Thursday, June 17, 2021

Welcome to my world, or discovering the extreme self before the extreme self was cool, or even digital

Today is the official publication date (in Europe, but not in North America) of “The Extreme Self: Age of You,” the followup to “The Age of Earthquakes” that Hans Ulrich Obrist, Douglas Coupland and Shumon Basar compiled with the collaboration of a slew of artists and designers. I’ve ordered a copy despite the fact that the shipping costs as much as the book, because (and this is increasingly characteristic) I am afraid that by the time it finally becomes available through Amazon US, I’ll have moved on to other research areas, even though this is a research area that it is impossible to move away from because it is me and how I do things in this rapidly altering era, and you and how you do things, and maybe you more than me. I remember how by the time Ernst Bloch’s “The Principle of Hope” finally became available in English, nobody, me included, felt like reading it anymore, because the circumstances that had made it seem urgently relevant had been altered beyond recognition. I joke about “you more than me” because it has just now dawned on me that although I now spend more time online than immersed in the daily-changing stacks of books that surround me, my perceptual habits haven’t shifted, just the media involved in them. I have always been influenced by the accidental juxtaposition of unsuspected relationships, books put next to each other like windows left open on a laptop screen that were originally part of completely separate searches, but that now suggest previously unsuspected causal connections that have to be evaluated as to their actual relationship to one another, because pattern recognition. (I love that now-already-dated idiom in which implicitly obvious ends of sentences are left off, making it incumbent on the reader to fill in the blank. In this case the part left out takes up roughly five thousand words, but they are words I have written so many times in the past that I assume anybody who has read this far already knows the drill.) And since I thought I was finished writing this, before posting it to the Counterforces blog and Facebook I checked my e-mails and discovered an online exhibition that opened in April that I had somehow overlooked, from Museum of Design Atlanta, “The Future Happened: Designing the Future of Music.” The “About the Exhibit” essay by Sarah Panzer does an excellent job of explaining the premises behind what I’ve written in this brief essay of my own, although it does so in terms of a completely different topic. “Examining innovation in design and technology that deepens our relationship with music, we open our eyes to new and radical narratives that have the power to transform our ways of being in the world.”

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