Travel

Mining the Depths of the Internet for Art

The first installment of Accidental Internet, a new series where Gideon Jacobs and Eric Oglander crawl the web looking for strange and beautiful pieces of text and images.

by Gideon Jacobs and Eric Oglander
May 3 2016, 8:11pm

This is the first installment of Accidental Internet, a new column by artist Eric Oglander and writer Gideon Jacobs. Every month, Eric and Gideon will be presenting a collection of artful images and poetic text that they've found while mining the depths of the web. The idea is to find small pieces of unexpected and unintentional beauty amidst all the noise. VICE asked the collaborators to interview each other about the project to explain the concept and the plan.

Gideon Jacobs: OK, we're recording... Hi Eric. How do we go about this? Where should we start?

Eric Oglander: Well, you initially came to me with the idea for a VICE column called Accidental Internet because we're good buds, and you were familiar with my project, Craigslist Mirrors, in which I collect photographs of mirrors for sale on Craigslist. I asked you to write the preface to the publication I just released via 8 Ball Zines, and we've had a bunch of conversations about the project—where it's going, where it's been. So, I guess you could say the idea of Accidental Internet was born out of those chats.

Gideon: I also think we share an interest in taking practices and methodologies that are established in the "real" tangible world, and applying them to the "unreal" digital world. Take photography itself as an example: I think we both see it as a practice of capturing or selecting moments/perspectives that already exist. In this sense, photography is a curatorial medium—the art of choosing what to save and present from a totally huge but inherently finite pool of moments. You know what else is a huge but inherently finite pool of stuff? The internet!

Eric: But for this project, I'm gonna be the one mining the internet for pictures, while you're going to be the one mining it for text. So, how does this fit in with your work as a writer?

Gideon: Well, although I'm a writer, a lot of my projects, like that fake Instagram road trip I just did, could be considered "internet art," I guess. Also, I worked as the creative director of Magnum Photos for a while, so my interest in photography always leaks into my writing. This is all to say that, although I'll be finding snippets of poetic writing, I'm gonna treat it like a photographic process. It will still be like searching for diamonds in the rough, or maybe better put, resonant frequencies amidst the noise. It's basically a collector's mentality—sifting through junk to find something that is undervalued. I know collecting is something you relate to, both as a photographer and a sculpture.

Eric: Yeah, collecting has always been a huge part of my life. Going to countless garage sales and estate sales with my mom and brother were very formative experiences. I've always been attracted to the unique and the antique, and all my sculpture work revolves around found objects—things that weren't created as art, like say, tools, and presenting them in some artful way. You and I recently went to a lecture about outsider art, and then ended up talking about how much we tend to fetishize unintentional beauty. We're calling this project Accidental Internet but really it could have been called "Unintentional Internet Art" or something.

Gideon: Totally agree. So, we're going to be searching the depths of the internet—places like Craigslist, Yelp, Reddit, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. etc.—for stuff that we find beautiful, compelling, or interesting, that was not created with the intention of being beautiful, compelling, or interesting.

Eric: Nailed it. I think we're good.

Gideon: Cool. That was fun.

Below is the first installment of Accidental Internet:

"I was born an entertainer, I didn't chose to but it chose me. Or at least that's what they keep saying to me. I have to admit it, I'm a bit of a star in the surroundings. People come from all places just to watch me stand still as they capture a bit of my soul with their cameras. I don't mind, after all, I am an entertainer. I am an entertainer, and it doesn't take much of work to do. I just have to be myself, or what they tell me about myself. What I like most about my job, is the children, I always enjoy watching them looking at me with great awe and I surely try to make their coming worth a while. You see, i thrive on their innocence, in their ignorance as they thrive in my lack of intimacy. I don't really mind, after all, I am an entertainer." (Reddit)

"The day I made a deal with my brother. I can feel you. An uneasy feeling. I dreamt of you one night. Theres no need for details. Sorry if I offended you. Thanks for inviting me over for dinner even tho the feast is bitter. It was good in the beginning. I love what you've done with the place. I hope I wasn't expecting to much from you. I know you're saying "you ask for to much" yeah yeah why wont I start doing. Same old story. All I won't is a movie deal hey you keep the play money. I write, Direct and act in with who I choose." (Craigslist)

"Karma is strange. "What goes around, comes around" is the old saying. What did I do to deserve this?? my life, my dream, my whole world has been taken away, and I don't understand why. Evil people like Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson are allowed to have their dreams come true. All I wanted was my life back, my family back. And that's too much to ask for? So now, I'm sitting here behind a school on a Saturday. I have no where else to go. No one even cares. I am diabetic, so maybe if I go drink enough soda, I will just fall asleep and never be heard from again. Doubt anyone would ever notice." (Reddit

"The rules here are simple, hang out with your own race. Take care of your bunkmake and he will take care of you. Don't act all hard and don't talk shit. Share your newspapers, books, and other valuable commodities (cigarettes), and others will do the same to you. Keep yourself clean and watch out for the rats. Old advice you learned as a kid applies here: Do unto others as you would have them do onto you. If you have nothing nice to say, shut up. Sharing is caring. Always ask for permission." (Yelp)

"I don't know if you are coached into such a game, as a hunter looking for Deer. Yet I can tell you this, not on this board not on my watch, as an American. I will not let any one disgrace this nation, for sport or common usage not recognized by God himself, as the strong hold we bond and come together as a great nation. It is fertile to our young people, to our neighbors, to or military, to one another, as Americans." (Craigslist)

"She'll then usually end the story by saying, 'It only takes a few moments of your day to change someone's life for the better.' The part that gets me is, it must be obvious to everyone else that this never happened, but these stories are always covered in comments from people saying, 'You're so kind.' and 'The world needs more like you' or idiots who are also liars who say something like, 'Happens to me all the time. It's why I'm thankful I know [Some Obscure Type of Karate].'" (Reddit)

"maybe i just entered the wrong circle. what i mean to say is that maybe i just tried to fit in to a new set of people without noticing that i'm triangularly shaped while i'm trying to 'puzzle in' my figure for a box. maybe i just had the wrong look on the map that's why when i turned my car into another road it feels like cliff or a dead end was rudely waiting for me to fall.definitely, all of my maybes are true. i am certain that my life before was controlled by other people. i was like a puppet and the social anxiety is my savage ventriloquist. and now that the strings inside of me are broken and cut into thin strands, i can freely move just like the bird set free." (Tumblr)

"Why can't I just have someone cuddle me and play in my hair and get fed up with me being sad and tease me until I smile and tickle me silly to keep it there and then cuddle me more afterwards I don't get it." (Tumblr)

Gideon Jacobs is a writer and artist based in New York City. You can follow his work here.

Eric Oglander is an artist based in New York City and the king of Craigslist Mirrors.