This Is Your Browser. This is your Browser on ):mpun<

At first the web site www.jimpunk.com is not much to look at. A default-grey background with a rather unexciting table of contents is pretty much it, punctuated only by the simple jimpunk logo, a white-on-black line drawing of a guy with a little body and a big blocky head. You might notice some slowly lengthening dotted lines making their way across the screen. Perhaps the boringness is meant to lull you into a sense of security, but don’t be fooled. What you are about to see may make you think that you have just done something very, very wrong to your computer.

Jimpunk uses html, javascript, Flash, ASCII imagery and animated gifs to create a web version of a rollercoaster ride: scary and fun and at the end you wanna go again. Or perhaps it’s the healthy alternative to a good acid trip. At first, you’re asking yourself, “Is this supposed to be happening?” But after you get over the initial shock, you start to get into it.

Fake4silence is a good starter piece, giving you a strong dose of classic jimpunk without overwhelming you. It starts with a big, white index page. You wait a second, wondering if you should maybe click on something when, suddenly, blank browser windows appear and start zooming across your screen. Some shake, some wiggle. Scroll bars scroll. There is no soundtrack, save the constant hum of your computer, yet the hyperactive browser windows dance to a rhythm you can almost hear. More and more blank browser windows keep opening, one on top of another. It’s as though you are watching a sped-up version of all the web pages you’ve ever visited, only the information has been drained out of them. “This can’t be good for my RAM,” you think, as six more little browser windows pop out of nowhere and line themselves up nicely.

Don’t be afraid, it shouldn’t do any permanent damage.

Now you’ve graduated to Kasselpunk. Here the artist has coded in a random functionality that ensures that you never experience the same trip twice. You might first see the word “µLtr(onfidentiaL” next to a blocky, black-and-white moving image that is so abstracted that it takes a moment to realize that you are looking at a sexy girl. Or perhaps you’ll see a big ol’ ASCII superman, or that damn e-mail from the widow of the assassinated president of wherever. Whichever it is, it won’t be for long. Almost immediately the picture is replaced by another. A tension-inducing drip sound (jimpunk water torture?) plays throughout. You find yourself actually watching, like it’s television, and indeed, there is the word itself, “television,” popping up throughout this piece and many of his projects. But something about this is better than the tube. For one thing, there is no over-emoting actor trying to make you believe his pain; no moron eating worms for your entertainment.

Instead, the artist presents icons of our pop/net culture –superheroes, smileys, video games, soft porn, the cursor, the hand, the button and the browser window– deconstructed, rearranged, multiplied, inverted and played back at breakneck speed. Jimpunk’s art threatens us, the users, by shaking our (already tenuous) confidence in computers. You wonder, “How far can I trust this machine? This software? This web page?” Jimpunk dares you, literally, to “click and crash your computer”. And is dynamic, provocative aesthetic leaves you no choice but to call his bluff.

skawennati Tricia Fragnito

[This article appreared in BlackFlash vol.21.2/2003 page 32]

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