Launched in 1996, the Multi-Cultural Recycler was an early example of both generative net art and art that interfaced with the network (cultural and technical). At the web visitors' command, the Recycler grabs images from live webcams around the world and performs real-time "Cultural Recycling" on them to create new "objects of web art." The project parodies the web's obsession with images and with webcams as tools not only for voyeurism and surveillance, but for exhibitionism and for distribution of celebrity. The Recycler appointed itself the Andy Warhol of the web, performing the obligatory cultural recycling on the web's newfound webcam celebrities - presumably legitimizing them as digital stars. It also had some fun with the faux multi-culturalism of the 1996 web, a time when cultures of the world were uniting themselves through animated gifs, banners, and of course webcams.
After creating recycled images, visitors could choose to exhibit them in the Multi-Cultural Recycler gallery. The gallery functioned as a critique of what was at the time (1996/7) a contentious subject: galleries and museums attempting to exhibit "objectless" net art projects. Once posted in the gallery, a visitor's recycled image could be further recycled by future visitors - thus increasing its celebrity/art object status. But, as virtual art objects, images in the Recycler Gallery receive only limited immortality. After rotating through the Recycler Gallery's six display positions, the artwork's file on the server's disk is overwritten by a younger art object.
The Recycler has received a number of awards and appeared in venues including ISEA, New York Digital Salon, Prix Ars Electronica, Werkleitz Biennale, pARTS Gallery, USA Today, Netscape and Yahoo. It was a Webby Award nominee in 1999, and has been continuing to exhibit up til the present day.