Saturday, June 18, 2011

flash menagerie

Information wants to be free, and when it escapes, the results can be, well... weirdly satisfying.

File sharing software has long been the great emancipator of pirated music and movie files.    Millions have installed titles with names like eDonkey, Kazaa, Napster, Limewire, and Gnutella to gorge themselves on a worldwide buffet of rip'd CDs and DVDs only to unwittingly give the rest of us denizens of the Internet permission to thumb through their own personal collections of music, movie, and picture files. is a repository of photos lifted from the hard drives of thousands of unknowing file sharers around the world.   Images from parties, weddings, portraits, family vacations, and goofs that were clearly unintended for our eyes are there for all the world to see.  Old and young people, lovers and loners, gangbangers and grandparents, all smile, mug, frown, or flip us off as if we ourselves are holding the camera.

There are no silly captions, titles, or commentary of any kind, leaving us refreshingly free to wander around and construct our own imagined context for images that are sometimes sweet, often familiar, and occasionally alarming.

Thumbing through this collection is a voyeuristic walk through strange neighborhoods looking through lighted windows at unsuspecting people who don't know they are being observed.  After some minutes peeking into image after image, we begin to imagine ourselves as the friend, the spouse, the provocateur, the parent, of the people who stare out at us with such familiarity.  

It is a guilty pleasure to engage with unsuspecting strangers this way. We look forward to spending more time with them soon.  Perhaps we'll see you there.

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