Today Tuesday, July 18th, this photo –a homemade promotional shot for Les Horribles Cernettes, a band based at the CERN laboratory near Geneva– turns 26 years old.
Lesley Martin, a photo scholar at the Aperture Foundation, after being shown the image for the first time said,
“It’s sort of terrible and charming.”
They’re always semi-accidental and seemingly inconsequential at the time. The first photos are always, from the perspective of a sophisticated viewer today, somewhat non-events and of non-subjects.”
The photographer, Silvano de Gennaro, was an IT developer at CERN who worked near Tim Berners-Lee and the other scientists who had invented the Web and made it public in 1991.
On July 18th, 1992, de Gennaro was backstage at the Hardronic Music Festival, an annual event thrown by CERN’s administrators, waiting for the Cernettes — whom he managed, and whose songs he wrote. He wanted a shot for their next CD cover. (remember CD’s?)
The original photo is, from left, Angela Higney, Michele de Gennaro, Colette Marx-Neilsen & Lynn Veronneau.
Why did the Cernettes become part of history? Partly because Tim Berners-Lee was into crossdressing. Marx-Nielsen said,
“I don’t know whether I should be telling you this, but he worked at CERN and I saw him because he was part of our pantomime in our amateur operatic society.”
De Gennaro and his girlfriend were also involved in that dramatic society and befriended Berners-Lee there. In turn, he became a fan of the Cernettes too.
So when Berners-Lee and his team cooked up a new edition of their still-primitive World Wide Web, one that could support photo files, he asked de Gennaro for a Cernettes-related image.
And, as they say, the rest is Web HerStory. Marx-Nielsen said,
“I kinda put it out sometimes and say, ‘Well, I’m in the first photograph on the World Wide Web.’ People don’t really care. I suppose it had to be somebody, and it just happened to be us.”
(via Huffington Post)