Dec 15, 2011

8. text

Když jsem se tady před více jak měsícem zmínil o Jindřichu Honzlovi, netušil jsem, že se odhodlám a použiji zde část jeho textu. Nějakým způsobem jsem si ho oblíbil – myslím ten text. Ani nevím proč. Nebo spíše vím, ale nechci se tady pouštět do obsáhlých vysvětlení, když jde o tak krátký úryvek. Především se mi ale hodí do dvojice z videem, které jsem nedávno našel na internetu. Chci si vyzkoušet jednoduché binární spojení dvou zdánlivě obsahových a významově odlišných výpovědí, a počkat si co se stane.


Tato „moderní“ hrdinnost přešla však nakonec svůj cíl. Člověk nedobyl světa, ale svět dobyl jej. Civilizace pokročila tak, že přešla člověka a obrátila se k němu zády. Nejvyspělejší demokracie mohou s pýchou říci, že konečně dosáhly barbarského stavu lidstva. Divoch se bál věci, nad níž neměl moc. My jsme spoutáni svými výrobky, kterým jsme dali všechnu svoji moc: láska, stejně jako nenávist, je vzájemných vztazích věcí, nikoli lidí. Dílo se postavilo proti tvůrci, stroj drtí řidiče, práce ničí dělníka. Aeroplán vraždí aviatiky a chemie vynalézá plynové bomby. Mezi věcmi se potloukají se lidské osudy. Aniž si to uvědomujeme, ztrácíme všechny míry pro to, co jest lidské. Nedůvěřujeme lidem, neboť nejsme přesvědčeni o jejich lidství. Nedůvěřujeme lidem, neboť jsme jako dítě, které bito svými hračkami, přestalo věřit, že svět je tu pro jeho štěstí. Kdyby se této civilizaci narodil Shakespeare, byl by ulekanější, před lokomotivou než před lesem birnamským.
Jindřich Honzl, Základy a praxe moderního divadla, Orbis, 1963.


A teď to video. Našel jsem ho na jiném serveru než Youtube, tak publikuji pouze link. Vlastně jsou to dva linky, protože záznam je rozdělen na dvě části:<http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/18865232 

Dec 3, 2011

Text 7


Prologue

This text, or rather this set of texts, videos and pictures, will for the first time not include an UNBOXING video. Not that I don’t have anything more to add with respect to this phenomenon, but during the course of examining and scrutinising it I came across some interesting material which says something about contemporary means of production in a way that is different, but perhaps just as interesting. It happened more or less by accident, in fact. While I was looking for another UNBOXING video I chanced upon a cover version of a Beyoncé song: Best Thing I Never Had. To begin with I wanted to skip over it and click on another link, but something grabbed my attention. Even though it was another amateur or semi-amateur video, there was something different about it. It wasn’t the sort of performance someone had recorded in their living room, bedroom or secretly in their bathroom, the kind of thing you watch when you want to amuse yourself at somebody’s expense. I started to watch and especially to listen closely. I was watching a seated woman singing into a condenser microphone, wearing studio quality headphones. The picture quality and camera work were also good. Everything was clear and intelligible. And, above all, it was no longer ridiculous. Horribly symptomatic, more like. I was surprised, and so I searched on and on and found hundreds and hundreds of cover versions of this composition. The same song every time, the same notes, the same intonation, the same technology, but in a different house, with other objects and other bodies. It’s basically the same thing over and over, the same song, but why not perform it, properly. Because it’s actually the best thing I’ve ever heard, wanted and had.


In electronics, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC or D-to-A) is a device that converts a digital (usually binary) code to an analog signal (current, voltage, or electric charge). An analog-to-digital converter (ADC) performs the reverse operation. Signals are easily stored and transmitted in digital form, but a DAC is needed for the signal to be recognized by human senses or other non-digital systems.¹

She wrapped the present for Mum in a page from a lifestyle magazine. But it was not a leaf torn out at random. She had selected it because of the photograph of a woman’s hand with a large gold ring. She remembered that Mum wore a similar one. She took it off every time before cooking, putting it to one side. Once she had finished and put everything away she put it on her finger again.

