From its opening frame of found My Little Pony fan art, Christopher MacInnes’s video for ‘Streaming’ takes us on a hypnotic journey through the backwaters of the net: imageboards like 4chan (United States), 2ch.hk and Dobrochan (Russia), Komica (Taiwan) and Hispachan (Latin America) that have grown increasingly influential on mainstream culture.
His film navigates this new visual language by using a web-scraper and a pixel diver, both of which he developed himself, to clandestinely collect images from these boards and animate them in space. “Streaming,” he says, “is us interfacing with the network body, a direct patch to cooled server racks in darkened data centres, to machine space. In this sense, streaming is a sublime (in the Latin sense of sub, “up to”, liminis, “a threshold”) activity, taking us to the edge of where human space ends and machine space begins. The web-scrapers are performing ‘streaming’ in a similar way, posing as a counterfeit human (you have to write them to appear like genuine, web-browsing humans, or risk getting blocked) in order to enter that threshold space and drift along its surface.”
Having stream-scraped the boards of images, MacInnes used his bespoke pixel diver to explore what he’d found. Over a twinkling piano and synth intro, we go diving through a sea of pixels, a dizzying procession of deconstructed images that accelerates towards the song’s droning crescendo before releasing us into a blissful slow drift.
By fragmenting these images, he explains, he “takes them away from being representational forms and towards an infrastructural form that the viewer must pick their way through. This facilitates an immersion in the deranged pre-consciousness that underpins the infrastructures of contemporary culture.”
In MacInnes’s hands, the collective unconscious of today’s imageboards becomes a dissociative space we can fly through. Kitschy throwaway images are remade as great cosmic flightpaths, and we’re shown just how much depth these flattened pixelated images and warm, euphoric synth tones can conceal.
Christopher MacInnes responds to ‘Streaming’