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~ Words on art, motion and the internet ~

Rainer Rainer Rainer Rainer Rainer Rainer Rainer Rainer Rainer

welcome to my web ring


。. : ゚・✦✿ . *☻★ ☯ ☆☺* . ❀✧・゚: .。

୨♡︎୧ᵕ ♥︎ Chapter Ⅰ. FANTASY DRIVE

~ lilac square ~ periwinkle bubble ~ orphan line ~ Placed upon a grid of millions for some to see

    There is lost power in memories of the early internet. Web 1.0 is mostly remembered for the many splintered hobbyist communities that carved their own spaces there- long before the centralisation on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Many before me have said that plumbing the remnants of the old web is like looking over digital ruins. After the shutting down of GeoCities and other servers, many of the only remnants of old websites are kept in digital archives- collated by both dedicated digital archivists and automated web trawlers. But even with care and thought placed in them, these images and webpages too can be forgotten about. Overshadowed by the pursuit of new media, they’re forgotten by users and search engines once again.

User-made creations still stand, but soon those too will be reduced to nothing. The digital’s pastiche of pure ephemerality is an important myth to dispel- it’s all stored on some form of hardware. Hard drives fail and get wiped, servers cleared and repurposed. Money runs out for hosting, and the people who created these spaces move on with their lives. Digital archival is a whole other matter, but here I want to think about these spaces- half digital and half memory. Their physical forms - the body - is left far behind in our consciousness.

As I think about these digital edifaces, lonely and hermit-like, I think back to childhood and to my name.[1] To a young Rainer, the information lattice meant a wealth of things to draw patterns between. I know better now- how to navigate, to read and to understand. I’ve lost that hyperimaginative part of me. I’ll never feel the same way I once did, finding something strange while browsing and feeling like I had it all to myself - like a secret I couldn’t tell anyone. A video about something too obscure to bring up in normal conversation, a Wordpress blog on pre-2000s anime ovas that were made for no real audience, to talk amongst four people in a forgotten forum thread about a game that seems lost for good reason- often for terrible quality and/or disgusting content.

The internet’s nature as an intangible nexus of memory, symbols and information invoked through hardware was laid bare- other people may as well have just been bots and automated replies- letters blend together, writing patterns become blurred. I became aware that I’m alone in my room with my computer.

Even as I interact with others, it’s hard to ignore that solitude. As I interface, I temporarily leave my body behind- perhaps I am more true when I speak through the screen.

🕷♡*ೃ Chapter Ⅱ. LOVE IN THE VOID

I stand under the heater ~ I wake up from a dream ~ I open my eyes in the dark

    It’s difficult to say just how melancholy manifests in my work- it’s always there, but it’s hard to see. It hides between pastel satin and plastic in an empty room. A loving crush of oblivion that has been with me since primary school. Divine, despairing, elegiac, euphoric- a moving feeling that pushes me to do nothing at all. It’s a feeling I can escape from sometimes- I can buy more time, but it will always catch up.

My artmaking is always grappling with this- between my body and my nothingness. The universe may be held in my empty hands, but then what do I do with it? Sit down in peace and silence, or get back up and continue my work?

In thinking about these digital relics, I can’t help but feel a kinship with these forgotten things. Denied physical form, their bodies lie somewhere secret and far away. Artefacts of conversation, images, memories that remain stuck in time like insects in resin.[1] Nowhere else in time can you see a dropped conversation between people, or even begin to fathom the sheer amount of things that get lost. We think about the generations of the web as eras of history, but like all histories they're built on the remains of what came before- what gets left behind always manages to peek through.

There is a grief I can’t help but feel- the grief over losing childhood, and that of remembering. My recollections of using the computer blur boundaries between bodies and interfaces- maybe you feel it too? I don’t remember my hands typing on keyboards, my breathing as my eyes dart around a screen, or the clicks of a mouse. I remember interfacing with information, my body left far behind as I watch, think, listen. I don’t remember the contours of my body. I connect with Nothingness, with potentiality.

