Our instinct has driven us from the cramped confines of cave walls to the creation of alphabets, the printed page, and our dearly beloved Internet. We can now transmit, at the speed of light, any information to anyone else with access to a live wire or bar of service. As a matter of necessity, we have developed rich new symbologies—the first of their kind—for conversing en masse with these billions of people
Intaes is INTernet AESthetics. Intaes is “shitty net art.” Intaes is a cat riding a turtle riding a Roomba. It encompasses most things created or curated by online personas, and its symbolic ingredients are often divorced from their original contexts. I first created image compositions in this genre while studying Google Image Search’s semiotic structure, discovering many images which I felt inclined to save and later to mash into cohesion. Google is interesting largely because it is a mirror for mainstream culture and values; all cultures have dos and don’ts, and they are all reflected in Google. But a problem arises when a tangible thing like a plant or animal is presented in the same way as an intangible cultural concept. A Google Image search for “dragon-fruit” yields enough information in five seconds of scrolling to learn its size, price, growing conditions, and preparation methods. These data are all laid bare, matter-of-factly, in a table of text and images. A search for “beauty,” on the other hand, will yield the same quantity of information, but brimming with cultural bias. When fact and opinion are displayed in the same format, in the same context, on a trusted platform with a global audience, what must happen? How must this color our new language?
The Internet is fertile ground for new cultures, and these always come with a new set of symbols, with a new aesthetic. And so everyone online is endlessly coming to terms with new symbolic or aesthetic frameworks. This can be as simple as observing that Facebook wears a t-shirt while Linkedin sports a tie. But what does Google wear? People consult Google with personal questions because they trust Google to have the right answer: “If it’s not on Google, it doesn’t exist.” The space for our new language, our new strings of symbols, is now as boundless as Google’s open ocean of ideas. Never before has the human library of text and image been so vast. The words for ‘mountain’ in English and Arabic look and sound little alike, while a Google Image query immediately communicates the same subject to anyone with sight. Intaes is now wrangling this power to pipe ideas at tremendous pressure through billions of networked brains. Shitty net art is supplanting those shitty paintings in that cave in Lascaux.