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Pachinko6 gained a certain notoriety among web design circles for publishing daily e-mail ‘viruses.’ It was hard to find him, but he finally responded. ROSECRANS BALDWIN dished with him.

The following interview represents a series of emails between Pachinko6 and TMN. Pachinko6 gained a certain notoriety among web design circles for publishing daily email ‘viruses.’ It was hard to find him, but he finally responded.

TMN: Dear Pachinko6,

P6: Dear RB,

TMN: We started receiving your emails a couple of months ago and were blown away, not to mention a bit confused. What was your idea behind the emails?

P6: i was thinking a lot about expanding the definition of design on the internet in the same way that artists are constantly redefining the boundaries of art.

i started thinking about the computer virus, its creators, and their motivation. here’s this movement of people who devote their lives to creating a medium for communicating their message—and what is their message? viruses definitely fall into my definition of art (which primarily focuses on the creator’s motivations for creating it) and i wanted to see how i could adapt this vehicle for my purposes. i like the evil of the virus, the ugliness of spam, and the way it subverts the purpose of the internet for its own sinister ends.

at the same time i was thinking about this stuff, i was getting really blown away by trueistrue—i mean, here is the ultimate example of subverting web design, instead of being two clicks away, you have to sit there an hour to see it! i wanted to push out like this and the email attachment, sent from someone the receiver doesn’t know, seemed like the perfect vehicle for my works. it’s punk, dangerous, and strangely more intimate than throwing up yet another pointless design website.

TMN: But people who make viruses are intending harm on their recipients? Was this in your mind also?

P6: yes. the sex pistols spat on their audience.

a lot of people write and tell me how exhilarating it was to think for a second that they had actually downloaded a virus. that moment is what it’s all about! it’s the closest the internet can get to physical confrontation.

TMN: For people who haven’t received your email art (is that what you’d like us to call it?!), can you briefly described what you’ve been doing? Can we call it spam?

P6: i use unsolicited emails to broadcast a daily gif that may or may not contain subliminal suggestions for the recipient to perform virus-like activity on their own computer.

TMN: Okay, but how would you describe it? Design? Art? Illustration? Terrorism?

P6: i’m really trying to get to all of them. i want to do video, fashion, music, everything.

TMN: Right, but how do you describe it to someone, your ‘art?’

P6: um… probably not with quotation marks around it!

my friends and i are constantly at ends with each other trying to define where the line between art and design lies. my project (though i don’t refer to it as a ‘piece’) safely falls on the art side of the border. its certainly design-y (a swear word in some circles) but its not design.

TMN: For you, what is the difference between design and art?

P6: its all about the motivation. if you’re doing it to express something _inside_ of you, its art. if its expressing something _outside_ of you, its design. you can use the language of art to design and vice versa, but its all about the ‘why.’

TMN: Is there such a thing as ‘web art?’

P6: of course there is. if someone says it's web art, then it's web art.

TMN: What are some of your inspirations?

P6: today i’m into conceptual architecture, dutch books and magazines, fashion that looks like graphic design, japanese cd design, german photography, art that doesn’t look like art, adidas, afro pop

TMN: Are there people in other mediums that are working from similar inspiration?

P6: yes, definitely. artists have always questioned their medium, musicians are constantly pushing the boundaries, and i love architects who design buildings that can’t be built.

TMN: Do you feel comraderie with other artists?

P6: no. but that’s usually because i’m telling them that i’m a conceptual artist and everything else is obsolete!

TMN: How has the reception been so for to your project?

P6: overwhelmingly positive. i usually get a couple people who think i’m the devil, but most people love it. i know i would love to get somebody’s stuff in the mail every morning…

TMN: Is there truth to the rumor that PRAYSTATION is collecting your work?

P6: [no response]

TMN: What limitations do you work with? How do you approach these?

P6: i keep all my gifs under 50k and 473 by 473 pixels. i’m not quite sure why, but i’ve got to have my standards somewhere.

TMN: Did you follow any certain impulse in the evolution? Was there a theme behind it all? A message? A pattern?

P6: yes, i wanted everything i do with this project to say something. i’m not trying to be political, i’m not trying to move mountains, but i don’t want it to be just design for design’s sake. i’m trying to communicate something, whether it be that i think viruses are beautiful or just a story from my life.

TMN: Each week seemed to have a different theme…What caused the changes between series?

P6: i have to admit to a bit of narcissism in the project. i like the idea that a thousand people (including all of my design heroes) are waiting for something every morning and it better be good. i am out to prove that i can come up with something completely different every week for the rest of my life!

TMN: We, at TMN, really enjoyed the pieces each morning…they were something to look forward to. Are you looking forward to more pieces? Is there a different side of Pachinko6 that we haven’t seen yet?

P6: i’m always trying to redefine the project each week and right now i’m experimenting with incorporating new mediums. flash and video seem obvious, but i have some pretty out there ideas coming up soon.

TMN: For the children, what are you like outside our monitors?

P6: i’m a designer for a big, corporate web design company. i live in new york, but i have also lived in los angeles, osaka, minneapolis, and milwaukee.

TMN: Can people still sign-up for the project? If so, how? Thanks for everything

P6: Yes. Just email me.

TMN: Yours, RB

P6: Thanks, Pachinko6

View the Pachinko6 Image Gallery.


Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin