Cloaque is a unique Tumblr/gallery bringing together the work of various net artists in an overlapping milieu of images. Unlike many online galleries featuring distinct works, each post on Cloaque is tailored specifically to the site and interwoven with the work of the previous featured artists.
The staring faces of Daniel Littlewood's Self Portrait 2.0 greeted me on my August 26 visit, like the selfies of an eyeless digital mannequin, facial expressions, disgust, shock, amusement, just visible under their mottled, chrome or transparent skin. Near the bottom of Self Portrait 2.0 the faces crowd together, their copy and paste identity evident on each individual face. The heads of shiny porcelain-looking dogs take over as we transition to Lorna Mills' The Axis of Something Else.
Mills' section is a junk drawer of tchotchkes, ceramic figures of every kind of dog, howling wolves, creeping jaguars, birds, elephants, monkeys, rabbits, whales and shapes indistinguishable. The color, texture and loose puzzle of it all sneaks the manic lure of collecting, maybe even hoarding, in between the crowded objects. But Mills seems to be collecting something other than these earthenware snouts. Perhaps her interest lies in the harsh, multifaceted highlights that curve over their lacquered bodies, where the white studio light is refracted into rainbows.
Lorna Mills, The Axis of Something Else, Cloaque
Keep scrolling and The Axis of Something Else fades into Mutated Chains by Andreas Ervik, an airy warping still life of flower petals and spilled paint. Scroll further down into the glitchy pixelation of Jaakko Pallasvuo's Diamonds. Somewhere deeper in the heap Surface Survey by Clement Valla scatters the photographic equivalent of pottery shards over the surface of the page, broken up sculptures of long ago civilizations from India to the Americas. The blank eyes of ancient Buddhas now distinctly recalling the figures in Self Portrait 2.0.
Clement Valla, Surface Survey, Cloaque
And that is what makes this project special. It's not just a waterfall of disparate images, but a huge interwoven whole. As the site's description reads "Cloaque works like a digital landfill. It is the result of the collection, treatment and joining together of a series of images found online to create a column of digital compost." Digital landfill it may be, but the site has a more intimate relationship to the scroll bar than just some data dump. Because the page is full of high resolution images, moving gifs, and even embedded videos, the scrolling starts smooth but soon resists your urge to speed through section after section. Instead, with every attempt to scroll, the page jolts upward as the browser attempts to keep track of and render the long stream of images. But even with the jerky advances, much like scrolling down through your bottomless Twitter feed, Cloaque feels endless, artists' sections slowly bleeding into one another as more layers are added to the pile. The cycle continues.
Visit Claoque online at cloague.org.