Individual Work

Barry Smylie’s “1969/99” features multiple hyperlinked web pages and flash animation. When viewed in Internet Explorer, the user can reveal superimposed text by mousing over images.  It is dominated by graphics and sound from popular culture of the 1960s and 1990s.

In particular, “1969/99” draws heavily on the themes and images of Fail Safe (1962) by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, in which machine malfunctions and humanity’s blind faith in the infallibility of technology accidentally cause a nuclear war.  Burdick and Wheeler’s book was adapted for film in 1964 and for television in 2000.

Created during the Y2K frenzy, “1969/99” offers a complex (and sometimes comic) cultural commentary and comparison between Cold War America and that of the Millennium. For example, one page titled "the b52s" juxtaposes images of a B-52 strategic bomber with those of the New Wave band The B-52s. The B-52s song "Meet the Flintstones" is the featured audio track on another page, "evolution," where the cartoon images of the Flintstones (1960-66) are superimposed on the cast photo of The Flintstones Movie (1994).  In “beatitude,” Smylie quotes from Allan Ginsberg’s “Howl,” “I saw the best minds of my generation,” while the soundtrack repeats “starving, hysterical, naked,” thus leaving the user to fill in the omitted portion of the line “destroyed by madness.”