11/6/2016 Noon. Knockdown Center, Maspeth, Queens.
‘We need an escape from the internet to meet people in a real space,’ said Kensuke Sembo, the event’s co-founder. ‘It’s kind of a break.’
Some of the web-savviest among us descended on a repurposed warehouse in Maspeth on Sunday to take a sideways look at our collective internet obsessions. Internet Yami-ichi — which translates literally to “black market” but also refers to an addiction in Japanese — was held in New York City for just the second time. Founders Kensuke Sembo and Yae Akaiwa started the flea market in Tokyo in 2012 after Apple rejected their app, which temporarily turned iPhone screens black in an effort to discourage obsessive use. The New York installment of the event, which has also been held in ten other cities worldwide, attracted about 120 vendors selling knickknacks and artifacts, from tiny computer chips loaded with vintage Nineties malware and sealed in airtight test tubes to 24-karat gold floppy disk pendants. “Human 3-D printers” folded tiny origami figures, and attendees recorded messages into a microphone for a dual digital and analog time capsule — one headed for the ocean and the other to stay online, locked behind a password for the next ten years. If there had to be a theme, it was: Surprise yourself, IRL.
Text by Alexandria Neason; Photos by Sean Pressley for the Village Voice