Getting used to the future of technology…

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Most of the big brands out there are undoubtedly shaping their new tech products with an eye on the future. Few brands are going through this process as we speak… I’m looking at you, Apple!

I am reminded of this anecdote that happened to me last week. I was searching for a new laptop to buy. I was really excited to buy this new MacBook pro 2017, I was eager to leave behind my old windows. Excitement didn’t last long: I found out that this new Apple product didn’t have traditional USB ports but newcomers USB type C ports, using Thunderbolt technology.

I was shocked.

This USB anecdote could easily fit into the case-study of french philosopher and anthropologist Bruno Latour who investigates in his essay “The Missing Masses” (1992) how things prescribe behaviour upon us and upon other things. “The design of things of their physical features and functions not only prescribe actions but also ‘moralities, ethics and duties’ (Latour, 1992).

The french philosopher was also interested in the process by which humans delegate action to objects. Latour’s view of technology revolves around the idea of displacing our actions on to technology, and viceversa. “Walls are a nice invention, but if there were no holes in them there would be no way to get in or out. The problem is that if you make holes in the walls, anything and anyone can get in and out. So architects invented the door, miracle of technology.” (Latour, 1992).

In order to keep using my old USB, Apple is essentially both imposing and delegating upon me to buy a Dual USB or adaptor to make it happen…unbelievable, but necessary!?

How can you, Apple, think people not familiar with this new type of USB ports will take this big change? The only answer I can think of is that someone must kick-start the future…and who better than Apple?


 

Latour, B. (1992). Where are the missing masses, sociology of a few mundane artefacts. 1st ed. [ebook] Cambridge: Wiebe Bijker and John Law. Available at: http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/50-MISSING-MASSES-GB.pdf [Accessed 12 Apr. 2017].

Elogio al Futurismo – A praise to Futurism

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This blog entry wants to praise futurism as a revolutionary movement that helped shaping modern culture in Italy and all around the world. This entry doesn’t want to praise, in any way, the negative sides of such movement like its alignment with Fascism.

It is no news that thanks to his eccentric persona, Marinetti made Futurism a worldwide phenomenon. Selena Daly, expert in Futurism at University College Dublin praised Marinetti as a master at advertising and self-promotion. 

Marinetti’s vision of the future was built around high praise for technology and the aesthetics of modernity. Marinetti’s main purpose was to celebrate the power of speed. Indeed, Futurism pretty much kicked after Marinetti’s famous, controversial quote: “We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace. (Marinetti, 1909).

Unfortunately, Futurism became well known at the time also due to its inevitable links to fascism and Benito Mussolini. As Daly explains, “some Futurists distanced themselves from it. But others did not.” After Marinetti’s death “there were surviving Futurists who did try to keep Futurism alive, but there was a reluctance in many circles to really address this movement on its merits because of the shadow of Fascism that was hanging over it.” (Daly, 2017)

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There is no doubt that Futurists did help shape the way others in the 20th century went on to imagine what the future could look like. “BMW recently said they were influenced by the Futurist aesthetic in the design of one of their cars. The Futurist aesthetic still has a very profound influence on the language of advertising.” (Daly, 2017)

So while Marinetti’s controversial vision of the future may have been born out of a specific political moment, it continues to resonate through time.


Daly, S. (2017). How the Italian Futurists shaped the aesthetics of modernity in the 20th century. [online] The conversation. Available at: http://theconversation.com/how-the-italian-futurists-shaped-the-aesthetics-of-modernity-in-the-20th-century-73033 [Accessed 9 Apr. 2017].

The Ulm model – Aftermath

For Germany, the devastation of the war, both architectural and moral, had been so complete that the future could only be thought of as a starting point from an absolute beginning.

The Ulm model was created as a necessity to Re-shape the (undetermined) future after World War II required the world, especially Germany, to make a big step ahead and move on, for good. A more minimalistic approach through aesthetically pleasing, futuristic and modern design was taken into account as a starting point for teacher and students to share the same anti-conformist vision, by which the Ulm academy is mostly well-known for.

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This exhibition visually showed and perfectly described what the aim of Ulm designers was; The exhibition venue was formed of three floors, with no particular attention to the order of things. As the curator pointed out, this decision was made to reflect the uniqueness of the Ulm model with the intention of differentiating Raven Row’s venue itself from other “classic” venues that usually have some sort of order (which I rarely get anyway). Works by Hans Von Klier, Walter Zeischegg, Hans Gugelot and Max Bill were shown throughout the exhibition, again with no particular order, making the exhibition a bit hard to understand and lot less enjoyable than I first thought.

There is no doubt that the Ulm model gave us many cutting edge products (and designer aswell!) that led us to nowadays future: an example could be Hans Gugelot’s Braun first black/chrome shaver (1962), products of this type had previously depended upon the medical association of whites and putty colours. Gugelot’s re-design anticipated the development in 1960s of a new product sector in ‘personal grooming’; Another striking example is the visual re-branding for Lufthansa (1963) from former Ulm student Hans Conrad which, after more than half a century, is still pretty much the same.

Kapos, P. (2016). The Ulm Model. London: Raven Row.