Work / Digital

Impressive technical ability and humour combine in Marco Land’s portfolio of websites and apps

In 2015, designer and developer Marco Land uploaded a funny photo to Instagram which was subsequently reposted by multiple people becoming “some kind of short viral meme”. During the dissemination of the image, its original source (Marco) was lost as others tagged and credited whoever they had appropriated the image from. “In the beginning I found this very awkward and felt like something was stolen from me,” Marco tells It’s Nice That. “At that time I was surprised by how many copies of the exact image circulate around the web, while my intention behind the uploaded photo was to create something unique.”

Two years later, Marco returned to the topic, deciding to write his bachelor thesis around this idea, researching what we upload to the internet and why. Reading into the vast numbers of images uploaded to the web, Marco created CCamera, a response to the idea that everything has already been photographed. An app, as soon as you hit the capture button, CCamera swaps your screen with a visually similar image to the one you tried to take. “This is a very interesting concept because it plays with a lot of important factors in photography, especially copyright (CC in CCamera also standing for carbon copy and playing with a duplicated letter),” Marco explains. “Normally you would be called the author of a photo if you’ve captured it, CCamera ‘tricks’ you into shooting a photo because you’re also pressing the capture button. But in reality it is not yours.”

While clearly an intelligent response to a societal issue, CCamera is delivered with bags of wit and a touch sarcasm – a common factor throughout much of Marco’s work, and something he is very aware of. “I’m inspired by the wit and irony of everyday situations and objects or current discussions in our society,” he remarks. “The funniest thing to me is when something tries really hard to look serious, when in reality it’s ridiculous – like the CCamera app.”

Based in Berlin where he also studied, but originally from the small German city of Bonn, Marco first started experimenting with web design in the early 2000s as a teenager. “I didn’t really understand how websites or the internet worked but was interested in it and taught myself how to build a small website,” he recalls. His real first foray into the creative industries was through graphic design, however, designing T-shirts for Carhartt WIP and then books for Project Projects. During this time, he “always had some digital side projects which needed some form of HTML, CSS and basic JS customisation,” and “with browsers becoming more powerful I enjoyed experimenting with the media more and more,” eventually leading to a full-on career switch.

Today, this element of experimentation is still what drives his practice. “I like diving into new technology, playing around with it and teaching it to myself. It can be a new framework, language or even just software like content management system,” Marco explains. “That’s why I am a fan of new releases. It feels like every week something new comes out, either technology, hardware or software that gives us an opportunity to work with and develop something new.”

While working as a freelancer, Marco also spends a lot of time on personal projects, of which Digital Detox is one example. Digital Detox is a Google Chrome extension which translated the amount of time Marco spends scrolling into a physical value. It does this by sending scrolling distances to a server which translates this value onto a map, tracking how far along the Way of St. James pilgrimage Marco has “travelled”. Having wanted to make something around this topic for a while, Marco got the idea when “a friend of mine was joking how he wanted to do a digital detox but was still scrolling on this phone.” Its title, Digital Detox, embodies the irony Marco’s work is good at channelling and the project’s execution demonstrates how adept Marco actually is as a designer and developer. “I figured that it will take me quite a while to ‘walk’ the 900km path and added an ETA calculator,” he concludes. “As of now, I expect to reach the end in 2023…”