JOE ALTERIO
PROJECT
There's No One There
DESIGN NOTES
My colleague Scott Geiger approached me about a chapbook imprint for Tinhouse he was running, and the project quickly spiraled, from a set of illustrations, to a set of screen-printed posters, to shows at Columbia, Telfair, and LACMA. This project started as a bad dream, morphed to a skateboard, and ended up as a series of silkscreened-posters.

At its core, the project was about the sense of impending loneliiness I felt around playing video games. When I was 12, a formative game called Scarab of Ra showed me both the potential of immersive narrative, and the deep nilihism natural to the digital space.

Solo digital environments are all facades, the gesture of community that barely hides the fact of the lonely echo, the truth of emptiness barely contained by the fake digital citizens that are attempts to keep the crushing anxiety at bay. Trapped in their narrative loops, we can convince ourselves, for a very small while, that this is real life.

At this moment in my life, I felt deeply the impending loneliness epidemic that was about to crash upon our digital shores, an epidemic Japanese culture had already felt: a generation of people who spent their formative social years being social with beings who didn't exist. This impulse, combined with the global economic meltdown of 2009, gave me the fear of things to come: a civilization, drummed out of the real world due to economics, welcomed into the fake netherstate by technology.
I ended up creating five silkscreened posters, with the help of Greg Nanny at Drive-By Press. I had experimented with several different formalist techniques, but the hand-pulled poster carries with it a sense of both real human emotion and also a pathos: my work in this project was fundanmentally about a sense of decay and loss, and I liked how the formal aspects of the work carried the message.

The first show we had, hosted by Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley at Columbia's Studio-X, as a rammed affair filled with art, music, poetry, visual effects, andm a beautiful melange of the NYC art and public space world.
Then, something crazy happened: the work took off, first getting mentioned by Douglas Rushkoff and Douglas Coupland, it quickly captured the internet for a few days, and I got invited to the Telfair Museum's and Seoul Modern art museum's permanent collections, and I got a few more shows out of the work, again.
You can learn more about the originating project here. There are no more prints available for sale, unfortunately.
All work copyright Joe Alterio © 2020 unless otherwise noted.