ExPoMo-a-go-go

Paul Raven @ 19-05-2011

Another day, another newly-coined paradigm label for the unnamed (or rather polymonikered) present: this is expostmodernism [via Justin Pickard].

The force most people want to talk about is social media and wireless devices, and they are often treated as the only causes of the culture shift happening right now. But that’s a very narrow view. I see a number of major factors driving ExPoMod, including:

  • A new boogieman. The Cold War ended in the 90s. Nuclear attacks still pose a risk, but are unlikely to wipe out entire continents. Terror attacks are the new spook, and while devastating, they tend to be localized. When the world is not in danger of ending, there is less motivation for cynicism and apathy.
  • The maturing of the internet. In the early 90s, the savviest internet users were teens. The internet was a place of dubious information and anonymity. In the Oughts those users grew up and harnessed the internet professionally. Now people use their real names and information is as accurate (or more accurate) as offline sources.
  • The depreciation of privacy. Throughout the postmodern period there was a concern for privacy of personal information. Only government and corporations had the resources to collect and use repositories of personal information, and they weren’t trusted. Since the late 90s there has been increasing value to putting one’s personal information online, and increasing difficulty in keeping it private. With real advantages to sharing personal information, privacy has become a polarized issue and more people are comfortable giving it up.
  • A new type of war. The wars of the last 20 years tend to kill thousands or tens of thousands of people, a sharp contrast to the millions of dead in the World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam. Nationalism is less polarized, and discussion of war is more openly couched in economic terms.
  • Economic shift. As the housing market fails, people find less security in staying in one location. More people take advantage of the ease of travel and communication, and they spend money differently. Sectors that delivery creativity, information, technology, and experiences are seeing growth.
  • Change in education. As the price of college soars and more jobs require Master’s degrees, people increasingly seek ways to self-employ or work creatively. Many people prefer focused training through workshops, conferences and online materials to be preferable to formal institutions of higher learning. With the breadth and depth of information available online, this strategy has become a viable alternative to college for launching a successful career.

Together these factors shape a multi-generational move toward new beliefs, views and lifestyles. The single most notable shift is the decline of alienation. Alienation, the banner trait of postmodernism, occurs when an individual feels their existence has no point—either because their work provides no satisfaction, or because they don’t feel like they fit in with their community.

Not sure how much newness is in that pseudomanifesto, or that I agree with everything it says, and I definitely think “altermodern” has a better ring to it… but the sense that we’re on the cusp of a transition? Yeah, I get that. Hard to look at the news and not get that, really.


Metamanifesto (put it to the test-o)

Paul Raven @ 23-03-2011

Those readers growing tired of my own formless and constantly churning set of ideals and philosophies (or indeed those of their leaders, elected or otherwise) might be considering the assembly of their own manifesto – after all, it seems like everyone who’s anyone has a manifesto these days. Well, help is at hand; these instructions were compiled by Kim Mok [found via This Isn’t Happiness].

The Manifesto Manifesto by Kim Mok

Feel free to publish your results in the comments. Heck, if you come up with a really good one, I might become your first convert… and if that’s not an irresitable inducement to formulating an ironically coherent standpoint on everything, I don’t know what is. 😉

[ Bonus points for anyone who can call out the song reference in the post title without Googling it. ]


Dadadadadada

Paul Raven @ 16-02-2011

Old Duchamp would be proud, I like to think… though given the responses of other postmodern artists to similar events, I’m probably being overoptimistic on that point. Nonetheless, the future shows no sign of waiting for us to reach an accommodation with it, and you can now get yourself a fabbed facsimile of Marcel’s iconic “readymade” urinal museum piece [via BoingBoing].

Fabbed Duchamp urinal clone

As mentioned before, copyright on physical objects is a lost cause, though I doubt that’s going to stop a phalanx of windmill-tilting IP knights charging into battle as the terrain churns like liquid beneath the hooves of their horses, and the lawyers slip in to their vulture costumes off-stage.

And hey, 3D printers are getting pretty close to the point where they can print copies of themselves, too… so at least the futile carnage should be short lived.


Streetview, art and atemporality

Paul Raven @ 10-11-2010

I’m having a great morning for internet serendipity*, and I thought this particular synchronicitous pairing might float well here at Futurismic. First of all, Joanne “Tomorrow Museum” McNeil has an essay connected to the New Museum “Free” show that riffs on Google Streetview, daguerreotypes and atemporality:

Someday we will press a button to rewind and fast-forward through the history of Google Street View images. We will watch entire neighborhoods created, remade, destroyed, or left unchanged except in the subtlest ways. And in the course of it, we will find flashes of human experiences like the man standing with the shoeshiner in the Boulevard du Temple daguerreotype.

[…]

The future was once represented in fantastically romantic ways: white spacesuits, buildings infinite in height, interplanetary travel, alien interactions, an abundance of wealth, and robot servitude. Now the future is represented as something more compressed and accessible. The future is on the Internet, in those screens we glance at intermittently at all waking hours of the day. Our expectation is the “IRL” world will look not much unlike what we see today. It is a future of gradual changes, incorporating familiar aspects with new but not too crazy updated technology. What is in abundance is not wealth but information.

The idea of the future is now a distorted mirror. It is the future of screens. Like the daguerreotype, screens contain memory and reflection, as well as an unknown difference only discerning eyes can see. We are overfutured. We’ve reached the point where the past, present, and future look no different from one another.

The Eternal Electronically-Mediated Now; space and time mashed up into one seamless manipulable digital dimension.

And now see here [via BoingBoing]: Streetview-fed-through-Mapcrunch also helps corrode established visual stereotypes about what different countries look like. A sly rejoinder to those who claim that the web necessarily reinforces clichés: not so! It merely feeds them to those who wish to be fed. Novelty, difference, contrast… it’s all there for the finding for them as wants to look. Don’t like the time or place where you find yourself? Just Google yourself up a new reality; it’s all just raw data until we story it.

[ * A few days a friend on Twitter lamented having to choose between her love of beards and her love of cupcakes; and lo, the internet provideth. Does its pointlessness make it any less beautiful to the right person at the right moment? ]


BOOK REVIEW: JPod by Douglas Coupland

Paul Raven @ 08-09-2010

JPod by Douglas CouplandJPod by Douglas Coupland

Edition reviewed: Bloomsbury Paperbacks, 2006; ~550pp; £7.99 RRP – ISBN13: 978-0747585879

My initial response on finishing Coupland’s 2006 novel JPod was less than valedictory, but it deserves qualification: I was relieved to have finished it and glad it hadn’t eaten a large amount of my time, but I’d felt no urge to stop reading it. The fairest and truest thing to say would be that it’s not my sort of novel. Whether this is due to a sort of cultural immune-system reaction to the modern “novel of character” by a mind more accustomed to the biome of science fiction (and its defiantly non-literary concern with plot and story) is an open question. Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: JPod by Douglas Coupland”


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