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R-U-IN?S.org is a project initiated by Kari Altmann using an archaeological approach (online and offline) to search the deteriorating surfaces, objects, systems, and codes in the current times; the ruins that we live among geographically and virtually. A continually morphing list of topics of interest like globalism, branding language, fetish, and y2k are addressed as search queries in various image databases and leftover architectures, from which artifacts and recordings are taken. While staying true to the gaze of the database, the presentations of these "findings" also translate them into new languages. The image arrays suggest a different kind of internal infrastructure, one that is meant for a small and specific tag group.
The primary research activity of the project happens on r-u-ins.tumblr.com between a growing group of about 20 participants across the globe. Originally put up as a beacon, the Tumblr account has attracted similar-minded artists and internet users who can "report" on the types of ruins that surround them both in location and interest. In the wake of constantly consumed and discarded images, equipment, world views, and theories, the participants in the project sift through the objectified strata of ewaste for material of value, to performatively share it through this research network on a daily basis. This value is user-defined and performed through the framing and posting of specific image objects in groups. It is from these continuous postings that new frameworks and codes emerge, ones that trace products and images through paths of desire, exportation, and propagation. Critical memes are created and abandoned, as new directory architectures sprout up, then disappear overnight, to be revisited later. The gaze of the database is below eye level, and the subterranean exchange routes between the participants remain in tact, working their way through a geography of underground economies of content. The topics and materials are continually sinking into the earth, the bodies of the participants, the immediate past, and the oblivion of larger image networks (reblogs.) The memetic dialect only accelerates.
R-U-IN?S highlights the intersection between permanence, obsolescence, and the alluring constructions of the real and unreal. It is a testament to its own double meaning as much as it is a challenge; all comers are confronted with the question "Are You In?" as a way of suggesting the intentions and concepts of the project may be more buried than what is available on the surface, which is sure to disintegrate as the architecture and hype holding it together become obsolete. To truly understand the project you must join in and participate over time, but by doing this you are knowingly contributing to the rubble. Existing in many of the same networks and databases that it investigates, the project becomes a study in and of itself.