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The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh 
computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the 
opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. 
Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by 
the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, 
conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step 
to reach -- if not the kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their 
document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is 
dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. 

Everyone has a right to salvation.
Umberto Eco
Mac History
Image held here 
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“So thin and light it’s a revolution!”

I'm split about this new iPad thing, or to be more accurate, it's naming 
and the attendant fuss. 

Yes, it sounds really like the name of a femine hygiene product 
(Mac's iPad, Mac's iPad, Mac's iPad, Maxipad, Maxipad, Maxipad). I think 
all the period jokes are hilarious, and it's pretty rare that period 
jokes are so widespread in media and everyday conversation. 
Hurrah for subversive women's humour! (They do seem to throw up 
certain confusion and disgust/ squeamishness in male commenters, for 
example in this CNN news item). 

There are other problems with the name too, like the fact it will surely 
be difficult to distinguish between 'iPad' and 'iPod' in certain accents; 
they sound so similar it's bound to cause confusion. But I can see why 
it wasn't called iTablet or whatever as you can't actually draw on it 
(or run one than one app at a time but that's a whole other story).
So, is it really true that no women work in Macintosh? That no one would 
have seen all this coming? It's really difficult to believe this couldn't 
have been foreseen by someone. Or does Macintosh think of women as outside 
their target market?

In the promotional video, all of the developers, marketers, and managers 
are male. The hands that type, tap, and generally caress the beautiful 
screen, and the lap that the iPad rests on are male too. In the frankly 
fantastic series of TV adverts by TWBA in the Get a Mac campaign, PC and 
Mac were both male characters (the whole campaign is viewable on Adfreak). 
Women do occasionally appear: as a marketer for PC; as a Japanese digital 
camera; a psychoanalyst; a squad of cheerleaders; a yoga instructor. 
In October 2006, Gisele Bunchen appears as a home movie created on 
Mac's iMovie, in comparison to PC's 'work in progress' - a man dressed in 
a similar dress and a poor blonde wig. (This is the kind of hyper 
stylishness and body fascism that I, maybe unfairly, associate with the 
Mac cult. The undertone of gender discrimination was new to me). 
Above is an image from the original 1984 Macintosh instruction manual 
that featured no women at all, or anyone other than white men for that 
matter.

So, I am undecided. Mac has either been extremely stupid, or extremely 
clever. As one commenter on Jezebel put it, "I think Apple is fucking 
with us to get more women engaged in the launch of its new product. 
It worked."

Exhibit A: held here
If I order this, will my boyfriend and I have to worry if it comes late? 
If me and my friends all buy one, will they sync up? Jezebel
Exhibit B: Apple instruction manual for the original 128k Macintosh, 
released in 1984, held here
"with the exception of Chapter 5, every photo shows a preppy white male 
using the computer. Women and people of color need not apply! (The dude 
in Chapter 4 even has a *sweater* around his shoulders!!!)..." 
blogged here

Exhibit C: How to Dress Like a Mac - Justin Long in the PC/ Mac TV 
adverts, 2006-9 - held here 
(the blogger notes that he 'doesn't know anything about women's 
clothes... but it seems Macintosh don't either').

And just to provide an alternative image of women and technology, 
below is Exhibit D: Part of the cowling for one of the motors for a 
B-25 bomber is assembled in California, 1942. 
Photo by Alfred T. Palmer for the FSA, held by the Library of Congress.

A good few months ago now, my laptop went to sleep and never woke up
again. My reliable, pre-Vista Vaio was no longer with me, and I thought
with some dread and fascination about crossing over to the white side,
Edenic commodity fetishism and all.

However I've been lucky enough to do this by baby steps, effectively
putting off the decision indefinitely by borrowing a friend's old,
discarded Mac. No need to make definitive decisions involving what
feels like learning another language, and paying through the
(shiny white/ matt aluminium) nose for it to boot.
I can procrastinate with a free trial first.

What's been so surprising about this is how pleasant it has been to
borrow a friend's discarded mental environment. I don't mean the
nosey impulse to comb through her hard drive: there is nothing there
and I don't want there to be. But it's oddly comforting to inherit
a screensaver image (which I haven't changed, even though I find it
hard on the eyes), a search history, a few oddments of music and an
eclectic set of favourite weblinks, organised into intriguing
subheadings (Public Space/ rainbow/ Speech/ paris/ difference engine).
It reminds me of swapping shoes with my best friend for the day when
I was a kid.

 

My recent work has involved making objects that use ‘technologies of their time’ in order to reflect on questions of memory, nostalgia and the gaps in collective histories. This has sometimes involved recording a sound or image digitally and ‘translating’ it into an analogue technology. (I know I’m treading all kinds of fine lines here).

Typically this gives the recorded image or sound a much more ‘thing’-like’ quality: unreliable memories, expressions and conversations suddenly become more solid and weighty. Vinyl acetates, 35mm slide film, magnetic VHS tape – all these technolgies are thrown into a kind of sculptural relief when imagined alongside the floating ephemera of mp3s, tiffs and jpegs. Read the rest of this entry »

the-hype-cycle.gif

This image held here

Hype cycle graphs can be sourced for consumer e-learning and a host of techie phenomena. What’s curious is what other social trends they might be applied to…

mcdermott-and-mcgough-soap-bubble-formed-at.jpg

Artist duo  McDermott and McGough currently have a retrospective exhibition on view at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (another one for the collaborative artist couples list).

