The images that appear dispersed throughout this publication may feel both nostalgic and alien. There is a familiarity to them not that is not based in memory, as if from a dream.
For Entropy, the new age media company that compiled them, evoking the uncanny is intentional. Somewhere between an agency and a design studio, they quietly launched an image-curation platform back in October, and that clandestine quality is part of their lore: whereas your standard agency might showcase reels of their previous work, Entropy’s digital trail is inscrutable. “People we work with tend to understand that there’s more going on behind the scenes,” says co-founder Cedric Payne, a strategist. If you know, you know.
Judging from their online presence, you’d think that Entropy, like the image collections that people are creating with the tool, is nothing more than a moodboard. It takes some digging to find evidence of their reach in art and media. But in the nine months since Payne started the company with web developer Brian Curran, Entropy has produced short films, manufactured clothing, and handled brand redesigns—all the while employing scarcity to create a narrative. When pieces of a story are missing, the mind fills the gaps. As spectators, we create the company’s lore in real time.
Tasked with creating a visual narrative for Zora’s inaugural print issue, Payne says he scoured “the entire internet” for images depicting our digital history, leafing through Tumblrs and Blogspots from the early 2000s. “It’s familiar imagery that sits with you in a new way,” he says.
Nominally, Entropy is about disorder and chaos, rejecting predictability. Accordingly, Payne’s selections feel random at times and intentional at others, at once cynical and tongue-in-cheek: a smashed Motorola Razr, a legal notice from LimeWire, children hunched over the screen of a Bondi Blue iMac. There is something strange about viewing the recent past, like you’re seeing a version of yourself that was never meant to be seen.
Payne’s past work includes art direction and curation for the social DAO Friends With Benefits. He’s interested in trend forecasting and speculative futures—and his penchant for these alternate realities, just adjacent to our own, is clear. Any historian will tell you that the best way to predict the future is to look to the past. And these images of technological obsolescence and memes are Payne’s crystal ball for fashion, marketing, and culture at large.
So what’s next? What is the past trying to tell us? Payne predicts the rise of subcultures to the mainstream. “Be prepared,” he says, “to see a lot more unfamiliar imagery coming soon.”
Photography via CREATIVE COMMONS