The internet is a vast megastructure, teeming with rapidly evolving life in its most crowded regions. Some of this stuff seems to be organic, operating according to a logic all its own; one need only watch the rapid-fire development and abandonment of a meme on Twitter or the creation of a vast mythos on Twitch for evidence. But the megastructure is also full of half-empty hotel meeting rooms—niche populations gathering to discuss arcana—and endless wings of never-seen oddities, like abandoned Geocities pages and the musings of Twitter eggs.
Astronaut.io unearths one of the least-explored corners of the internet, featuring an endless stream of YouTube videos that have been viewed close to zero times. The expository text sets the tone:
Today, you are an Astronaut. You are floating in inner space 100 miles above the surface of Earth. You peer through your window and this is what you see. You are people watching. These are fleeting moments.
These videos come from YouTube. They were uploaded in the last week and have titles like DSC 1234 and IMG 4321. They have almost zero previous views. They are unnamed, unedited, and unseen by anyone but YOU.
From there, you’re off: night-vision footage of a deer, a young girl practicing high beams while the judges look away, an actual cockfight, a kid dancing by himself in his room, soldiers of unspecified nationality marching in an empty field, and so on. There’s a cat! It’s on a chair! And then it’s gone. Each video plays for only a few seconds, although a button on the bottom of the screen allows you to view it for longer. It’s an interesting project, at once calling attention to the absurd noisiness of the internet and expressing a strange humanity toward the signals buried therein.