIY figures, ill fitted for shopping and inapt for new media, always trying to be part of it all but never quite right, they are the fly in the ointment, the square monsters who comically ridicule the supposed advances of technology. Zombie and Mummy are the B-Movie folk heroes who combat the hegemony of consumer electronics by doing their best to consume as they are told. The world of Objects and the theoretical posturing that pushes more Products unto us, even in Museums, reveal that those are inept and maladapted goods for the simple needs of the living dead, our friends. Yet, Z+M are themselves the product of gone technology, what passed for hi tech a while ago but was discarded for the new, better and improved version. Having become lo-tech (Z) or cheap (M) the functionalities of those products are forgotten, but they come back to haunt us perpetually when Dragan Espenschied is at work using all kinds of watches that do not count time or when he transcends the human fiction that is space travel in Gravity, a super opera for scrolling moonscapes, jumping suits and inexpensive music. A companion piece to Some Universe, Gravity gives more power to the mighty scroll and the starry background but with a distinct accent on the slapstick of propulsion research.

The space is wide, as wide as personal computers that are connected to the network, as wide as the broadband that pulls from the depths of the freshly added hard disks, as deep as the pockets of the entrepreneurs that launch new web services to fill them up. But where is everybody? The whole wide web has turned into a blog, frozen into one form as if in unavoidable culmination of its potential. But where is everybody? ’I won’t be with you, but my thoughts will be!’ says Nikolaj, as perhaps all bloggers wished once. I cannot and you can not and we cannot be together, but by projecting our thoughts on the screen, now so thinly mediated by the CMS (now so heavily clamped down by the totalitarism of readymade templates on pre-owned company domain), now trackbacking oneself to hell, commenting faster than chat, we can type ourselves senseless so as to compose the presence of our body by pounding at the ever refreshing screen of millions. Among them, our hero Nikolaj, the alter ego of Dragan, with Olga/Olia supervising, resurrect once again the form from its death pulsion by pushing it into the stars and constellations of outer space where the true human being is a stranger to the future of his strange civilization. It is with true folk mastery that they manage to radically reinvent the blog, salvaging its structure and idioms, both in style and content with their trademark extra dry humor. The posts, day after day, pile up so as to compose some kind of vertical imagic structure which is a schematic representation of the bloggers thoughts. The text of those thoughts is stripped to its barest, words juxtaposed which make up the basis for the crucial navigation offering a novel way to envisage text on the screen: as bits of matter floating into the unfathomable void. The disorienting effect is at its nonsensical best when one actions the zooming options, moving the structure further or closer within the infinite vacuity of online communication. The sculpture of images is lost in space, unreachable, the act of blogging is here distanciated for good.

Further or closer to the ever expanding marketability of the web’s functions and iconic accoutrements, embracing it as well as questioning its inbred futility, our pioneering couple now venture to lead the way in representation of :

  • Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability
  • Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
  • Trusting users as co-developers
  • Harnessing collective intelligence
  • Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service
  • Software above the level of a single device
  • Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models**
The resulting imagery of ’With elements of Web 2.0’ is chilling and familiar in its re-enactment of primeval spiritual representation. In ’Constellations’ the starry night backdrop seems belittled by the gigantic figures of Holy Mother and Son as they blankly stare beyond us sided by the duality of the micro-market and the ominous reaper figure of the rating stars, all so big and anodized yellow as in a new age trinity of blind faith and ruthless democratic order. The vision of ’Dimension’ is even more repulsive as all life as now evicted our space, the white evil layout of the faked notebook looks scarred and empty like a corpse sucked out of its blood, besides it the spiked techno skeleton of the ominous zoom slider is a cross without a prophet. This map is our cemetery: Only Zombie and Mummy can dig us out of the web’s fresh new grave.

Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again.

* Civilisation (Art Bears, 1981)
** What Is Web 2.0 (Tim O’Reilly, 2005)
*** Helter Skelter (Beatles, 1968)