Who is this internet necromancer communing with the ghosts of media past? Between his broken VHS tapes and hacked Nintendo games, Max Capacity conducts a staticky stream of pop culture imagery from the past with the verve of the digital now. Anything is fair game — from 80s TV commercials to FBI warnings, the Santa Cruz native even makes TV static entirely his own.
But how to define his work: video art? Digital art? Net art? Sure, he makes animated GIFs but calling him a “.GIF artist” ignores how much work he does with multiple camcorders, VCRs, and home-brewed glitch tech. Each image represents a huge amount of labor — digital and physical — and how to represent that in a categorical description presents a unique challenge.
The singularity of his process should come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen Max Capacity’s work, however. Although it’s derived from pre-existing sources, when one of his GIFs turns up on someone else’s blog, it’s immediately recognizable as a Max Capacity original.
The nostalgia factor is definitely high. Seeing the familiar stripes and scratches of a VHS tape beaten beyond the reach of tracking adjustment, the white noise of bad reception, or a game map so glitched out you want to reach through your screen and blow into the cartridge are experiences that will be unknown to younger generations. Despite Max’s claim at the close of our interview that his work is “more like watching a Schwarzenegger movie than going to a museum”, the fact is that with each passing year, his work and the questions raised by it are becoming an important archive of electronic esoterica. In the end, maybe Max Capacity is more Indiana Jones than Terminator?