One of the more interesting facets of this project has been the speed at which it has been discovered and written about. I was juggling an interview schedule not a week after posting what I thought was going to be a slow burn participatory project—I was new to Tumblr and didn’t know if fellow Tumblrs would respond.
That meant I really didn’t have time to think about why I was doing the project much less why it was proving popular. It wasn’t until this week when I found myself getting my first full body airport scan that I started to grasp why The Composites found a place in culture so quickly, and internationally.
Here’s a breakdown:
In North America, technology and culture have been in a 10-year sprint to forensicize everyday life far beyond the need of basic law enforcement. Internationally, of course, that has been the case much longer with Europe having to negotiate surveillance culture for decades. I think that theory is borne out by the fact that reality television wasn’t popular here until the mid-aughts.
Christian Bök called The Composites notably Ballard-esque (Vaughn from Crash was one of the first characters created) and riffing on that I’d also say that the combination of a law enforcement media and literature is a snapshot of inner space right at a time when literature is experiencing an ontological crisis. Writing’s struggle with digitization emulsifies well, it seems, with technology’s struggle with issues of privacy and security.
Where this goes from here, I don’t know. I will continue to take suggestions—1,000 and counting—and post one or two characters every week. I’ve really enjoyed collaborating with the readers on Tumblr, as they’ve dispelled the notions that the Internet fluent don’t read and that readers don’t like “unlikeable” characters.