CAPTCHA-related humor began with the widespread use of CAPTCHA (and more recently reCAPTCHA) on popular blogging and forum sites. The technology is intended to stop spam by asking the user to verify a pair of distorted words, thereby proving they are not a bot. In the case of reCAPTCHA these words are pulled somewhat randomly from an archive of textual documents requiring digitization, and that random pairing of words often produces strange and comical combinations.
Tanner America is critical satire in the form of a Tumblr blog. The site is updated several times a week with "snapshot" style images and brief accompanying captions. Each image depicts a moment from the daily lives of the Tanner family of Colorado Springs, CO: the kids' science projects, camping trips, remodeling the house, purchases from Home Depot, and their neighbor Linda. The images are purposefully mundane and would be of little interest to anyone outside the Tanner's immediate family and friends.
What makes the images satire is the fact that they are clearly, intentionally fabricated. Each image has been noticeably photoshopped in such a way that it becomes an implicit critique. In many ways they resemble JOGGING-style sculptures or performance, as the strange juxtaposition of objects announces itself as fabricated and implies some form of intentionality, some form of critique.
The clearest commentary would seem to be a general critique of white, middle class, heterosexual Middle America. The Tanner's lives are dull, they have too many kids, they are uncritical and indulge in consumerist behavior, they watch Fox News, their Facebook page lists their political views as "Tea Party", etc. In a way Tanner America is poking fun at the suburbs, at the concept of "normal, everyday Americans," and in doing so reinforcing the kind of snide elitism that the Tanners would no doubt accuse "us" of, if they were real.
At the same time there is another critique, not of the values and lives of people like the Tanners, but the way they use the Internet and what it means to them. Taking a look at the default Tumblr theme the Tanners "chose" to use it seems grossly mismatched with the style and tone of the images and captions they post. It looks like a ...
JULY 24 - SEPTEMBER 4, 2010
In this project Ciocci and Crouse have redesigned Light and Wire Gallery’s characteristic website so that every time you visit a new page, a different layout or WordPress Theme is loaded behind the gallery’s usual content. Crouse's code randomly loads 1 of 20 different Themes, while Ciocci has visually modified each one. Fundamentally, the WordPress theme system is a way to “skin” one’s website. Not only does this determine the look of the site but the WordPress themes can provide control over the presentation of the material on a website. As one clicks through each theme, this generic design platform that largely informs the aesthetics of the web is revealed for its amateur quality.
Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) Technical Coordinator