I read sci-fi with the understanding that it’s really about how present contradictions will play out down the line. This is unlike how technology companies visualize the future. They tend to ignore current contradictions by exacerbating everything that is wrong about the present. Here Corning dips its toe into the future stream by promoting what glass technology may look like in daily life. What I find amazing about this video is how it unselfconsciously promotes the integration of consumerism and marketing into everyday life as if it should be totally normal and desirable. Aside from representing an idealized bourgeois family that has somehow survived the current financial and ecological crisis, they seem to enjoy the absolute mediation of their lives without realizing that it is undermining the very future they desire.
Remember, friends, if we don’t envision a future, someone else will do it for us. I’d prefer if it weren’t Corning.
Is it a horror film trailer? Or an AT&T commercial? Think about it. America is strangled by a genetically engineered vine that seeks to replace all ecosystems with its own hybrid strain of radioactive mind parasite.
As the joke goes, denial ain’t a river in Egypt. With the global economy and polar icecaps in meltdown, Dubai has become a World System inferno that continues to draws moths to its flame. In what could have been scripted in a JG Ballard novel, Dubai’s latest fly trap is the monstrous tower, Burj Khalifa, twice the size of the Empire State Building, which apparently defies physics: the bottom floors are ten degrees hotter than the top ones. I guess there is evidence for heaven and hell after all.
Laura Flanders has a nice polemic to welcome it into the world (see above, or click through to read the transcript below the snip):
The engineering marvel was constructed in the desert heat by low paid immigrant workers, mostly Indians and Pakistanis, paid 5-20 dollar a day. (It’s a state secret how many lost their lives in the process.) While the state-owned construction operation suppressed worker demands and banned unions from the site, it catered to consumer fantasy with equal extravagance. The tower features 144 apartments and a hotel designed by Giorgio Armani, the Italian designer. In what’s been dubbed the “super-scraper,” the super-affluent can live and vacation without leaving the brand, or the building.
Update: I added the MSNBC report at the top because of its striking imagery. “Inferno” and “flame” were metaphoric devices, but upon seeing the video, they are quite literal. It’s striking imagery when compared to 9/11. It’s hard not to look at the Dubai tower’s exploding fireworks without remembering starker images of 2001. Who ever said that irony was dead after the WTC attack was clearly wrong.
For what it’s worth, as I wrote these words, it occurred to me that search engine bots would take my terms out of context. So to be clear, what ever robo-filters are slogging up blog posts about world affairs, none of these keywords are to suggest or advocate any acts of destruction against private property. I cannot help but sense the panoptic presence of internet surveillance. Privilege, it would seem, belongs to those who can “properly” or officially contextualize the symbolic order.
No doubt, Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi wasn’t the final word on cinematography’s powerful capacity to depict the environmental consequences of our modern world. With Manufactured Landscapes comes Jennifer Baichwal’s depiction of photographer Edward Burtynsky‘s stunning images of industry in China. If it’s true that what is not mediated doesn’t exist, we can say now that at least one frightening slice of the world, albeit a pretty massive slice, is here for us to behold. Blink at your own risk.
“This is about the novelty of the space. It allows us to get our message across visually. Our 3-D campaign has the ad kind of jumping out at you, to put a little Zappos in your day. When I’m coming through security I know that it can be frustrating and this is to provide a little lightheartedness.” – Andy Kurlander, senior marketing manager for Zappos.com.