Beyonce - Best Thing I Never Had (Hannah Trigwell cover)


I am not an audiophile. Audiophiles love audio and equipment, but rarely music. An audiophile is someone who can't listen for more than a few minutes before stopping to change capacitors or swap cables. Audiophiles spend more on equipment than they spend on music and concerts. They will own dozens of different headphones, cables and amplifiers, and receive their pleasure from fiddling with all this gear. Audiophiles listen to their gear, instead of the music. Audiophiles just as often are listening to recordings of thunderstorms or locomotives, while I, as one professional studio musician shared with me, enjoy great music even if it's coming over a 3" speaker. I know good reproduction, but it's ultimately all about the music, not the hardware. If I let myself get caught up in the hardware, I'd have no time to enjoy music. I've only owned three sets of headphones over the past 35 years: My Koss 4AA that I got in the 1970s, my Beyer DT 990 (600 Ohm) that I bought in 1988, and now this Sennheiser HD 800. I still have my Koss, which were rebuilt by Koss for free under their lifetime warranty in 1995 and work great today. I have enjoyed my Beyer DT 990 continuously since 1988.²
THIS IS AMAZING,KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK.
I LOVE IT!! ARGHH I CAN'T WAIT FOR 4!!
B.E.A.U.T.I.FU.L
Beyonce... I like your new song "Best thing I never had"! I think it suits you more than your previous single...I wish you luck! =)
i cantwait for the album to come ouy just know b i will be buying it
i love you beyonce. this song is a grower i hope it will be a huge ballad. i cant wait for till the end of time. i hope that one is a songle too.
i love it beyonce is surly going to rule the world with this song
THIS SONG IS JUST AMAAAZING; IT IS PERFECT: LOVE IT AND LOVE YOU QUEEN B
OMG Beyoncé I looooveee it, and I loooooooooooooveeeeeeeeeeeee her voice is wondderful
King B i like that lol I love my QUEEN
coming to Colombia please
YIRA ARIAS
Perfect song (y) Queen~Diva ßeyonce.
Queen*ß.
You’re at the top of your game for good reason…you continue to raise the bar! Cheers King B:-)
Another one =) i love it, I get an eerie feeling she's referring to Jay :/ lol Good job B, keep em coming!

I love this song!! I love the beat too!! YYAAAAYYY!!! The ablum drops in my B~Day month but my b~day is 2morrw!! Maybe I'll get the album for a late birthday gift!!! =D³

Beyoncé - Best Thing I Never Had (AlFord Cover - Chords in description)


kajak12/Mario or other 1541 dac users may explain further, but the Philips TDA1541 was the second generation DAC chip following the mother of all DACs the original TDA1540. The TDA1541 is very common to 1990's Marantz and Philips cdps from $299-$3K+ and found in several other British machines of that era. It is really just a dac chip like any other dac chip. However, over time I think people have come to realise that CD technology has not really gone very far, and that the old TDA1541 is still a very nice sounding DAC chip, some would argue its the best of them all? It is no longer made, hence its collectability and cult status.⁴

She wrapped the present for her father in paper with photographs of lions. Her father understood what she meant by that and was pleased that during her childhood and adolescence she had perceived him as the person who provided her with support and security.

