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The Internet Black Market That Brings Online Browsing to Life

This past weekend was the biggest net-nerd fest yet. You could find and browse all the internet kitsch your heart desires “offline” at the Yami–ichi Internet Black Market in Berlin.

“I do not know what I am saying!” Internet Dude screamed out tweets as he walked through the rows of market sellers, from the URL Lottery to Firefox tattoos.

This past weekend was the biggest net-nerd fest yet. You could find and browse all the internet kitsch your heart desires “offline” at the Yami–ichi Internet Black Market in Berlin. Market-goers could experience what a "tweet" felt like in real life or they could buy a small bottle of MacBook-Air air. The strangest of the internet goods came to life at what felt like a small mall in Tokyo: laptops were scattered everywhere; CDRs covered all the tables; and three different languages were within earshot at any given time.

“Once upon a time, the internet was supposed to be a place for liberty, now it’s so uptight,” said Sembo Kensuke and Yae Akaiwa, the Japanese net artists who co-organize the event. “We explore what offline is and isn’t.”

Since its launch in late 2012 in Tokyo, the Yami-ichi Internet Black Market has made a big bang with international buzz. This weekend in Berlin was one of the biggest with 50 exhibitors in total—20 who flew from Japan and 30 “local” vendors from from America, Australia, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. Even though I spotted a few “sold out” signs at the end of the day, profit isn’t the focus: some sellers crowdsource their flights to be a part of the spirited event. They view it as a digital vacation.

In case you didn’t make it to Berlin—or even if you did—here are the biggest analogue hits at event, which was presented with the Transmediale festival for art and digital culture. “Once you do it, everyone connects with the idea,” said Kensuke. “It’s like everyone has been waiting for it.”

Internet Dude will scream Tweets for you for 50 cents, or if you want him to “follow you” he will follow you around the market for a period of time.

"Edward Snowden Globes" by

Jens U. Jorgensen. This snowglobe features "NSA data" that, erm, leaked from the floating USB drive. 

"Love Letters by Russian Spam Bots" by Carl Emil Carlsen.

Dorita Takido designed web browser tableware.

Glitch Embroidery sweaters by Nukeme. You can only buy these at the black market due to copyright, er, complications.

Photo Shop by Dutch artist Lukas Julius Keijser: “Your 1.5 MB of fame.”

MacBook-Air Air by Shunya Hagiwara, which offered offered bottled air from Japan.

Katsuki Nogami, who was wearing an Internet Explorer tattoo by Dorita Takido, was selling digital travel portraits.

Solo black market jacket dude by DIY Church, which sells random objects that have been put through a plastic chute and their sound recorded into a .wav file.

Filmmaker and comic artist Hoji Tsuchiya was crowdfunding for an animated film production.

Buddha statues and a Pray and Fortune Telling Game by writer and editor, Fukuda Kenichi.

The NMN cat by Christian Graupner. The Japanese Maneki Neko lucky cat holds a "no more nuke" sign, signifying "bye-bye" instead of "welcome."

@nadjasayej