Posts Tagged ‘r-u-ins’

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

R-U-IN?S Catalogue #0001 is a zine and .pdf by Iain Ball, Sebastian Moyano, Matteo Giordano, and Kari Altmann, who initiated the project.

It consists of 95 pages of collaged photographic media depicting digital technophilia such as product shots of Sony flat screen televisions, computer-generated pornography, and portable memory storage devices, as well as crumbling geological formations in barren landscapes such as canyons, deserts, and beaches. In many of the images, these themes are combined as in, for instance, the product shot of a flat screen television displaying imagery of the Grand Canyon.

At first glance, this confrontation of the ancient and natural with the contemporary and electronic may seem arbitrary, but as one moves through the imagery, a provocative logic emerges.

The title of the piece gives one a clue as to where to go from here.


It reads as both “Are you in(s)?” and “ruins.”

“Are you in?” mutated into the text message lingo of “R U IN?” brings to mind social status, cliques, peer pressure, coolness, fashions, and the latest technological gadgetry. R U in or R U out? It also reads as something aggressively temporary – something one knows will quickly lose its luster, but for the moment, is the only place to be.

“Ruins,” on the other hand, are the crumbled remains of what was once “in.”

Taken together, there is a fluid exchange between “R U In?” and “ruin.”

That is to say that the newest technologies are monuments to themselves before they are created. No one really believes that a piece of technology will last beyond a couple of years at most.

When one pages (or scrolls) through the Catalogue, one, then, sees less of a clear delineation between “new technology” and “old rocks” and more a continuous stream of dead surfaces: ruins.

In the text which appears on the final two pages of the Catalogue, the artists explain their intentions in similar terms.

They write:

R-U-IN?S is a project initiated by Kari Altmann using an archaeological approach (online and offline) to search the deteriorating surfaces, objects, and codes in the contemporary world. Topics of interest were addressed as ruined places and times in the database, from which artifacts and recordings were taken.


Shortly later in the text, the artists make the point that because this “archaeological” investigation into the database is conducted in the very database it mines, “it became a study in and of itself.”

This suggests that, not only are all of the images and actions depicted in the pages ruins, but that the software and hardware one uses to view the images are always already ruins as well.