A Case Study in Unhindered Creativity

This is a bit of a tribute post for a wonderfully spontaneous community that inadvertently arose from a project known as pimpmysite.com. It was the true epitome of an unhindered creative process that caught a little fire and spread through the inspired hearts and minds of a few eclectic weirdos from across the united states and a handful of countries across the ocean. This article is an accumulation of broken copies of the site, what images I could find, and all sorts of random bits and pieces of the story stitched back together to offer a detailed, but relatively pale resemblance of the spirit of this project I never intended to happen.

It started one day in 2004 while I was watching ‘Pimp My Ride’. A show on MTV featuring the rapper XZIBIT taking peoples old beat up cars and pimpin’ them with killer custom paint jobs, new engines and everything from barbecue grills and fish tanks to flat screen t.v.’s and play-stations. I had an obvious “Aha!” moment and purchased the domain name pimpmysite.com. Experimenting and playing around with the concept in Flash, I created a cheesy “Pimp My Site” contest site…


ARCHIVED 2004 SITE

 

Later that year I decided to perhaps use the domain name for my portfolio site. I was struggling to create something that catered to the potential clients who might be looking at it, while not limiting the creative potential in doing so. I had been brushing up on my skills via numerous experimental projects that would arise out of some creative inspiration only to die off into oblivion to be replaced by some other concept that I would then begin to prototype.


ARCHIVED 2004 SITE

 

I was reaching and experimenting for something special, different, unique. Eventually, in my frustration I just said “Fuck it!” and began designing and animating something from the heart. Something for no reason other than my imagination wanted to explore it. Figuring no one would be visiting to witness it as it evolved, I would post this work in progress through various stages of experimental in-completion. There was fire, a pinup girl, UFO’s, and whatever was fluttering in my brain at the time. One day while browsing the servers control panel, I decided to check out the stats not expecting anything other than my own traffic. Surprisingly the site was getting 3000 unique hits a month. I wondered… Who are these people?, Why are they here? Realizing I had an audience… I felt compelled to entertain them or something. Not knowing what the heck I was actually gonna do with the site… I posted an intro message to my experimental work in progress inviting visitors to watch it unfold. I eluded to some special, secret, something or another that was brewing. Not having any real conceptual direction or anything solid developed yet, this was a bit of an exaggeration. I didn’t even know what it was going to be.

History

At first I offered a newsletter ‘subscribe’ feature to at least capture visitors emails and continued to add animations and interactivity. Inspired by my audience and the suggested mystery of what the site was about… I played around with the idea of it being a sort of experimental socially interactive game. I developed the alter-ego “V001”. This was to suggest the notion of “Version 1″… or Citizen “X’. It was a generic name to insinuate that I was no one… or that we are all “V001”. The story began to unfold and as I began to entertain and create a cat and mouse, down the rabbit hole, scavenger hunt kind of an air about it… I summarized the concept into the tag-line… “The first multimedia virtual reality game show you didn’t even know you where already playing!”. By 2006 the site had a forum section called “The round table” so we could all communicate with one another, a guest book, a T.V. for watching videos, a photo gallery, and a ‘projects’ section where experiments requiring participation from members in the community would be proposed. Artist’s contributed art work, a wonderfully trippy philly band called Twentyagon contributed their complimenting music… the site and it’s momentum was growing.


ARCHIVED 2006 SITE

 

No matter how much more digital interaction I could add… a web community seemed like it can only go so far. I wanted to get past the techno-limits and facilitate something more meaningful, tangible and substantive. Like wanting to reach through a phone and hug someone. At the time, Bush, 911, terrorism and the Iraq war where polluting our collective consciousness. Without going into the more detailed structure and philosophy of the ‘games’ concept at the time… The site nurtured a healthy tone of political activism while offering videos covering current controversies and eluding to activism’s relationship to the ‘game’.

Some of the participants where inspired by the notion of manifesting this energy as some form of actual action to effect positive change and expressed an anxious desire, a fire, to get more involved. Being involved in street art culture, I had been trading stickers I made via snail mail with other street artists. I took that sub-cultural street art phenomenon and offered it to the sites participants to engage in and take things to the next level. I printed up 400 stickers with the sites logo and proposed a contest. Those who signed up received stickers along with a note…

snail_mail_letter

These lovely weird folks sent back photos of the stickers they stuck about here and there and on this and that. It was inspiring and gratifying in some way beyond the digital chatter to share something as simple as a sticker and have some one respond back with a picture of this object you now both physically engaged with.

The general notion of this interactive exchange manifesting as something tangible in the real world beyond the web seemed to move in the right direction of reaching beyond its limits. I was working on a concept for the next project which followed along these lines, but involved launching 99 red helium balloons tied with some shwag pack of stickers and stuff into the sky. The shwag pack would contain a letter similar to the sticker contest asking whomever finds the balloons to report back to the site where they found it. The site would then ask them to keep the ball rolling by putting together a shwag pack of their own, packing it with the same letter, inflating a provided balloon and launching it. I notified the participants that an updated and improved site was coming. I had some contractors add a php/mysql content management system, artist and musician profiles, an ‘arcade’ for games, and was working on improving some existing features and debugging before going live. At this point my research back into the project, source files and recollection of what happened is blurry. Here’s a video to give you an idea of the sites final manifestation…

Alas… this is where the anticlimactic story slips away as quickly as it arose. Such is the fickle and unpredictable nature of the creative process. Like a love affair that crescendos into a peak before its own inevitable demise. Hold on to it and what was and you suffer endlessly for something that doesn’t exist in the moment other than in the memory that carried it here. Letting go allows things to come to a close naturally and makes room for new possibilities. The only thing real about whatever was before is whatever you take from it that stays with you into the next moment. Like life… there’s no guarantee that surfing the unhindered creative process will result in you getting much of anywhere, but it seems to make it easier to enjoy the ride.

As a final note of gratitude and appreciation… Id like to thank the original super star DJ Keoki, his band of merry prankster fans and the few ultra kool kids that saw something special and gave life to this otherwise meaningless pixels on a screen. It was never about me… the site… the project… It was about you. It was your web site… I was just a visitor.

Thank you…

Pixel Hustler (AKA V001)