Shaye St. John was a mysterious cult art celebrity/creation. Her website is a work of insane internet genius with a terrible cacophony of sound and vision. It’s NSFW or anywhere else for that matter. The sound is part of the curation process and really helps make the whole thing real but I couldn’t hack it and had to turn my sound off completely and then felt the need to burn white sage and shower for a couple of hours after the experience.
In other words, I love it.
A DVD was made but the backstory of Shaye St. John is nebulous. Rumor has it that she was a real up-and-comer in Hollywood and suffered a horrible accident that impacted her body and clearly her psyche as well. Some say she isn’t alive at all and is the ghost of a tortured soul and the tragedy of the Los Angeles lifestyle. She has a doll that may represent her friend Kristen re-animated as Kiki.
Shaye calls friends, but are they real? She spends hours on the internet building her myspace and livejournal. Who is she talking to in these videos? Who are we and why are we following her?
The artist behind Shaye St. John is a great unknown which strikes me as a horrible tragedy because Eric Fournier passed away early in 2010. He was young and his death is a loss to contemporary art as well as to his friends and collaborators. The way he edited his short films articulated insanity so well. It was obviously deliberate work coming from a very talented artist. It takes a lot of work to create something that effectively unnerving. When I watch these videos, I’m amazed that I didn’t hear of them sooner and I felt a loss when I discovered that the mind behind it was recently departed.
There’s a lot happening with these videos and there’s also the secondary art-in-action in regards to what is presented as related videos. It’s fascinating to see the taxonomy of user generated videos based off of the viewing trends of users. There’s so much to be studied with You Tube and I understand why our user patterns are monitored so well by the overlords. There’s so much data to be gained on how we seek and organize information. It’s a new way to psychoanalyze ourselves, to let the created intelligence parse out the raw information churned out at a pace too fast for human eyes and give us a functional framework to view our trends and behavior as a herds of individuals.
And what an individual Shaye St. John really was. These videos are unnerving because they articulate a psyche trapped in a run time sequence error, a window prompt asking for the user to click “OK” that will never go away, no matter how many times you click it. Watching the videos is anxiety inducing because it’s unnerving to be trapped in the perspective of a looping error window.
Is that what addiction and anxiety are? Looping run time errors in the networks of our brains? If so, how do you restart a human mind? The differences between a brain and a computer do matter when it comes to addressing human suffering. The human “OK” button has often been a drink, a wank, a roll of the dice, a purchase, a snort, a dare, a skipped meal, another mile, an extra meal, and every single other action any human has ever taken. We invent new “OK” buttons everyday and just like our computers, clicking the “OK” button is usually a part of the average, productive, and effective computing experience.
Chances are, you can’t really get anything done without hitting the “OK” or the “Submit” button. In and of themselves, “OK” buttons are totally awesome.
But those run time sequence errors are motherfuckers. It’s cool that these films were created because they are such a great study in cult art, film editing, the DIY ethos, and a talented artist who was gone too soon.