But these things - bodies, computers- both exist physically and metaphysically, undivided.[2] No one can leave their body behind forever. I come to terms with myself, no matter the changes I may go through. I have to accept the marks left on me from every space I navigate through, the people I’ve met, and the monuments I’ve made and left behind as I’ve grown up. Memories of being someone else, those fragments of dead names and my teenage years remain stuck somewhere- Last Online 8 years ago. These remnants stuck in time give little snapshots into my past, better preserved than writings and scribbles in diaries that have been thrown out.

With these moments in time stuck somewhere in the realm of information, contained within a server, my personhood also collapses and contaminates. In a constant state of becoming, I carry what came before towards a hazy goal that slips in and out of focus.

♡.:彡ㅤ✎ Chapter Ⅲ. BOYGIRLWORLD

In being ~ In becoming ~ In boygirlworld

    Letting all feeling roll over me, I am left to quiet myself down and begin to make. Reaching out, I grasp and touch things through my mind, my computer screen. I construct my world, my companions, my body, my self. My mind may splinter, and I may leave my body behind, but the two are never far away- united to sit down and enjoy the act of creation. Hit buttons, draw a line, tie a bow. Fingers, eyes, ears, shoulders, heart.

Nothingness begets infinity- the endless, eternal drive to bring things into being. Tao, the origin of all things- inexhaustible creativity brought about from the dark, changing, infinite matrix/void/womb - dynamic emptiness.[4] Where despair stills my hand and heart, the void within me can be turned towards construction. Yielding to this eternal motion, I make artwork and write my little sentences. Symbols become form become substance.

In boygirlworld I return to my shifting, flowing form - asboy / girl / nothing / something / material / ephemera / love / power / being.

My artmaking has drifted back and forth from the computer- I started making art in high school on my laptop after watching my friends drawing digitally. In university, my interest waned as it felt closer to a gimmick than to any “real art”. It can’t exist in space without mediation- through a screen, projected, printed out or re-rendered in paint. It’s as much an image as it is the necessary wiring and machinery that bring it to life, but in a gallery space the hardware is a problem to be dealt with. Internal fans whir, machines heat up, cables get plugged and unplugged- all things that disturb the stillness of a white wall gallery and must be hidden from view. But its power comes from both its ubiquity and its newness. Without the burden of history like painting or sculpture, it’s free to exist on all levels, accessible and constantly shifting. If it can connect to the internet I can look at it, enjoy it, and talk about it afterwards. It’s synthesis into traditional mediums robs it of some of that power- tames it and makes it more palatable. It shouldn’t be the case that one form is more ‘art’ than the other, that it has to be mediated, altered, or filtered into acceptability.

This messy non-space of noisy existence is what I become connected to the most. Hardware and bodies may hide but they can’t be banished. Personhood and machine may become mediated, domesticated for others to enjoy, but this too can exist in a form more wild, constantly shifting and changing, pointing in different directions without a centre. I can become information, there in silence to observe imagery and conversation. In all things we do, indelible marks remain. Everything is graced, but grace fades. I may punctuate my observation with the art I leave behind, but many of these too will be lost to the void- to the dead ends in the information universe.

As I turn my inner void into infinite action I embody lost power. In everything I make, I surrender it to the void. Some things may become lost, other things that should be lost remain- it’s impossible for me to divine which of my creations will last, and I don’t need to learn. I’m content in some of my best work remaining hidden to all but those who look. When things become lost I’ll return to pick up the pieces and make something new. I’ve done my job if you’ve made it this far, even moreso if you take away something from all of this. If I can remain in someone’s memory, I’m happy.

[1] Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, trans. Charlie Louth (London: Penguin Books, 2016), 1–52.
[2] Wikipedia Contributors, “Death and the Internet,” Wikipedia (Wikimedia Foundation, June 15, 2022).
[3] Elaine Graham, “Cyborgs or Godesses? Becoming Divine in a Cyberfeminist Age // 1999,” in Magic, ed. Jamies Sutcliffe (London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2021), 132–33.
[1] Ellen M Chen, In Praise of Nothing : An Exploration of Daoist Fundamental Ontology (Xlibris Corporation, 2011), 87.

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