Features

Sick, Sad Web: Absurd.Org

Words by: Jonathon Davidson


I can’t remember how I first discovered this website but I do remember it being the first truly “weird” website I ever visited, and for that reason alone it has stuck with me for the past nine years.

At some point within the last half-decade, it has sadly gone offline. However, the Internet Wayback Machine took captures of the domain in mid-2008, leaving us with a record of the postmodern paranoid pastiche that is Absurd.orgI should reiterate that I still have got no idea what this site is about, who made it, why it was made, or how it came to go offline – it’s a lot of different things at once, or potentially it is about nothing.

It is an interactive HTML artspace . . .

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. . . it is a Germanic experiment in hyperlinking . . .

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possibly a satire . . .

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. . . it is a short story collection . . .


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and it’s an exploration of the clashing aesthetics between technological paranoia and virtual minimalism.

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Or, it’s nothing.

3Although it is also a play:

So Brecht.

The above collection of images don’t do the site much justice either – the uneasy overtones that permeate your experience while navigating the website are founded in the incoherent rambling that litters each section of the webpage and occasionally flashes up subliminally. The one thing I love most about this site is that you pretty much can’t find anything about it online.

Even while it was up and running, discussion on the internet regarding the webpage was rare at best and at worst isolated to the same dude with different usernames (it happens more than you’d think).

The TVTropes page for the website, which calls it “very strange,” has a total of zero comments in the discussion section. This website asks if Absurd.org is an e-zine, but then totally takes the coward’s way out at the conclusion and says, ‘well, every website is technically a narrative,’ then you get pissed and stop reading.

Many years ago I read something on 4chan about it and somebody said that the website was a student art project regarding vivisection and animal cruelty, although it has only occurred to me now after googling it, years later, that they had simply gotten confused with “www.vivisection-abusrd.org.uk,” an appalling URL which deserves its own feature length article of harsh criticism. Once again, I knew nothing.

Looking at it now, and taking all things into consideration – which is to say this site used to scare the shit out of me, but now seems ridiculously camp –  it is most likely indeed a web design student’s art project. But who? I have a theory – compare this image below, particularly the face on the far right:

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To this video still from  popular online cult animator Cyriak:

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Same designer? It wouldn’t be surprising. Both have the same unmistakable veneer of grotesquity draped over their talents. However it would be equally unsurprising to learn that the two similar styles of digital image manipulation and aesthetic were merely a coincidence between two unrelated artists. I could probably message the guy and ask directly because it’s 2015, but that puts this entire article at risk so I’m going to ignore my own suggestion.

Besides, what if it’s totally H.R. Giger’s niece or something?

If you run a domain search on Absurd.org, you get the address “110 Moraine Drive, Woodbridge,” which is in Canada. That address on Google Maps brings you to this house:

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But because the website is no longer running, I am unsure if this is where the creator of Absurd.Org resides or simply the dude who runs the domain registry lookup service (fun fact: stalking is easy as shit).

This website have made the aforementioned play  ‘Web is Dead’ part of some kind of collection; Absurd.org was elected for a ‘webby’ award all the way back in 1999, and ten years later it became the subject of a youtube video for this dude’s channel. 

And that’s it. There is nothing else about it on the internet.

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If experimental art wankery isn’t your thing, then something not being fully explained on Google must at least raise your eyebrows.

Even if it turns out that it’s just nothing, it’s definitely an impressive relic of HTML art towards the end of the dot com boom. This is what a modern text looks like.

While you have to put on your nerd hat and strap on your geek boots to really get into the saucy discussion behind this, it can’t be denied that Absurd.org does a good job of challenging the traditional idea of a website. It also seems to prelude many of today’s fears and discussions surrounding cloning, biotechnology, artificial intelligence and the assimilation between man and computer.  Is the website more relevant than ever? If it is, we’re truly living in an absurd time.

Oooooh.