Old sci-fi films have a way of sending viewers into fits of giggles at their imagined futures. “In the year 2000…” the streets are busy with flying cars, flashing neon signs, servile robots and undeniably awesome fashion.
Alain Vonck is a French art director and designer who explores this idea of the futuristic past in his work. He’s a bit of a modern day Indiana Jones, an archeologist investigating the fascinating mysteries of the pre-historic Internet, before its web design invasion and social networking civilisation. His excavations of the beginnings of the world wide web are transformed into beautifully nostalgic images of a past that stands not so far away from now.
“Who can remember a website design from 1995? Maybe some enthusiastic users from the beginning who experienced Internet as Utopian media, media of the future. Everything was allowed, the best and the worst.”
With RGB colour schemes, user interface emblems, pixelated fonts and images, and repetitive amateur gifs, Vonck recreates the awkward aesthetics of the 90s internet era. Outdated webpages become the source of digital surrealism, through which the designer constructs visual odes to the good old days of Web 1.0 and Yahoo Geocities in dreamlike landscapes.
"But the internet is also art, an aesthetic, a pop culture, and a vernacular language mostly ignored by today’s users. Becoming a mass media, the internet is subject to perpetual update. It is in present time and novelty yet remains an extraordinary archiving tool. If the web saves history perfectly, its own past is buried in obsolete databases."
We might not be living among replicants quite yet, but it’s hard to deny the blistering progress of technology around us. I can remember playing Super Mario on Nintendo for years, and needing to rewind VHS tapes before returning them to the rental place. But I can’t remember what Facebook looked like two days ago, or what new photo, video or text app I’m supposed to be into. When time moves this fast, nostalgia is a little hard to come by - ultimately, Alain Vonck gives us a chance to miss something.
Words / Ana Gomides