Pixelscatalans.cat takes up Alex Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage idea and turns it into a concerted exercise in nationalist propaganda. ‘A promotion of Catalunya’, states their manifesto. They aim to provide international projection for Catalan production and graphics, to push up the search engine ranking of Catalan websites, to ‘make the country’: ‘Fer pais’. Only my second post on BCND, and already the frustration of coming face to face with localist pettiness is raising its head. Will it become too much to bear (again!)?
The original Million Dollar Homepage was set up by Alex Tew, a cash-strapped student about to start his first year at university in Nottingham.
The index page of the site consists of a 1000×1000 pixel grid (one million pixels), on which image-based links were sold for US $1 per pixel, in minimum ten by ten blocks. The purchasers of these pixel blocks provided tiny images to be displayed on them, a URL to which they were linked, and a slogan displayed when hovering the cursor over the link. The aim of the site was to sell all of the pixels in the image, thus generating one million dollars of income for the creator. (Wikipedia)
The result: a young millionnaire who had to drop out of uni to keep on top of the site’s success. Most importantly, though, Tew’s open-ended agenda created something really special, a graphic, interactive snapshot of internet history – now on sale as a limited edition print.
Tew’s million pixel grid is vibrant, brash and loud, immensely varied in tone and content. In it one can find skater gear and online gambling, language lessons, business reviews, personal messages, high street retailers and domain hosting, dodgy job offers, e-publications and baby gifts, quick miracle diets and Jesus. It’s a perfect representation of cyberspace. While mostly Anglo-based, clickthroughs will land you in France, Italy or Hungary.
And what about pixelscatalans? All I can hope is that it’s not a perfect representation of Catalunya. What it shows is a fairly desolate landscape, still pretty empty three years after it went online. The pixels are mostly of corporate and institutional brands, some local, some global. At the very least, the pixel-sellers at Catalanpixels could have stood by their catalanist principles and denied access to international corporations.
What it is a perfect representation of, unfortunately, is the dead weight of identity politics on all fields of endeavour in Catalunya, the idea that we have more than enough with what we have ‘at home’ to create a vibrant cultural landscape, that the aim is not to open up to external influences but to preserve and project what we are (and what is that??) to the world.
Personally, I couldn’t care less what the world thinks as long as what is going on near me is entertaining and stimulating enough. If it is, the world will take notice. And being lazy by nature, I’d rather have the world come here so we can party.