Sunday, May 18, 2008

Greetings from the dead!

After seven years of dormancy the Gallery of the Absurd is back on the Web!

Yep, believe it or not, the first and original Gallery of the Absurd is back in action. I began the Gallery back in February 1996 while I was in graduate school. It started as somewhat of a joke and as a retreat from doctoral coursework. As a graduate teaching assistant at Purdue University, I used to tape weird and off-beat (depending on how you looked at them) advertisements, labels, and pictures of signs up in the office I shared with my friend, Brian Donahue. It was something to lighten the mood for when students would come by to talk with me about their writing. They would be nervous in having to come see their class instructor, would look up on my wall and see strange labels and advertisements, usually laugh, and then feel more at ease when talking with me. So when I first started to create my own Web pages back in the mid-1990s, these images were some of the first that I scanned and put online.

I created a site called "The Gallery of the Absurd," and it featured scans of contemporary labels, advertisements, and pictures of signs that I had been accumulating over the years while a teaching assistant. I refrained from putting up any retro images from decades past, since given our irony-tinged postmodern sensibilities, those were easy targets. I was much more interested in recent advertisements, labels, and signs that weren't strange because of their expiration dates and that never intended to be funny in the first place (I think). Word soon got out about my Gallery, I started to get a lot of hits and just as many hyperlinks, and pretty soon people began sending me images of signs and advertisements that they thought were strange. Before I knew it, the Gallery was growing exponentially and attracting attention from all over the webosphere, earning me innumerable "Best of the Web" kind of awards (which were really a dime a dozen, but attention-getting, nonetheless). However, in 1997 the Gallery of the Absurd won the prestigious Webby Award--and during the very first year of the Webby Award's existence, no less--in the "Weird" category, both the Critic's Choice and the Voter's Voice awards...I even beat out The Onion! Soon after that, and because of all the Web traffic I was generating, I took the Gallery off my Purdue server space and began to "take things public" (which meant I was able to get a couple of sponsors whose non-intrusive advertisements provided a few meager bucks that more or less funded things). In addition to the many "regular" images I featured on the site, there were several specialty pages that got a lot of attention, such as the Scary Clowns page, the I Hate McDonalds page, the Jenny McCarthy, Enough Is Enough page, and especially the Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week page.

The Gallery of the Absurd was online until 2001, at which time I decided to suspend the site since its upkeep was eating away at the time I should have been spending on my relatively new job as a college English professor. Since then, some other zhlub gobbled up my domain name, and an artist/blogger by the name of "14" has used the Gallery's name in her work. But mine is the original, annoying, time-wasting, controversial, amateurish, off-beat, insignificant, Madison Avenue-hating, and Webby Award-winning Gallery of the Absurd. Accept no imitations.

In the days to come I will begin posting new images of ads, labels, and signs that I find here and there, and along the way I'll also be posting many of the images I used to have up on the original Gallery Website--oldies but goodies. I might even bring back some of the speciality stuff such as that found on the Scary Clowns and the Annoying J. Crew Model of the Week pages. This will be, in essence, a blog-fueled reincarnation of the old Gallery of the Absurd. Tastes great, less filling.

Let me end these initial remarks with the words I featured on the original Gallery of the Absurd site, something that I called "Derek's Web Page Promise": These little bits of popular culture will make you laugh, they'll make you cry, and maybe, just maybe, you'll learn a little bit about yourself.

And with that, away we go....


lois said...

I started at today's post, and work my way backwards to here. I am now up WAY too late, but feel better for having laughed so much. Thanks!!

PS: Clowns have ALWAYS terrified me. You have confirmed why.

Red said...

In the infamous words of Rodney King," Can't we all just get along?"

And her domain is

I like her artwork.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Your blag is so funny ha ha! "Those who can't do, teach". Nice attitude about "14"'s (aka the Zhlub, what the hell is a Zhlub anyway?) First of all "14 the Zhlub" was able to quit her day job as a result of her blog and make a living as a full-time artist/blogger. Second of all you still have a day job as an English Professor. Third of all you are still doing what you did 15 years ago with your blog: taking picturess of funny signs as well as getting other people to submit pictures of funny signs for you. You are not spending time drawing or painting or being creative or original, you're just grading papers and getting your students & readers to send in pictures of funny signs so you can take credit with cute witty sentences. "14 the Zhlub" deserves her domain name waaay more than you do. When you are able to quit your day job as an English Prof because you can actually make a better living as a blogger then you'll have the right to call someone a Zhlub for gobbling up "your" doman name. Until then grade those papers with pride and sarcasm!

Changing LINKS