What with vaporwave on the pop-culture rise and the Millennial generation finally becoming old enough to retain a substantial cache of dial-up-era nostalgia fumes, I figure that this web site I've preserved from 1997 might be of some historical intrigue.
My dad built this site as a home page in the late 1990's, designing around a metaphorical narrative; Elizaga's CyberDiner was written to be a post-war'esque small-town diner experience.
The source code is interesting. You'll see some primeval HTML, from a bygone era where it was standard to keep styling elements as values of the HTML tags themselves. Rather than use divs, the CyberDiner is built from tables. To give the illusion of rapid image loading times, 0px by 0px images are laced throughout the code, thus forcing browsers to cache them prior to the user ever seeing the full-sized images. Rather than use CSS margins, the interface is spaced just-so using blank gifs the exact color as the page backgrounds.
I have a lot to say about Elizaga's Cyberdiner. Art can become an arms race if you let it. I know I spend far too much time in a kind of paralysis of consumerism, thinking,
"Oh, if I had a full-frame camera, my photos would be so much better."
"Oh, if I edited with Avid my movies would be so much more professional."
"Oh, if I had some expensive brushes my paintings would be so much nicer."
"Oh, if I had this software or library I would be able to do this."
"Oh, if only I had this expensive microphone, my audio would sound so much crisper."
"Oh, if I had a secluded fortress with a balcony vista, vaulted ceilings, a tropical indoor garden with a massive desk, a 7 ft rack-mounted server, waterfalls and a roaming herd of happy guinea pigs, I could be so much more creative."
"Oh, if only I were using this paper with 90 gsm and dot gri—"
These are just subconscious excuses to avoid the discomfort that comes with making mistakes, which is some 95% of the creative and learning processes. Part of breaking this mentality is reminding yourself that your predecessors created legendary work using far less technological capability and creative luxuries than what you have in your pocket:
- Ernest Hemingway wrote with a pencil and his contemporaries wrote with typewriters.
- Robert Rodriguez funded El Mariachi with money he got for participating in medical testing studies.
- Hayao Miyazaki doesn't even erase pencil marks on his messy watercolor drawings.
- Serial Experiments Lain was animated using an ancient version of Adobe Photoshop during the late 1990's on first-generation PowerPC iMacs.
- Chris Sawyer wrote RollerCoaster Tycoon in x86 assembly.
- For decades, films were edited with tape and knives and every single animation cell had to be hand-drawn by somebody.
Similarly, with Elizaga's Diner, I see a cleanly executed concept that maximizes on what primitive tools were available at the time, liberally dithered gifs and all. You don't need a Canon 5D Mark III to make something impressive; to think otherwise would be to deny your personal skill and ingenuity, conflating it with what you consume, rather than what you create.