Published September 21, 2009
It’s hard to distinguish yourself as a cool-hunter in the age of Tumblr and Google Reader. Everyone has access to the same images, and once an intrepid image-troller finds something new–a sweet vintage leather bike seat, an original Berkeley-made Sierra Designs backpack, a shot from a 70s Caribbean-themed fashion spread–it’s shared “via” ten other blogs within a few hours.
JJJJound stands quite a bit apart from the rest of the field. It certainly has the coolest, most eclectically beautiful images on the internet. Some of them come from other blogs–street fashion observer the Sartorialist figures heavily, as do party pix sites–while others are from product websites (Orvis, Puma, J.Crew), yard sales (lots of old Poloroids), film stills, Maxim, French lifestyle magazines from the 70s, industrial design blueprints, or Tupac Shakur album covers. But JJJJound, the project of Montreal denizen Justin Saunders, is more about the surprising juxtapositions, unexpected narrative and stylistic resonances, and little moments of aesthetic perfection that arise out of his careful arrangement of images. The image selection is highly personal–certain obscure themes recur frequently in a sort of dream-logic–but also strangely universal.
It’s not, then, the Lomo photos of the aesthetically blessed at the beach, or the casual elegance and studied intimacy of the girl getting out of bed in a sun-drenched Parisian apartment, or the post-ironic embrace of prep in the J.Crew catalogue–it’s the attitude adopted towards all of these together, the willful organization of these signs into a coherent and self-aware style. One might even venture to call it a commentary on the slick, lo-fi, nostalgic-inflected culture being sold so convincingly at the intersection of lifestyle blogs, fashion photography, and contemporary art. If there were ever a Tumblr that captured a late-2000s image-and-cool-obsessed zeitgeist in all its sad beauty–well, this is it. (IMAGES: JJJJOUND)