The daily click with SeaShellNoise

Daily News Egypt
5 Min Read

Since its launch on May 8, new Cairo-based website SeaShellNoise made a daring, highly ambitious promise: to change its entire interface every day.

Initiated, designed and developed daily by Egyptian freelance graphic designer Ahmed Foula, this website, in many ways, is another exemplar of people’s fascination with communing with others; of forging some kind of connection in the virtual space.

Foula’s basic idea was to create a website for his portfolio in graphic design. After several failed attempts to reach a specific vision with a web developer, Foula decided to use his web domain to display a daily self-portrait of his state of mind.

Like a TV station, the broadcast duration of each project is only 24 hours. And in order to stimulate the spectator’s curiosity, the possibility of going back or forward with pages to check older and coming projects is not available.

“I have noticed that accumulation is a core function of the internet, Foula told Daily News Egypt. “Web browsing is mainly structured to explore past or future activities, while the present moment was usually the least important.

“For that, I decided to remove the archive and focus on the present; changing my website everyday to reflect my current condition.

The displayed material has ranged from personal objects and comical video footage to abstract designs or simply anything related to his daily routine.

On one day, the website featured anomalous objects such as local pharmaceutical products packaged into kitschy Pharaonic wrappings and a 25-piaster coin with both sides containing engravings with no picture.

Watermelons are clearly an object of affection of Foula’s. On Day 4, he offered the ingredients of watermelon jam juxtaposed with a news article about bombs discovered inside a watermelon in Israel. Day 50 was dedicated to showing an educational video about the content and nutritional importance of watermelons.

SeaShellNoise has also acted as a platform for transmitting video and film. Among the most notable films shown on the website are Nadia Kamal’s acclaimed documentary feature “Salata Balady (Oriental Salad) and Nick Holt’s “Guys and Dolls, a BBC feature about the relationships of single paraphiliac males with their life size, anatomically correct dolls.

Day 54 was quite exceptional. The website was left empty for the public to use it as a drawing pad. The following day, all submitted works were uploaded and tagged with the names of the participants.

Since portraits can be the most deceptive mark of identity, Foula started to collect passport-size photos as part of his ongoing research on stereotypical Egyptian features. This archive of faces was then used in a series of projects published on a number of days. One project contained several photos assembled beside each other shown under a magnifying lens.

Countless other schemes, varying from a photo of a landscape with an animated waterfall and an interactive game of dots and lines to the launch of the AGA (the Arabic font and phrases used on the web, Arabic TV stations and Arab design companies), were presented in alphabetical order, accompanied by voice-clips for illustration.

Amid all these experimentations lies a strong attention for the aesthetic. Visitors of SeaShellNoise are offered skillfully designed frontage with a well-harmonized composition each time they enter the website.

“This idea of having a link with the whole world, open 24/7, and with an international access is insanely dazzling, Foula says. “It proved to me that human communication is a need that should become a sacred ritual for all of us.

In an essay titled “Self design and aesthetic responsibility published in the seventh issue of e-flux online journal, art critic and media theorist Boris Groys explains that “self-design has come to be the mass cultural practice par excellence. He further adds that in both the real and virtual world, we are all subjected to aesthetic evaluation that holds us accountable on how we portray ourselves and define our self-image.

For this reason, many people have found the internet an attractive comfort zone that offers much more freedom for self-representation than other media. Hence, SeaShellNoise cannot be merely regarded as another cool website, but a perfect illustration of how we can subtly create a perfect public image for ourselves, not by explicitly articulating it, but by creating several activities and works that mirror our true selves.

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