Looking at the same types of images by the same types of people on social media can desensitize you; honestly, it gets boring, like you're trapped in a photographic purgatory where no matter how many times you refresh your feed, nothing is satisfying, no matter how many likes or comments. INTERNET K-HOLE, a blog of found and collected snapshots from the 80’s and 90s by semi-anonymous author Bronwyn, is the veritable opposite of that, a refreshing alternative when it comes to glimpses of different kinds of living. The massive archive of retro photos, which has been active since 2010, recently switched over from Blogger to Tumblr, the first major move for a site that has remained largely unchanged since its inception. We caught up with founder Bronwyn, formerly the site's anonymous legend, "Babs," to probe the move, and find out how it feels to keep the web's most interesting found photo blog going, five years strong.
The Creators Project: You were semi-anonymous for a while, going by "Babs" and keeping a low-profile, but now with INTERNET K-HOLE's Instagram, you've become somewhat public, with your own feed mixing with the blog's, and with your name and face out in the open. What caused this shift?
Bronwyn: I wasn't really conscious of being less-anonymous. When I first started the blog I didn't have my name on it just because I didn't want anyone I worked with or certain people in my family to know because of the nudity, etc. Originally my Instagram was just personal, and gradually I started to notify people when I put up a new post. I think the longer I have the blog, the less paranoid I am of my religious relatives finding it or something!
What motivated the switch from Blogspot to Tumblr?
I actually wish it was still on Blogspot, I like how long the posts were and how uncool and old Blogspot is. It seems like everyone and their brother has a Tumblr now, and I don't really like the interface. I had to switch because I'm basically computer illiterate and I kept getting in trouble from image sharing sites for the nature of the photos, and they would lock me out of the account. With Tumblr you can just directly upload the photo, but it sucks because you can only do 10 per post. I had to resize every photo individually for Blogspot which was extremely time consuming, whereas with Tumblr it just does it for you. I wish I could just build my own website but I have no idea how to do it.
Why do you specifically focus on 1980s/90s content for INTERNET K-HOLE? Would you ever include content from, or make a blog for another time period, or do you have a specific sensibility for the 80s and 90s?
The majority of photos are from the 80s and 90s, but I do include some from the 70s and 60s. I mainly focus on those periods because all of the photos are film, which is so much more magical than digital photos. I'm also a huge fan of music from those periods, especially metal and punk, and I love the fashion. In my own life, the 90s were really special to me because of huge milestones in my life, like hearing Nirvana for the first time and getting into punk rock.
INTERNET K-HOLE is essentially a social media feed depicting a time that didn't have access to social media. Has anyone from your blog's images, or from their time periods, ever gotten in contact with you? How'd they react?
Mostly they've reacted really positively. I've had a lot of people email me and say "I've been waiting to see myself on your blog!" A couple people have asked me to take their photos down, which I always have.
You've been updating INTERNET K-HOLE for such a long time, yet the blog still feels very well curated and the quality of content is still fantastic. Has it been become more difficult to maintain the same level of quality and find compelling images and videos over the five years you've been doing this?
Yeah I feel like it's harder to find photos actually. I have a bunch of tricks I use to find photos on the Internet and now so many photos I've already used come up which can be frustrating. I've gotten more submissions lately, which is so awesome because a lot of them send in photos of themselves/their own friends in the 80s/90s, and they're not already on the Internet. The weirdest thing to me is when people submit a digital photo from like 2008. Its so weird, do they even look at the blog?!
It feels so incredibly nostalgic. Something about it truly romanticises the depicted years. Do you think that images of the the 2000s/2010s will be similarly coveted in the future, or have we over-documented it to the point of boredom?
I'm sure they'll be coveted by many people, but I prefer film so for me personally, it won't be the same. Film photos are so amazing because of the flaws and weird colors that appear, you just can't get that with digital. A lot of my favorite photos I find are the ones that are totally fucked-up looking, and if someone took it on their phone of digital camera they'd just delete it. I feel like the way we take photos is totally different and there's less art to it. Even the way people pose for a photo has changed and it bums me out. I guess it just depends on what aesthetic you prefer. I do feel like everything is over-documented, but I'm guilty of doing that as well.