Huu - Best thing i never had (Beyonce Cover) THE 100Th VIDEO + SHOUT OUT


After opening the cardboard box the new owner sees a very similar case to the one housing the HD600 and HD650 headphones. It’s a nice case lined with a fabric that’s pleasing to the eye and pleasant to the touch. I decided that I would put them back in it after each listening session, so they wouldn’t get dusty or damaged. The soft lining keeps them snug and in fine fettle. As for the construction, design and craftsmanship, it’s well known that people fall into several different camps. Some don’t like them at all, others like them a lot, and a small proportion of people remains unmoved by their appearance. I’m not going to try to conceal that I belong among the admirers. Having checked them out carefully, hands-on, I certainly don’t have any misgivings. The headphones are real whoppers and the large transducers look magnificent.⁵
i love it!!!!
KING B FOR LIFE!!!!!!!!!
I love you B
Loooove ittt, can't wait for "4" to come out, queen B is back! You are unbelievable, keep up the great work! I love you
This song is amazing Beyonce, I loves it
As usual I love everything Beyonce releases!!!!! This will be the best album yet!!!!! Beautiful song that I can really relate to.
D'Aaron
I can't wait for Beyonce's album to be released!!!!! I have it marked on my calander
LOVE IT! I don't think I can hate anything B puts out, she's AMAZING!!!!!
XOxoxoxoxo!!!!! luv all ur songsss
Awesome.. I, too, am excited for this album to come out.. Thank you for sharing with us your gift of music as it continues to inspire us all to push and strive to be the best.

Love the new sound. It's always good to see and hear an artist continue to grow and come up with new sounds. As a music lover of all genres, I will say I am really pleased with the 3 tracks I have heard thus far and look forward to new album "4." It is always "right" to continue to make music that goes along with what's out there now. So to hear Beyonce' step out and embrace something new as a fan I appreciate that and hope all of her fans do as well. Thanks Beyonce' for more great music and may GOD continue to bless you and guide you.

"Best Thing I Never Had" - Beyonce (cover)


My bet was TDA1541A, for its romantic tone and unbeatable dynamics. It also in my view never fit well tube output stages, so I believe that my output stages are great match, especially for their sonic features associated with their absence of feedback at one, and exceptional linearity at the other side. And once I found myself into it, I understood that working with the same part in the longer terms is beneficial: you realize its properties, needs and requirements, and thus the best way to use it.⁷

He’s a year and a half old. He’s sitting on the parquet floor wearing a nappy and a short t-shirt, his bare feet are stretched out in front of him and he’s playing with a little box. Several days ago he was given a toy BMW, a little blue car, which he fell in love immediately. He’s trying to put the little toy car back into its box but he’s not having much success. Each time he tries it the lid jams, preventing the car from going in any further. And that’s making him upset. Slowly he begins to realise that he needs to hold the lid open with one hand and slide the car in with the other. After making several attempts he manages to get the BMW inside. Now he just has to learn to close the box. That’s not easy either, but in the end he succeeds. But that’s important! A little while later he decides to open the package once again and take the car out. It doesn’t take long before his hand is extracting the object. The moment the toy car is out of the box, he shrieks with delight as if seeing it for the first time. He is squealing and his eyes are seeking Dad, sitting somewhere opposite.

Will Dailey - "Best Thing I Never Had" (cover)


He showed them a photo of a car parked somewhere in London and said the English word “diagonally”. It was like a gun had gone off. They perked up immediately and repeated quizzically: “Diagon Alley”. They were taken by surprise and after a while Kirschner repeated: diagonally. To which they said: “You know where that is?” or “Can you tell us where it is?” Kirschner gave up and so it was left up to me. Pronunciation! Of course! What else! Kirschner wanted to say “diagonal” in Czech – diagonála – but instead it came sounding like “Diagon Alley” in English. Which is the place where Harry Potter goes shopping in London.
Amazing! I love it!!!
Vaneee!
I LOVE THIS SONG B. I CAN'T WAIT TO BUY THE CD ON 06/28/11. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GIRL, LOVE YA!!
I LOVEEEEEEEEEE THIS SOOOOOOOOONGGGGGGGGGGGGG OMG
Robyn G Neymour - Royale Nybor
Love it!
OMG! I LOVE THIS SONG BEYONCE!!!!!! KING B!
DAMNNNN KING B!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS????
Oh this song makes me feel optimist . Thanks Beyonce for making music.You are just wonderful.
GOD bless you.
Awesome Beyonce, AWESOME!
For any woman that's ever been broken-hearted, this what tha deal is! This song is such a beautiful capture of when a woman has come to a positive place of acceptance & recovery from the pain of a love lost =) I know this song will resound in the hearts of women & men throughout the world. ((I can't wait for her next tour. I HAVE to make it to a show!))
LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
B, you are teasing me!! Can't wait.
SweetBlackHoney

