Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2018Alice J Zhang
When people go online and leave their mark in bytes, how do their traces get preserved, shared, or lost?
In the early 2000’s through about 2012, communities of millennial girl web developers and bloggers flourished on the English-speaking Internet. They would write about their intimate lives, code their website designs from scratch, create portfolios of graphics, and forge friendships with fellow bloggers that lasted through years. Most of these blogs are now gone; only patches remain as screenshots on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
For my senior project, I explored how techniques used in glitch art, normally used for destroying image files for purely aesthetic effects, could also be used to embed texts that could be read by humans inside digital photos. I excavated photos and self-portraits of individual bloggers whose old content has since been erased from their original domains as of 2018. Then, I overrode pieces of each image file with the respective bloggers’ journal entries extracted from https://web.archive.org. The result is a picture irreversibly corroded by the loss of its original data, akin to the state of their bloggers' archived websites. It still functions like any image file in that the picture can be copied, shared, and viewed on another computer. However, unlike a typical image file, it also hides a patchwork of legible English text; one can “dig” into the image’s encoding and uncover nuggets of letters from a past Internet presence--specifically, that of a millennial girl's thoughts on identity, life, and the joys and struggles of coding and managing her own website.
Zhang, Alice Jin, "Excavation Sites: Art-ifacts of the Millenial Girl Web Development and Blogging Community of the 2000's to the Early 2010's" (2019). Scripps Senior Theses. 1238.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.