AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME (1990)
Ahhh, pyramid schemes. What incredible bastions of bullshit. Has anyone ever tried to get you in on one? Has anyone ever succeeded? Well, if so, maybe they showed you something like this, an insanely positive 20 minute video that's scored like Home Alone and packed full of business nonsense and manipulative language. Learn the fascinating history of "the formula," about its natural and respectable origins, the "health benefits" of "the product," in-depth knowledge of how distribution is handled by the company and not you, while encouraging you to share with your friends because it's "the right thing to do." It's a health breakthrough, after all! We're not here to spend money advertising, we're here to bring you "the product!" That's why we need you to advertise for us! It's for the health of mankind. This is absolutely An Idea Whose Time Has Come.
"The product" is an ink-like liquid that you take a shot of every day. What does it do? Fuck knows.
THE PRICEMASTER (2001)
If anyone had known what would transpire on Saturday, February 10, 2001, they would have brought a better camera.
It's a chilly midday in Denton, Texas. A lawn is scattered with fold-out tables, each holding piles of old clothes, knickknacks, and tools. Yard sales are common sights, and so are the people lazily browsing their mysterious inventories. Uncommon, however, was the complete lack of price tags on any item. And stranger still was the odd man in a red and gold mask and silver jacket gesticulating uncomfortably on a stage nearby. When someone asks to buy something, the man, the Pricemaster, shouts the cost into his microphone. It's incredibly high, hundreds of thousands of dollars. The shopper leaves. Nothing is sold.
This is the tale of The Pricemaster, a piece of verite documentary chronicling what I can only describe as bizarre, DIY performance art. It's the strangest, most uncomfortable garage sale ever forced upon humanity. It opens with a quote about anti-environments, about artists making a space and experience that conveys their message, so what does the Pricemaster convey? What is the significance of the Pricemaster's control of prices? What does it mean that whatever people offer, Pricemaster always asks for more? Why is it that there's a yard full of things to sell and nothing is ever sold? You know who knows?
REVOLUTION: A DEMONSTRATION OF THE VIDEO TOASTER (1992)
Back in the days before computers were processing beasts, before you could download DaVinci Resolve for free, before your phone was capable of editing, there was Video Toaster. What is Video Toaster? Well, it's a fat ass card that you slot into your computer and a sister program that lets you use the card's power to edit video on your crappy old Amiga computer. Video Toaster included many basics of editing like titles, chroma keys, animation, etc., and allowed a generation of young videoheads to make their own movies and shows at a time where it otherwise may have been impossible. Nowadays, this video is more interesting as a time capsule, a look back into the early 90s when tech was punk and punk was lame (jk). You'll be amazed by the Video Toaster's shitty 3D animation, its text generation effects, and all the random things they can edit Kiki Stockhammer into. As someone with an interest in making videos watching this is a little bit of a delight. I can only imagine the kid in 1990 opening this up on Christmas and immediately being overwhelmed with possibility. Damn, have fun kid. It only gets crazier from here.
ROCK'S WINNING WORKOUT WITHOUT WEIGHTS (1990)
Exercise is important, types the guy who doesn't exercise. It's important for your health. It keeps you energized, keeps you fit, keeps you feelin' good. But it can be expensive to go to a gym all the time! Well, thanks to Rock, a few of his Cali surfer friends, and an old man they're all friends with, now you can work out without any weight equipment at all (except for the ones they do where you need equipment). Throughout the 15 minute workout advice tape, a somber piano melody plays in the background that makes me wonder if these guys were all hit by a truck 3 minutes after they finished recording. And if exercise isn't your thing, don't worry! Dorral Silverthorn, the aforementioned weird old man they hang out with, stops the video for a few minutes to talk about spiritual fitness, the sin of drunkenness, and how the American government is hypocritical for ending alcohol prohibition. Remember: Don't drink and you too can hang out with Cali surfer dudes that are 50-60 years younger than you. Unless you're into that, then imagine it's some other weird situation. The motto of the video? "We did our best; if we'd been prepared, we could've done better!" -Dorral Silverthorn, 83.
TIME CUBE PART 1: BUCKET OF GEMS (2005)
Time Cube was an early internet phenomenon with a backstory that ranged from hilarious, to sad, to tragic. At its core is a man named Gene Ray who believes himself to be a godlike being, and the only one on Earth who understands the truth of our world. That truth is: each day is made up of four days happening all at once (the four horizonal faces of the Time Cube), and all modern fields of science are lying about it to conceal the cube-esque reality of our planet. Time Cube is at once both fascinating and profoundly depressing. It's fascinating trying to understand the logic that brought Gene Ray to his conclusions, and trying to understand the messages he wants to convey; it's also depressing remembering that this is a tape of a man diagnosed with schizoprenia, who isn't receiving treatment, convincing his wife to help him make a video explaining his delusions. With writings like "CREATION HAS TWO SEX POLES & 4 CORNER RACES OF HUMANS. GOD IS CORNERED AS A QUEER." it's easy to understand how people latched on to Time Cube as an oddity in the early internet, where a lack of corporate-friendly search engine optimization meant finding otherwise obscure website was much easier, and much more accessible. Unfortunately the story of Time Cube continues into territory familiar to the modern internet user: vulnerable people meeting vulnerable people, forming unhealthy relationships and beliefs, and following it through to a tragic end. I'll leave that research up to you if you'd like. But to this day, Time Cube is remembered as one of the earliest internet "conspiracies" that captivated its online audience and made an unwitting celebrity of someone who probably needed help more than anything.