I’m not the first to ask the question which is why it is so easy for me to answer.
Known commonly as “the Parked Domain Girl” or “the Expired Domain Girl“, her’s is the beaming face that pops up when the URL punched into your browser includes a typo. Two years ago, You Suck at Websites explained:
“Demand Media is the company responsible for pimping out this girl on empty websites set up to generate money from accidental visits. The Demand Media business model is this — scoop up generic or keyword-rich domain names and sell advertising space despite the lack of any iota of useful content. It’s not exactly spamming, but it’s just one notch above mass emailing Viagra ads.
Also in the comments, the original photographer, Dustin Steller chimed in:
I am the photographer who took the photo you all are talking about. I shot the series in the Kansas City area, so it is definitely not a real college campus. Here is the link to see some more from the series – http://www.istockphoto.com/dsteller/ As a side note, it is my little sister.
WHOSE IS THAT FACE
Is it even her own at this point? Is it recognisable by a significant number of folk? Maybe only in America? Is this image ubiquitous (enough)? You Suck at Websites reckon she’s been viewed “more times than a Paris Hilton sex tape.” Of course, Ms Hilton is not the measure by which we gauge web-notoriety.
I’d argue the face/image is ours more than hers at this point. An unintended visual pseudonym for glitches in web-browsing.
AN ARTIST RESPONDS TO THE FACE
The website Urlesque points us in the direction of Parker Ito; an artist who grappled with the empty infamy of this image. For his project The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet, Ito asked orderartwork.com, a Chinese company which makes oil paintings on-demand, to create a series of paintings based on the Steller/iStock/Demand Media image.
The results are spectacularly banal:
Gene McHugh at Post Internet has written about Ito’s project:
“[The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet] might be considered in relation to Warhol’s Marilyn series of silkscreened paintings. Both Marilyn Monroe and “the parked domain girl” are icons of emptiness–Monroe was (in her media representation) a blank slate for sexual desire, the parked domain girl is (in her media representation) a symbol of sites without content.”
McHugh goes on to point out that Warhol was interested in “the way that ‘real life’ stars like Monroe developed a life of their own in the sphere of reproducible images. Whereas “the parked domain girl” takes on – indeed establishes – a meaning and a “reality” that didn’t exist prior to Ito’s art.
McHugh concludes that the image of “the Parked Domain Girl” is culturally-distributed enough to be defined as icon.
“Ito’s work is thus meaningful not for depicting the automated painting of a “real” icon, but for depicting the outsourced hand-painting of a “fake” icon and, in so doing, bringing Warhol’s joke full circle.”
Ito also adopted the format of Demand Media’s web-pages for his own website homepage:
Also worth checking out
The Everywhere Girl – http://www.theeverywheregirl.com/ – … the face that launched a thousand ads!