On Monday night, we went to check out Speedshow, an internet cafe takeover staged by Evan Roth (whose work is at MoMA for “Talk To Me”) and curated by Aram Bartholl (of Dead Drops). It surprised me that traditional style internet cafes still exist and this one at 90 Bowery is a throwback to those from the ’90s and early 2000s, with tons of kids playing first person shooter video games. It’s in the basement of the building down a narrow staircase, lending further mystique in a neighborhood known for its secret underground passageways.
It’s a far cry from the real estate listing for the condos above the internet cafe. Street Easy proclaims that 90 Bowery is a “collection of 11 sun-drenched 1 and 2 bed new condominium apartments. Have dinner on your large common terrace with Empire State views.” Down here in the internet cafe, there is no natural light and sustenance comes from the assorted snacks and drinks for purchase at the front desk.
The content of Evan Roth’s show “When We Were Kings” precisely captures this in-between moment in time, when wi-fi, the laptop and iPads have made the traditional internet cafe virtually obsolete. When We Were Kings is “a reference to an era that began with the wide-spread adoption of the internet. It is a celebration of a time that is seemingly coming to close.” Aram Bartholl calls his work a “crossover of pop culture and open source…Hackers meet rappers!” Evan knew this was the location where he wanted his show after seeing images of Speedshow from last October. Each computer (or set of computers) played a different concept hosted on a unique domain, whether the image history of his own cache over a 24 hour period, flickering compositions of found Interent advertisements in industry standard pixel dimensions (banners, skyscrapers and boxes), the URL https://https://asdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkjhasdflkj.com/ (it works, try it!) and commentary on airplane travel, including “How to Keep Mother Fuckers from Putting Their Seats Back” and an animated gif of x-ray distorted frames from within airport security. Full list of pieces here.