“I closed my eyes and listened carefully for the descendants of Sputnik, even now circling the earth, gravity their only tie to the planet. Lonely metal souls in the unimpeded darkness of space, they meet, pass each other, and part, never to meet again. No words passing between them. No promises to keep.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
If you are familiar with me, it’s probably through the lens of what I post on Twitter: Plants, my opinions about tech culture, shitposting about design, more plants, and as of earlier this year, my ongoing quarantine moodboard thread.
Twitter is not a place meant for earnestness, or nuance, or vulnerability. The parts of yourself that you share become compacted by others into “your brand”. This is all completely absurd to me, especially when contrasted against how the internet once embodied the-now-elusive concept of pure escapism.
After much consideration, I feel that it’s time for me to share Hyperspace with you. It’s about me. and the internet. and my life. and art. It’s a memoir and a living document.
It’s about what has happened to the World Wide Web in the 21 years since I first touched HTML and MSPaint during the Summer of 1999. It’s about living life as a digital girl in a material world.
It’s about intimacy, and software. It’s about how corporations have gentrified the internet, and what it felt like to fall in love over IRC. It’s about finding unsecured security cameras in Ukrainian night clubs, and adventures in digital voyeurism. It’s about a culture of hate-reading and hate-fucking. It’s about the girls and the gays and my first Saturn Return. It’s about how one green text bubble can encapsulate techno-classism, and scaling platforms devolve into virtual white-flight.
It’s about coveting and buying material objects for ephemeral content, and how Instagram is a virtual altar to your ego and identity. It’s about Riaz, and Bart and Liz and phpBB forums. It’s about Y2K and Oekaki and LonelyGirl15.
It’s about finally feeling like you belong somewhere, but in a place that doesn’t exist.
“A machine is more blameless, more sinless even than any animal. It has no intentions whatsoever but our own.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven
Hyperspace is a writing project that would take years to fully form and unfold. and in that unfolding, I also became undone.
More than once I have attempted to map out the many threads of my interests and experiences that are tangled together. I would delicately examine each knot, and quickly find myself overwhelmed by the myriad of entanglements – of which are now memetically known as the intersection of art and technology.
When I first started writing Hyperspace back in 2016, I could not have predicted that such an innocuous project would also be the beginning of the end of my life as I knew it.
It’s about what happened in Portland. and London. and New Zealand. and on Neopets. It’s about Keith starting Subeta. It’s about watching sci-fi with my Dad when I was a kid. and how a ghost led me to her sister’s Facebook page. There’s a man named Euripedes who showed up not once, but twice to save me. (and my plants.)
Hyperspace is not just a newsletter where I round up links or write essays as a technologist or a designer. It’s about how much I miss LiveJournal. It’s about the universe violently kicking in each pillar of my life, blow by blow, until the only thing left standing was me. It’s about how the apps we use now are walled gardens, and the amount of cultural artifacts we lost when Tumblr retroactively banned porn.
It’s about the tragedy of private accounts, and why digital communities die after 4 years. It’s about how my body aches with phantom sensations to touch real buttons, and what it was like to be an 11-year-old girl on 4chan.
It’s about moralized bullying, and how there’s no such thing as an unedited photograph. and how I have no memory of 3 months when I lived in San Francisco. It’s about the golden days I spent in the darkroom in art school, and how Silicon Valley will never understand that people are not products. and how thanks to the internet, my life is more than I ever dreamed of. and why I want to log off.
This writing project ruined my life, and if you want to know more, well, it’s substack, you know what to do.
“And it came to me then. That we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they're nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we'd be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart