“Before Dada was there, there was Dada.”
– Hans Arp, 1919
In high school I learned about the art movement of Surrealism. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I discovered the wacky, thoughtful, wonderful world of Dada that paved the way for Surrealism.
Responding to the chaos and horrors of World War I, Dada artists saw the beauty in everyday objects and slashed at conventional thought. What is art? Who decides? Is a toilet art? Are ticket stubs pasted on plywood art? Is Mona Lisa art? Do you have to have “talent” or a degree to make art?
Dada insisted that art by the “masters” needed a second, skewed, look.
Dada also insisted that itself wasn’t an art movement, that it was “nothing”. “Like everything in Life, Dada is useless,” said
What captured my attention, and keeps me thinking it was the greatest (anti-art) art movement in the history of art, is the humour, irreverence, and political nature of Dada work. What better way to poke fun at the establishment and bring them down a notch? Taking familiar images and every day, modern items and making people think or laugh at them.
One technique the Dadaists used in creating works was the law of chance. Forever pushing back at the status quo, Dada artists purposed that complete and utter thoughtlessness could give birth to art just as good and interesting as pieces that required countless hours and precise technique. The unconscious was allowed to rule. “The ‘law of chance,'” Hans Arp wrote, “can be experienced only in a total surrender to the unconscious.”
Arp tore the pieces by hand, instead of using a precise instrument, tossed them down and pasted them where they fell.
I began thinking about the vast array of webpages on the internet and looking at it from a Dadaist point of view. Internet Live Stats tells us that the second I write this there are 1,091,056,628 websites with about 10 new sites every second. It’s like thinking about how vast the universe is. Very incomprehensible. And what are all these sites? Can you even fathom the vast array of subjects, designs and purposes?
In the early days of the internet, we are talking 1992 for me, I would occasionally browse around and check sites randomly. It’s not something I do today. Busy life, too much time already spent staring at a screen, and it would be like scrutinizing one grain of sand in a palm-full. You could go mad!
But I decided to take that chance and do an internet Dada art piece. The idea is try and unearth some random, obscure webpages. The most popular sites show up in the first two pages of a Google search. There are thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions of webpages linked to a specific keyword search that no one checks out because they do not show up in the first two pages. What are these sites? Who created them? When were they created? How closely are they associated with the Google keyword?
Step one: Randomly choose a subject for Google (English) to search on. This required randomly typed letters that Google would use to suggest a topic.
Step two: Humming the first phrase of “Skip to my Loo, My Darling”, I clicked forwarded through Google search pages by 10, then randomly, and then stopped when the song ended.
Step three: With eyes closed, I moved the mouse around, counting to five. I chose the closest link my mouse landed near.
I did these steps five times.
1. Word typed: siek
An up-to-date German news website where the first word is “siek”. The story is about a car fire on the highway, along with some very unexciting pictures of firefighters bending over a car engine.
2. Word typed: heiei
Google asks did I mean “heie”? “Yes”
A minimal profile page for user (?) Poul Heie on a Stockholm newspaper website.
3. Word typed: afiett
Google asks did I mean “afit”? “Yes”
A Jakarta steakhouse website with a chef named Afit. The page discusses an anonymous matron “J” who can eat 12 pieces of pork ribs or 400 grams of rib eye in one sitting. (Not the most appetizing site for a vegan to be on!)
4. Word typed: ahtte
Google asks did I mean “hatte”? “Yes”
A German video about Gwenyth Paltrow’s love life. “Paltrow hatte Fehlgeburt” It only had 13 views, including mine.
5. Word typed: ehfiljs (this brought SEVEN webpages in total!)
Google asks did I mean “ehfilms”? “Yes” (better at 8,760 total results)
Numerous live music videos uploaded by Eh Films. There’s a German band looking for a drummer, a travel video with some poorly edited “industrial” music, a “fingerboarding” video (two fingers “skate” on a mini skateboard doing “tricks” and picking up various toys), etc. Among the pretty women ads on this sight, there is a strange one of a pole dancing cow called “Funny Cow at the Black sea resort in Crimea”. I did not click on it.
Curious about Eh? Films, I went to their website (circa 2006?) where the home page reads, “Where reality ends and confusion begins.” And confusion there was! The site is minimalist animations with a curious focus on “dress up” games, where you choose a girl and dress her up in a variety of clothing and accessories. Also interesting was the fact that all the comments about how great it was were apparently from men. There’s a parody of the “Sixth Sense” film, a cute “people are full of shit” animation, and a link to Eh? Film’s Cafe Press where you can buy hoodies and thongs with the Eh? Film’s logo! Definitely the most interesting Internet Dada result of the bunch…
Have fun with Internet Dada! Find obscure and strange websites! Do one and post the results below!
Like most blogs, This Analog Earth! is made up of research and wise knowledge gathered over the years. Here is a list of resources I got information and images from: