Doug Battenhausen – Internet History

Searching public and social photo-sharing sites (such as Webshots, Flickr, Photobucket etc.) for images from defunct user-accounts, Battenhausen collects abandoned pictures, curating and re-archiving his findings on his tumblr site Internet History (Started 2010).

As a sort of negator to the sterile and dispassionate camera-phone-photos (with all their filters and tweaks we are now so used to seeing), Battenhausen finds beauty in the strangeness of average photos of everyday life – most of the pictures have an amateur aesthetic, some of the subject matter borders on the bizarre, but all evoke emotion. Nostalgic, but only as far back as when digital cameras and internet connections in the family home were popularised, Internet History gives these lost images a second life.

In an interview with Vice magazine, Battenhausen states :

“Typically, I don’t know anything about the people who took these pictures outside of what their photos tell me, but I wonder all the time about who they are and what they are doing now”

“I like to imagine the ideal viewer of Internet History is scrolling through it on a smartphone, alone and drunk at a bar.”

One of the main reasons as to why this collection of ‘odd’ images inspires me is that they point towards the fact that the pictures that we see online, that we take for granted, that we give less than a seconds attention to as we scroll down and click through, actually happened in real life.  As my work focuses on posting content online of a curation of events that happen just so they can exist on the internet, Battenhausen’s collection intrigues me as this is obviously what other people do every day, often without thought or care, it has become a natural consequence of living, documenting life, and being connected to the world wide web.  Although I am fabricating a life lived online, I am also actually living the life that I have created, and it is the realism of this collection of images, and the way they are presented – just so a user can scroll through them at leisure, that informs and validates the existence of ALAN.

I chose this artist to present as the work he is doing is so every-day, it is accessible to and viewed by a wide range of audience – most, probably not looking at it as a piece of art, maybe merely just as another funny website on the internet.  But this work has such commentary on our internet culture, it shows how we share ourselves, even with the most basic tools of ‘modern’ technology, whilst also highlighting that the online community is really just made up of insatiable voyeurs.

As well as providing a platform for Internet History, Battenhausen also has a personal blog called Something like a visual diary – in which the photos that he has taken and chosen to share depict snapshots of events that have occurred in his real life.  I would really like some of my work to have the same type of feeling – a kind of effortless view of ALANs life – even though behind the photos, as in every reality, so much has happened, there is a full-length story in every image.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Internet History project there’s a lengthy interview with Doug Battenhausen here.

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