Bg_img is a series of monthly PDF publications focussing on the images that form the backgrounds and fill the body tags of websites the world over. Once a staple of the web vernacular and the rhythm section of dirtstyle; the onset and proliferation of Search Engine Optimisation, Content Management Systems, page load times, a growing modernist aesthetic and the professional blogosphere has meant that the background image, when present, is an increasingly subtle and rarefied thing. Far from being a nostalgic endeavour however, Bg_img is an attempt to catalogue and celebrate an aesthetic developed independently from received wisdom of page design and order it into a vocabulary that underpins and defines the grammar of internet ornament.
The background image has been fundamental to the development of a style that is unique to the internet. It is a style of gradients, textures and tiled patterns that sit beneath, assimilate and fight for attention with the text, images and other content layered on top; a style developed by digital amateurs restricted by bandwidth and html skills and accelerated by an attention grabbing sense of the mystic and absurd. Over time its use may have become more refined in order to create the impression of an ever more smooth and precious surface, but ultimately, the purpose of the background image remains as it always was – to decorate and embellish a webpage. They are now and always have been a functionless surface modulation, an ornament.
Bg_img presents these ornaments of the internet in all their monolithic glory. Separated from the nuisance of content, they stand proud and naked before you.
Required Reading: One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age: Digging through the Geocities Torrent by Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied
A new blog by artists Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied, One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age: Digging through the Geocities Torrent is an inventory of one terabyte of pages from the now defunct Geocities, proved by the Archive Team.
Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) Technical Coordinator