Spam 450 million years in the future

PPG showed this to me. From :The New York Times

Gallery Show Seeks the Art in Spam, Seen Through the Eyes of the Future

January 26, 2004

The discordant verse, in simple black letters on white paper, is in keeping with the basement alternative art gallery in which it hangs:
victorious tank tepid conservatism veldt

cerulean carl
frontal decry brennan
It may seem the work of a striving, if cryptic, poet. But it is an excerpt from the nonsense words found in a junk e-mail message, as captured in a Manhattan exhibit that tries to make art out of spam.

The exhibit, titled “Reimagining the Ordovician Gothic: Fossils From the Golden Age of Spam,” is at Spaceworks at the Tank, a gallery and performance space on West 42nd Street devoted to experimental works.

Jesse Jarnow, one of the curators, said the name was inspired by a display he saw at the American Museum of Natural History on the Ordovician period, an era that ended about 445 million years ago, when the earth was dominated by primitive sea creatures.

“They had all these brightly colored snails,” he said. “But they don’t really know what it was really like.”

Riffing on the idea of junk e-mail as a lowly commercial life form, Mr. Jarnow along with the other curators, Daniel Greenfeld and Mike Rosenthal, tried to depict how an archaeologist 450 million years in the future might present current culture, based only on relics of spam. Motifs include the random text typically added to the end of spam to avoid being discarded by spam-finding filter programs, which the exhibit presents as the work of the “great writers of the ‘Ordovician Gothic.’ ”

The accompanying text notes that “this school of writers emphasized playful literary juxtaposition, frequently casting aside the period’s typical syntax in order to achieve a more visceral form.”

Using the sort of displays common in natural history
museums, the exhibit examines other aspects of the world as captured in the amber of spam. Light-up dioramas, for example, show pictures of the actual deposed African leaders who are frequently the purported authors of e-mail proposing deals that typically involve wire transfers of many thousands of dollars. “It is not known whether or not their appeals were received by willing accomplices or not,” the exhibit commentary says. “If they were, most likely, those who responded were simply drawn into the deep unrest from which the requests sprang.”

The spam exhibition will be on display through Feb. 15 at Spaceworks at the Tank, 432 West 42nd Street. It is open Thursdays and Fridays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, noon to 6 p.m., and during performances.

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