The crew of the Enterprise face the finalest frontier: the internet.
Screenshots:TNG is a facebook group created by new media artist Anthony Antonellis. Here the digital curator invited net artists to express their love of the Star Trek universe and the culture surrounding it through open sourced, hacked images contributed to the page. These are sometimes artfully chosen screenshots and related found imagery, but often the members also create original works that present uniquely ‘new media’ views of the beloved franchise. Recently Antonellis was kind enough to answer a few questions about Screenshots:TNG, and also choose some of his favorite contributions to the site so far.
The Creators Project: What inspired you to start ScreenshotsTNG?
I had just quit the infamous #Screenshots Facebook group, which had a good year-long run before slowly becoming mostly 4chan reblogs; and at the same time I started re-watching the Next Generation for the first time since its original airing. The group was founded as a public service, not for the benefit of those in it, but for the benefit of those who didn’t want their feeds flooded with Star Trek posts.
Did the positive reaction to it surprise you?
What really surprised me is that it didn’t become a one hit wonder, the posts never tapered off. Ultimately, pop culture is a communicative currency, and so many of us have seen Star Trek that it allows snowballing off of that common knowledge.
Why do you feel that Star Trek has such enduring popularity?
Science Fiction shows seem to flourish during times of economic prosperity when people are looking toward the future; both the original series and Next Generation both benefited from their good timing. I think it’s really interesting to millennials for its idealistic themes, everyone worked together in teams and really gave a damn, it had that gung-ho attitude balanced with an emphasis on problem solving through science and reason.
Why is it an inspiration to new media artists?
In the Star Trek universe they prided themselves on knowledge sharing: the Federation was like a blueprint for open source culture. That part of it probably appeals to the arts and tech crowd. Leaving the conceptual side, everything was high tech and really cool: from the slick touch screens to the magic wand like devices, all packaged in a carpeted 90’s-office-lobby meets pastel-shopping-mall aesthetic. Thankfully, I think I already own 75% of the things I wanted to exist from the Enterprise, and my laptop is way better than Captain Picard’s.
Contributed by Carrie Gates
Favorite Star Trek quote?
Shut up, Wesley!
Favorite Star Trek Character and why?
Definitely Data, he’s like the internet. There is a thematic strand of science fiction that focuses around the fear of sentient machines that subsequently become obsessed with the destruction of humanity: Terminators, Cylons, the Matrix, etc. Data is the antithesis of all that, he’s a best-case scenario; he’s like a Silicon Valley version of a Terminator. He thinks we’re awesome, wants to be like us, and he paints and owns a cat.
Favorite Star Trek villains?
That’s a tough one; there are so many good villains in TNG. The Cardassian interactions seemed the most realistic, especially with those Guantamo-esque torture episodes. But really it’s the Borg; and none of that later nonsense with individualized Borg and Borg queens, I’m talking about there early Borg that were an impassive drone collective only interested in resources and expansion; they were a personified virus, a stateless hive mind like a multinational corporation.
What do you think of the new films?
I think it’s great they exist to introduce a whole new audience to the franchise. They aren’t quite the same Star Trek universe as before; it has a lot of potential but needs to depart from the whole Kirk/Spock centricity and focus more on the crew ensemble. It's probably not possible in the shortness of a film, but Star Trek is more interesting in an episodic format, so hopefully some day it will return to a regular series.
Contributed by Carla Gannis
Contributed by Viktor Timofeev
Contributed by Graham Riley
To see a full range of Star Trek/New Media mashups be sure to visit the official Screenshots:TNG Facebook page here.
Thumbnail image courtesy of Courtesy of Zachary McLean Webb