“The undead past, now brought to light, is made possible by the re-remembrance of altered ghosts.”
Trigg, Dylan. The Aesthetics of Decay, 2006, p.135
This is my first journal entry as Nokturno’s 2021 digital-poet-in-residence. This space will contain some reflections and theoretical studies pertaining to my project in the weeks to come, as a progress diary of my time as a resident.
For this first entry, I will briefly explain the concept behind ‘Overflowing Gardens of Decay’ and what brought me to experiment with the vast accumulation of online waste. Its conceptualization began after my master’s thesis on Internet decay and the specific aesthetics that it conveys, akin to some extent to the appreciation of architectural ruins, or ‘ruinophilia’¹.
Despite sharing many aesthetic similarities that I will cover in future posts, the main difference between architectural ruins and digital ones is in how relevant linear time is in shaping their deterioration processes. In the specific context of the Web, content decay is manifested through the lack of interest in preserving information or the deliberate interest in eliminating it, rather than a following the ‘natural’ passage of time. As a result, certain contents from the ‘Vernacular Web’ ² can remain intact, whereas a hyperlink from yesterday’s news page could already lead to a dead-end.
In a way, this project aims to show that, even in such indeterminate spaces that are usually discouraged to be seen or experienced, there is always the potential for beauty to be found – or created.
The basic concept of this piece, manifested in the form of a web-based performance, is to inject pieces of my poetry and visual art in unmaintained pages and broken links, creating a sort of temporary content ‘parasite’ into those online dead-ends. To do so, the project will require quite complex programming skills, as there is a lot to consider regarding legal and ethical issues when building an interactive real-time web scraping tool. I have already developed a simpler version that works in my own machine, but for the final launch it needs to be safe for the audience to browse, and lightweight enough as not to overload the servers, which would be costly and unmaintainable for the long-term.
There is an ironic, even poetic, sense of recursion in presenting this as an online-only project, with an online-only documentation, as it is fated to the same doom it intends to reveal and reflect upon. I am utterly enjoying this process and I am looking forward to seeing where my experiments with digital text-based media will lead me this time.
Finally, I would like to end this entry by thanking Virpi Vairinen, Teemu Tuovinen, and everyone at Nokturno for the support and space.
- Boym, S. (2011) ‘Ruinophilia: Appreciation of Ruins’, Atlas of Transformation. Available at: http://monumenttotransformation.org/atlas-of-transformation/html/r/ruinophilia/ruinophilia-appreciation-of-ruins-svetlana-boym.html (Accessed: 30 May 2021)
- Lialina, O. (2010) A Vernacular Web. Available at: http://art.teleportacia.org/observation/vernacular (Accessed: 28 May 2021)