Trawling the Rotting Husk of Web 2.0 for Proto-Social Media Found Photos

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On his Tumblr blog Internet History, Doug Battenhausen mines the forgotten reaches of the Internet, trawling defunct photo accounts on last-generation photo sharing sites like the (now deleted) Webshots, Flickr, or Photobucket for images that can be funny, silly, poignant or emotional.

Battenhausen started his Tumblr in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the project began to come together in earnest. Found-object art projects are shaped by the edit, and a stroll through the blog’s archive reveals that over the past five years, Battenhausen has gradually developed an eye for compelling banality. Early collections were mostly silly party photos from dorm rooms and backyards, teens and twenty-somethings in various stages of undress. But as the blog has matured, so has Battenhausen’s editing, gravitating towards plucking images that serendipitously capture decisive moments, humorous object personification, or curious juxtaposition.

In an interview with Business Insider, Battenhausen explained, “I try to find pictures that have been abandoned. If you’re still actively using your photosharing website, I don’t want to encroach on that. Through ‘Internet History,’ I think I’m giving a second life to orphans.” Take a peek at a small selection of the work below; head to internethistory.tumblr.com for the whole archive. And pray that those questionable snapshots from the foam party during winter break sophomore year remain anonymous.