Subculture >>
Antonio Mendoza

An audio/visual assault on the interface and YOU.

||| HIAFF 3.0 | university of colorado | department of art and art history | digital arts area | in conjunction with alt-x | atlas | blurr
Raechel Davidson: Describe subculture.com in 1-2 sentences.

Antonio Mendoza: www.subculture.com is like a cannibal island on the net. it has no structure or menus, but when you reach certain spots it will bite you. basically, it's a series of linked pages created with images, sounds and scripts that have all been pirated from other web sites. the site works like a meta-collage in which the linkage between pages is an active element of the collage logic.

RD: How did you begin working in digital media?

AM: I started working digitally in 1992 when I bought a computer and five days later I broke my Achilles tendon. I went from not knowing how to turn on the machine, to spending six weeks sitting in front of it and learnt several programs and some programming. I also made a bunch of collages that later that year I started showing. about then I met someone who asked me if I wanted to put my work online. At the time I knew nothing about the net, but when i went to his house and I saw my work slowly being transmitted through the phone line to a gray page on his Mosaic browser, I was hooked.

RD: What was your mission/agenda in the creation and design of subculture, and how does it relate to the idea of the standardized interface?

AM: When I started making subculture I wanted to make a web site using only elements I found on the web. I wanted the site to be alternatively discouraging and enticing, organized and chaotic, beautiful and ugly. as a site it's loud and dynamic, hard to navigate, and as subtle as a ton of bricks. ideally I would like a person to land in subculture, go through 10 or 15 pages, then leave. hopefully they wouldn't be too sure if what you saw the web pages doing was intentional or accidental. then, if they ever returned, they would surf a different set of pages that would produce a completely different experience. I like to make my pages behave in ways they shouldn't be behaving. they're like autistic web pages, full of information but stuck in annoyingly repetitive patterns. I also like to add a bunch of error messages and broken icons in case things don't go the way I intended, I can pretend I meant it to be that way.

RD: What specific role does the Internet occupy among your variety of creative > outlets (collage, writing, design, etc.)?

AM: for the past three years i've been doing paintings of computer icons and web pages. also I've written a book on serial killers on the loose for which I was contracted through a serial killer hit list I posted on my web site mayhem.net. so I would have to say the internet is central to my creative output. every day I either tinker with or post new pages on my sites mayhem and subculture. A lot of this work i later turn into collages or movies. lately I've been doing lenticular collages that come directly from flash animations. I love the internet, especially now after the dot com crash. at the height of the dot drudgery a lot of web sites were looking exactly the same, like some marketing guy's concept of cool and edgy, and everyone was behaving as if they had single-handedly discovered the wheel. but now that all these sites are dot gone, we can get back to what the web is really about -- teenage fan sites and fucked-up interface hacks.

RD: Your visual work is loaded with sexual, religious, and political iconography, yet its intention isn't overtly apparent. Most images come across as highly visually stimulating, but also incredibly strange. To what extent does your audience shape the statement of your vision?

AM: if you can't make art about sex, religion and politics, why bother? My work is retinal as well as aural. there is nothing subtle about my pages, but there is no overt meaning. it's more like layers of meaning that you can put together and come up with your own interpretation. I like to recycle iconography that is loaded with signifiers -- like japanese pornography, corporate logos and fake virus warnings -- and combine them with something totally unrelated. it's like the old "chance meeting between an umbrella and a sewing machine on a dissecting table" that the surrealist were so fond of quoting. I enjoy a lot of net art, but often it becomes too cerebral and hard to follow. some people will do something brilliant but boring to look at. I rather do something stupid but fun to look at. when it comes to my audience i rather please the stoner 15- year- old than the post-Marxist theorist.