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Techno visionaries - Afflicting the world through technology  |  Written by jamaicaobserver.com   |  Monday, 26 January 2004

"Our country is known for its extremes. A place packed with originality and creative energy that continues to flourish despite the current socio-political state that has removed the personal pride of many. An island filled with beauty unsurpassed and ugliness that would make a rat puke." - www.afflictedyard.com, Peter Dean Rickards

PETER DEAN Rickards - controversial, rebel, writer, photographer. Log on to www.afflictedyard.com, his creation, and take a look into the mind of someone many, particularly conservative types, would argue is walking a thin line between sanity and madness.

The site boasts thrashings of mainstream personalities like Carolyn Cooper, sports photos of scantily clad barely-over-the-age-of-consent-looking women brandishing rather large guns, displays images of dancehall heavyweights in sometimes amusing and other times daunting positions. The site also bears a contentious message board filled with patrons of Rickard's like mind, and is at its essence - whether intentionally or not - a whirlwind of social and political commentaries through both text and imagery.

Nonetheless, for Rickards his website is simply a business card. It's the medium he uses to have his work seen and appreciated by editors and business heads he may have otherwise had to go through hell and high water to even glimpse at his portfolio.

It doesn't mean though that the 34-year-old is oblivious to the power behind his hold of this aspect of technology. While interviewing him hints of his acute awareness is revealed when he speaks to the way website hosts like himself have barged into media territory. The site prides itself as 'media terrorists' - continually presenting a-typical views to those of recognised media houses in all regions. Arbitrary web-surfers are not the only visitors to the afflictedyard.com website, but it undoubtedly has a rooted fan base.

"Afflictedyard has a cult following mainly amongst Jamaicans living abroad and those here who are dot-commers (persons who are always on the internet)", Rickards told Flair.

EXCHANGE PROGRAMME

Rickards left Jamaica when he was 10 years old, to live in Toronto, Canada until eight years ago when he joined an exchange programme at a university there and made his way back to his birthplace to do a year at University of the West Indies, Mona. There he completed the final year of his first degree in History and Political Science. He then found his way to London, England with basically nothing, living what he calls "a dishevelled life". Six months later he came back to Jamaica to pursue a postgraduate degree. It was then he set up www.afflictedyard.com.

Six months before completing his second degree he says he became disillusioned and decided to put off finishing it. His next endeavor would be to begin working at a local studio doing photography. While there, he experimented with webcasting, and became one of the first persons in the country to webcast local events. Due to a fallout between himself and the studio owner, he ended up back to the place he would soon thank for a generous livelihood - his website.

It was four years ago Rickards materialised the afflictedyard vision. During the site's initial stages, he says he barely paid much attention to it. But, in the last six months he has focused all his efforts on the site and is doing exceptionally well - able to more than support himself and is getting recognition and exposure the world over.

What's next for Rickards?

He wants to start a photographic magazine to be sold on stands across the globe. Ultimately, he has his sight on moving towards books, which will lead him to his true passion - writing.

Oh, and look out for some photos he has done for Puma with a different take on some top-of-the-line djs.

-Kinisha O'Neill                                                                                                                                                                                                              NEXT PAGE