The Horror of Fun
If you've seen stickers and T-shirts sporting a menacing white alien head, then you've been exposed to Schwa, a project launched by artist Bill Barker nearly a decade ago. Composed of a series of picture books, bumper stickers, and inscrutable trinkets, Schwa employs an invaders-from-space motif to instill a feeling of ominous isolation and psychological totalitarinism. Barker's latest twist on the project, a Web site called the Schwatown Midway is his most effective piece yet.
Part of the fun of any carnival is its creepiness. At any time, you expect an insane clown to jump out and knock you across the forehead with an oversized hammer. Here, on the Schawtown midway, you're placed at the beginning of a narrow walkway flanked with games and attractions, rendered in stark 3D. The looped sample of spooky calliope music adds to the feeling of a solipsistic nightmare. Like in a real carnival, most of the games here seem simple on the surface but are maddeningly difficult to win. The "junk puzzle" -- in which you try to slide a few rusty nuts and sections of re-bar to maneuver a ball bearing from one side to the other -- kept me up well past my bedtime. After I'd become burned out from getting suckered at the game booths, I sneaked into various mazelike buildings on the midway and got myself into trouble by operating mysterious pieces of equipment.
Even though I never figured out what was really going on in the midway, it's the first Web site I've come across that transported me into another world. The fact that my questions about the place were never really answered is a deliberate element of the piece. Schwa doesn't explain how the world works; it creates a complex unshakable mood, one that has kept me coming back to the world of Schwa, year-after-year.
Today a future without schools. Instead of gathering students into a room and teaching them, everybody learns on their own time, on tablets and guided by artificial intelligence. Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon | RedditIn this episode we talk to a computer scientist who developed an artificially […]
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is “stuck” in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don’t need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, […]
Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
Learning is a 24/7/365 proposition, and it never ends. And if you’re truly serious about leveling up your skill sets and career prospects, get a subscription to Stone River Academy’s massive course collection. This offer normally is worth over $1,400, but is now available for just $89 in the Boing Boing Store.A respected name in information technology […]
Home audio has taken some big leaps forward in recent years–not just in terms of sound quality, but also in the style department. The FRESHeBAR Leather Soundbar, now 56% off in the Boing Boing Store, is proof.The FRESHeBAR comes packing almost all the options you’d ever need for a home sound system, including Bluetooth streaming capabilities.The unit’s 90 […]
Much of what goes into creating an amazing photo happens in the digital darkroom. Here’s your chance to master all things photo editing: the Ultimate Adobe Photo Editing Bundle, now available in the Boing Boing Store for just $29.99.Across 8 courses and over 41 hours of intensive instruction, you’ll learn the fundamentals of Adobe’s suite of photo […]