| Preface: Dearest Tinkebell|
08 09 09
ON THE INTERNET, YOU ARE A DOG
Who still remembers that famous cartoon from the early days of the Internet featuring a dog behind a computer screen, telling a fellow dog that "On the Internet, nobody knows you are a dog."
Back in the nineties when the cartoon was popular, we laughed because it so cleverly played with the presumed sense of anonymity, thought to be so characteristic for the Internet: one might as well be a dog and people wouldn't even notice!
Today, we've learned such anonymity really doesn't exist and especially not on the Internet, where all your behaviors are tracked and recorded in countless databases. Still, as with many successful and widespread jokes, there lies a profound truth underneath the pun. Yet it is not related to the unanimity part, it is more existential, the profoundness of the joke lies in simple fact that on the Internet you are a dog.
This is a book about dogs and cats. And the dogs don't like what is being done to the cats. The centerpiece of the controversy, is the hand crafted, home made 'cat bag', created by Tinkebell. This pleasantly unrealistically optimistic girly character, presents herself online with the infinite naive ambition to paint the world pink. Yet, as internet appearances are deceiving, in real life this pinkish girl is an artist, eager to create a debate around our hypocritical consumptive attitude towards animals.
Admitted, she has a point here. I mean, why do we routinely consume meat and leather produced in safely concealed large scale industrial sites - where we are kept ignorant of the living animals used in the process - while at the same time we are horrified by the explicitness of a little do-it-yourself leather production? Are we that stooped? At least Tinkebell is honestly aware of the direct animal suffering behind her highly desirable luxurious object. Now again, who exactly was the cynical person in the room?
Unfortunately such analysis is way too nuanced for the short-attention-span dogs crowding the internet. On average, their reasoning is as simple as it is inconsistent: "Yes, I do wear leather shoes. No, I am not a vegetarian. Yes, the bitch must die!" Just bark and press the 'sent' button. Immediate relief guaranteed!
Over the years Tinkebell received thousands of such 'dog mails', which attracted the interest of artist/designer Coralie Vogelaar. Together they set out in search for the people behind the emails, which - although typically sent unanimously - were often relatively easy to track back the via the email or ip address.
This book bundles the finest selection of their research. The result is both relieving and disturbing. Relieving, because - although Tinkebell pre-cautiously closes the drapes of her apartment every night - changes are minimal that the young woman from Dexter, Missouri USA, who threatens to "skin and make a suitcase from Tinkebell's fat bottom", will book a flight to Amsterdam, take the tram to her house, ring the doorbell and place her teeth in her pink flesh. Disturbing, because the people sending the dog mail are so amazingly normal. They have lives, family, friends, jobs, Facebook accounts, go on holidays and have parties. Apparently, the internet technology lets loose the inner dog in seemingly healthy, right minded people? Or perhaps is it just that the technological medium amplifies some part of our human condition? These are people like you and me. In fact, it could be you!
So, if you are reading this because your 'dog mail' is featured in the book, this is what I have to say: It is nice to meet you. You are part of the very first book that exhibits the people behind dog mails. Perhaps you feel somewhat insecure about being featured in this book. Please don't! It is a relief to learn you are a real person. I understand you better now. Perhaps the romantic dream of the Internet as a global network that connects all people to one and other is still possible. Now that I know where you live, I might drop by at your house some time. We could have a coffee together.
Koert van Mensvoort, March 2009. Dearest Tinkebell. ISBN 978-90-89101-29-7