à l'allure garçonnière

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“The advent of the smartphone has usurped leisure time from the working able-bodied. According to the Critical Art Ensemble , a tactical media collective, people with smartphones are cyborgs who can be accessed at all time as autonomous 24-hour workstations. We’ve moved from a system based on the production and consumption of goods to a mystical finance capitalism. The increased virtuality of labor, not unlike the administering of biomedical technology, is meant to make life more convenient. Increased ease of life is the ideal that we assume technology fulfills. And yet as advanced capitalism has deemed the physical body an obsolete, outdated tool, the body still remains. It continues to fail under capitalist conditions and gets pathologized as illness. The body is another inconvenience that must be enhanced and optimized.”


“…the rise of the faux-vintage photo is an attempt to create a sort of “nostalgia for the present,” an attempt to make our photos seem more important, substantial and real. We want to endow the powerful feelings associated with nostalgia to our lives in the present. And, ultimately, all of this goes well beyond the faux-vintage photo; the momentary popularity of the Hipstamatic-style photo serves to highlight the larger trend of our viewing the present as increasingly a potentially documented past.”

- The Faux-Vintage Photo: Full Essay (Parts I, II and III) » Cyborgology by Nathan Jungerson

i’ve decided it’s a three-way tie for my favourite non-fiction reads of 2011. i’ll select a short quote from each of them and post them here.


Apple - Hungry Beast



Apple’s ‘Think Different’ advertising campaign. Apple surpasses Microsoft^ as the world’s number one tech company. I’m a Mac. 10 workers commit suicide at Foxconn hardware contractors in China. After an Apple enquiry, Foxconn introduces counseling, cuts worker’s weeks to 60 hours, and strings nets to catch suicide attempts. 137 Wintek (contractor) workers get sick as a result of working with the n-hexane chemical. These workers say Apple is lying when it claims that they all were since cured, and say that neither Wintek, nor Apple have paid for follow-up medical treatment.

Many of your gadgets are built on third world labour. One estimate calculated that if iPads were built by American workers, they would retail for $14, 970 each. 

iTunes blocks apps which donate straight to charities. Apple has had no philanthropic division since it was shut by Steve Jobs in 1997*. Jobs has been called to answer a class action lawsuit accusing Apple of an iTunes monopoly. Apple takes 30% of all content sold through iTunes, and has launched its subscription service, which will also take 30% from publishers. Apple freezes Adobe’s Flash out of its devices. Adobe capitulates.

1984 looks a lot like 2011.

^Microsoft discontinues its iPod competitor, the Zune.

*Apple is one of the least philanthropic companies in the world

Motion graphics by Duncan Elms. Edited by Nick McDougall. Written by Elmo Keep. 

i never know exactly how i feel about videos like these ones: videos that call attention to serious problems (mostly re: capitalism) made with flashy techniques and design and type that often end without a real call to action. and this doesn’t even begin to address the environmental impact of mining for conflict minerals that are used in all of these electronics, or the “design for the dump” mentality. in fact, this seems like more of a criciticism of apple’s hypocritical ad campaigns vs. the reality, rather than the fact that the wasteful consumer-driven world of electronics is becoming a rather unstoppable beast, in the sense that people will buy without questioning where their goods come from (as opposed to the increasing trends of informing yourself re: food and clothing choices). 

but that’s where i think part of my problem with videos like this one lies: they are designed for short attention spans, web based sharing and are often 2-3 minutes long. i don’t think you can (or should try to) address these complicated problems in that amount of time, or even in that medium. if it is a starting point for conversations in a workshop? classroom? community center? maybe. but it just never feels like enough for me because it doesn’t seem to get to the roots of the problem(s). it’s really easily to just villify one company represented by one man, as opposed to confronting the system as being the problem.

anyway. i’m reblogging this anyway because it’s definitely something that gets swept under the rug all too often.

if you’re interested in learning more, i would recommend checking out the “enough!” project (but at the same time i feel like this isn’t really all that efficient when i think the system itself is broken and i want a revolution but maybe that’s just me and you might find it helpful/inspiring). here are some other links: