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An introduction to the super amazing Ze Frank!
Who is Ze Frank?
According to wikipedia, Frank was born while crocuses were blooming in a suburb of Albany, New York. His parents gave him the name: Hosea Jan Frank, though he is known as Ze Frank to the public. He went to Brown University, studied neuroscience there, and then moved to Los Angeles where he is currently based.
I first became aware of Ze Frank in 2003 or so, and quickly fell in love with his website. It is an amazing, playful and thought provoking place; and makes use of all that the internet has to offer. He has some very funny pieces there. One in particular gets me going: how to respond to telemarketers. It has 20 suggestions of what to do when a telemarketer calls. #3 from that list: Say you are hard of hearing and see how loud they (the telemarketer) will shout into the phone.
He also has some very funny videos on his website. They are all very short, often broken up into small segments that can be watched separately. He is fairly deadpan in most of them. In one, he gives instructions on how to impress a date. Dating is a very important part of most people's lives, and Ze's instructions here are quite impressive. In another, perhaps related video, he offers up some dancing instructions. They are sure to demonstrate that with a little enthusiasm any one can dance. Words fail to do either of these gems justice, so I suggest that if you have the bandwidth, and audio isn't a problem where you are, you go and visit them now.
There is another video that I especially like of Ze's which borders on the fantastic. Have you ever noticed how some white people really, really like black music? For instance, I love reggae, especially dub music like Sly and Robbie's. Ze offers up a comedic partial rendition of the James Brown classic "Super Bad". Again, words fail to do justice to Ze's inimitable genius as a web based performance artist. In fact, he is one of the few people I am aware of who begins to do justice to the internet as a performance space.
As well as having a lot of funny stuff on his site, Ze also has some great interactive pieces. In one, he invites viewers to send in a photo of themselves with a word, and then has a page where people can arrange those photos. Sort of like a magnetic poetry set, only with pictures and for the internet. It showcases Ze's brilliance once again.
Ze also has a number of interactive web toys. There is one that allows you to create a kaleidoscopic effect online. I like this one a lot. Some of the other ones are not as interesting to me. This is also true of many of the other things on his website. I think it's definitely worth visiting though, and definitely looking at some of the ones I haven't highlighted. I think I've looked at all the things you can look at on his website at one time or another. Why don't you visit it, and let me know which one(s) you like. His site is really unlike virtually anything else you'll ever find on the web. If you know of something that compares, please let me know!!
One last thing I really like about Ze's site is that he often updates it with very cool videos from other sources. 5 or more times per month on average, he uploads videos by other people to his site. Here is one I like, featuring a singing dog and a baby. While many of the videos he posts are funny, some are quite informative, like this one made by a woman with autism; which is about ten minutes long, and is best watched in its entirety. It is pieces like this last one that truly demonstrate the compassion and discerning view that Ze Frank possesses.
Ze Frank is already recognized as a web pioneer, having won a webby award and being featured in Time magazine, and I believe that as time passes, he will be seen as a beacon of the dawning vistas of creativity and interactivity that the web offers. He is amusing, fantastic (bordering on the otherworldly at times), generous, and seriously creative. His website remains a light that kindles my consciousness and artistic side. While not all of his site appeals to me, as some of it is too geeky; and other parts seem too amateurish; overall I think that he sets the bar high, and has created a beautiful and entertaining portal on the web. I hope that you have some time to go check out his website and find inspiration, laughter and comfort there. Let me know what you think!
If you'd like to be more creative, like Ze Frank!