The Multi-Cultural Recycler

The Multi-Cultural Recycler (1996/7)

The Multi-Cultural Recycler was a net art project that performed image processing and compositing on live images pulled from Web cameras around the world, in a tongue-in cheek commentary on cultural recycling and cyberspace. It was one of the first process-based net art projects. It also predicted the rise of webcam celebrities nearly 10 years before YouTube launched.
The Recycler was in a number of shows in its day. It was nominated for a Webby Award in 1999.

The Multi-Cultural Recycler image

* Non-functional Internet Archive Capture of the Multi-Cultural Recycler in 1998.
* Non-functional Internet Archive Capture of the Multi-Cultural Recycler with a recycled image in 2000.
* Non-functional but nicely archived copy with images of part of the site and gallery at netescopio.
* has a nice archive with images of the page with the camera menu and the Recycle Bin.

* Text from the site:
Internet Archive copies of “What is the Multi-Cultural Recycler?” English Version and Artspeak version. (With the addition of some stray HTML that apparently didn’t escape the 90s.)

The Multi-Cultural Recycler ran from 1996 to 2015. The scripting was a hacked together amalgam of various Perl and shell scripts that sent images to the back end of a piece of 1990’s Silicon Graphics compositing software called Eddie. As of 2015 The Recycler was running on a 1996 SGI that still had a copy of Eddie, but that machine and The Recycler met their end when a water main break flooded my studio. However, you can watch shaky video documentation of The Recycler. The video capture was done in the Recycler’s “heyday” in 1997, so the quality is lousy. But it shows a bit of what the project was like when it Recycled the webcams of the mid-90’s. They tended to have a character you don’t usually find nowadays…