photo 2, Chapel Hill, NC, 1999, Selenium-Toned Gelatin Silver Print, 11 x 14 in.

Chapel Hill, NC, 1999
Selenium-Toned Gelatin Silver Print
11 x 14 in.


thumnail image 1
thumnail image 2
thumnail image 3
thumnail image 4

9 in Flash (380k)

TODD STABLEY photographs



In 1999 at the height of the technology boom, a charismatic guy approached me to see if I’d be willing to leave my job at UNC to come work for him. He was positioning his new company, Zoom Culture, to take advantage of multimedia technologies debuting on the Internet. Intentionally bald and sporting a goatee and black turtleneck, he combined evangelical zeal with MTV attitude and style. At our initial meeting he presented me with numbers suggesting that signing on with his company could make me very rich. Afterward, he sent me an email that read almost like a poem:

there is so much more to come...
and I think you’re gonna wanna be a part of it
it’s gonna be good
loving the process,

Over the next year I was allowed to test the waters while working part time as a contractor. During that year the company continued to grow, winning round after round of venture capital funding and laying claim to an office suite within walking distance of my house in Carrboro. I looked forward to my frequent visits, which would inevitably be met with handshakes, high-fives, and introductions to two or three newly minted Internet stars brought in from across the country. Eventually, that office space was nearly over-run with rowdy people, bikes, and piles of digital video equipment.

The pictures displayed together here were all taken on a single evening, at a Christmas party in December 2000 celebrating yet another round of funding and a new business model geared toward TV. I was asked to be one of the “paparazzi” that night to add to the spectacle that had been planned, which included employees arriving by limo posing as VIP’s. By the time the company finally shut its doors in January of 2003, having consumed twenty million venture capital dollars, most of the people shown in these pictures had long since moved on to other things, many of them victims of shakedowns and restructurings that began to hit when the economy went sour. I decided to keep my feet planted within academia, a decision I’m glad I made now that the company has called it quits. But given the contagious events unfolding around me during that year, a portion of which these pictures bear witness to, I’m glad I had the opportunity to choose.

—Todd Stabley January 2003