From the press release: 

An Experience of Amusing Chemistry: Photographs 1990 – 1890 comprises some 120 works created using a wide range of historic photographic techniques, including the use of palladium, gum, salt and cyanotype prints. David McDermott and Peter McGough met when they were both part of the famous East Village New York art scene of the 1980s, and have since become renowned for their seamless fusion of art and life.

In a revolt against the confines of chronological time, they have built their practice through appropriating imagery and objects from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They have also assiduously reconstructed their lives as Victorian gentlemen – complete with knee britches, top hats and tail coats – immersing themselves in the environment and era in which they feel most at home, and, incidentally, dating their works accordingly.

My instinctual response to this work was unfairly and unjustifiably dismissive. I don’t think it’s the act of performative nostalgia, of literally attempting to live in the past, that spurred this displeasure. I actually think it’s the specific era that the artists chose: Victorianism is so passé. Different ‘pasts’ (that is, historical eras) go in and out of fashion like anything else. I wonder if it is simply their choice of the Victorian era that caused my nose to curl up?

The press release also claims that ‘they also subvert the obvious by incorporating homoerotic and art historical references, allowing the subject to expand outside of its time-capsule-like boundaries and to exist in relation to current cultural and artistic ideals’.

Image above: Bubble of Soap Formed at the Extremity of a Strand of Straw, 1884, 1990, palladium print. Image held here

Yesterday my laptop died. 

I am ashamed to say that I reacted to this news in a similar fashion to how I responded to a recent phonecall notification of a family death: shock (surprising myself at how well I was dealing with ‘the situation’), followed by immersion in attempts at practical problem-solving, followed by belated panic and an overdue sense of hopelessness and disorientation. 

Michael said something cool today. He said something remarkable and unprecedented has occurred to us as a species now – “We’ve reached a critical mass point where the amount of memory we have externalised in books and databases (to name but a few sources) now exceeds the amount of memory contained within our collective biological bodies. In other words, there’s more memory ‘out there’ than exists in ‘all of us’. We’ve peripheralised our essence.” *

I was haunted by the loss (of photos, music, work projects, documentation of artwork, pieces of writing, invoices, tax returns) that were embedded in this machine, not backed up. My outsourced memory was not backed up and I had no one to blame but myself. The worst part of the loss were the gaps in my inventory of the things I knew I had lost: the things I couldn’t even remember but had lost anyway. I imagined these things sitting zipped up tightly in yellow folders. These yellow folders had clearly defined edges but blurred-together names; they hovered somewhere close to the right side of my forehead but slightly above it, lost in a blind fringe. 

I awoke with a headache the day my laptop died, and it has refused to recede. I’ve had a lot of reading to do and been overtaken with anxiety since I’ve been unable to take notes except in written, paper, form. My thinking has become linear and I realise I’m not entirely used to it. The pressure to internalise all of this material and remember everything now is making my headache worse.  

After flatlining, the laptop actually responded to artificial resuscitation but I have been told that the medium-to-longterm prognosis is bad. So we are making the most of every day we have left together. 

Today I went out and bought a monstrous backup hard drive. The muscles around my cheekbones and mouth relaxed for the first time since the emergency (I hadn’t realised they had been all pinched together). I experienced a warm, flowing sensation inside my body (not pee or other bodily fluid: something much more ethereal and life-affirming).  

Your life is made up of experiences: your music, your memories, your information. As that collection grows, so does the need to save your life.** 

I am disgusted with myself for buying into this.    

* Microserfs, Douglas Coupland, 1995. ** Printed on the packaging of my new external hard drive.

collective-intelligence.jpg 

I missed the boat on this one but it’s still a great idea and worthy cause. Not to mention an interesting experiment in ‘collective intelligence’… 

There’s a lack of art/artist info on Wikipedia, and we’re often too busy to find the time to contribute. So, we’re setting aside one day where a crew of people collectively drop serious knowledge into wikipedia about art. From your favorite notable artwork, artist or exhibition, to our soon-to-be-famous peers. We’ll also add structural links to alumni schools and categories like collective art groups, non profit orgs, etc.<br>

The day is Saturday January 26th: an afternoon on the internet quietly enriching the public domain. We imagine groups of 2-4 people around tables across the country, bottomless coffee cups fueling the discussions, fact checking, and troubleshooting. Ideally lots of “oh, that person worked with X, I’ll make a page for them, link me up.” There will also be a lot of online chatting across coasts. Video chats if bandwidth permits.

Get the full info here

Image held here

‘I quit Facebook.’

This was announced to me during a lull in conversation during my lunch break yesterday. G (not the same G mentioned previously) said it with a certain determination, a certain set of the jaw, and carried through with a hint of pride. Something like the way would announce giving up cigarettes, except with more certitude and confidence, like this was a particularly nasty and worthless habit and he was particularly certain he would feel no need to return to it.

Read the rest of this entry »

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