Beyonce ROCKS⁸

Beyonce-Best Thing I Never Had Cover

Hi Terry,
I’ve already managed to lower distortion and feedback down to 0.00%, or thereabouts. Do you know if I can get that figure down even lower? The thing is, my output is limited by a TDA 1541 A converter. I haven’t tried it with the new Delta/Sigma converters yet, but it’s in the pipeline.
Pedja


¹en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_to_analog_convertor; 21. 6. 2012.
²www.kenrockwell.com/audio/sennheiser/hd800.htm; 21. 6. 2012.
³⁸www.beyonceonline.com/us/news/new-single-best-thing-i-never-had-beyonc%C3%A9%E2%80%99supcoming-album-4-listen; 25. 6. 2012.
⁴http://www.stereo.net.au/forums/index.php?/topic/17198-tda-1451a/page__hl__%2Btda+%2B1451a; 25. 6. 2012.
⁵forum.avmania.e15.cz/viewtopic.php?f=1712&t=1091706&sid=d5fd34f8962a93b1ecab890d83713e03; translated by Marek Tomin; 13. 11. 2011

⁷www.audialonline.com/blog/; 26. 11. 2011; 25. 6. 2012.


Další fotografie digitálně analogového převodníku Philip TDA 1451 A najdete na: lampizator.eu.

Nov 19, 2011

Předzvěst č. 1 a Třetí skupina předmětů



Předevčírem Radim Langer publikoval na blogu 207-čky tuhle recenzi; a i když je trošku sebestředné ji zde zavěsit, přesto to udělám. Sám jsem se pokoušel něco napsat, ale nějak se mi to nešlo a tak raději použuji cizí text. A za druhé, Radim pochopil přesně o co mi jde; nemám nic, co bych dodal.



V pokušení nakousnutého jablka

Jiří Skála se již nějakou dobu profiluje v pozici konceptuálně uvažujícího umělce (ale i někdejšího člena týmu kolem galerie Etc.)jak na domácí české scéně, tak v užším mezinárodním kontextu. Jeho práci prostupuje tázání se po smyslu materiální formy umění a jeho následného chápání prostřednictvím vyjadřovacích možností textu nebo videa, jejichž technická stránka slouží výhradně maximálnímu předvedení obsahové materie zkoumaného problému. Zdvojená podoba předložené problematiky, která jej zajímá nyní, a kterou v obráceném sledu (nejprve výstava mimo galerii – potom prezentace v galerii) připravil pro galerii 207, se odehrála nejprve v mlžné podzimní atmosféře Letenského parku a následně před galerií 207. Malý hlouček zuby drkotajících diváků stanul na úpatí rozlehlé stráně a v mlhavé kotlině mohl spatřit osamělý pár. Muž-fotograf a žena-modelka usazená na lavičce, která lačně pózuje černé krabičce jeho černého fotoaparátu. Téměř záhadná scéna bez prvotního vysvětlení. Po chvíli akce končí odchodem diváků do galerie 207. V galerii pak Skála pověsil už jen text, který vyprávěl o události, kterou diváci předtím zhlédli v Letenském parku. Před galerií následně představil svůj nový objekt zájmu. Tím je vytváření blogu tzv. unboxingu. Blog obsahuje Jiřím vybraná videa stažená z webové stránky youtube.com, která jsou prostoupena texty. Texty jsou opět Jiřím Skálou manipulované překlady z angličtiny, které jsou vášnivými uživateli vyvěšovány právě na zmíněný blog unboxingu. Občas jde také přímo o text Jiřího Skály. Celá prezentace projektu se odehrála na principu autorského čtení za spolupráce ještě jednoho hlasu navíc a čtení bylo prokládáno pouštěním videí, která ukazovala nové vlastníky výrobků značky Apple, jak poprvé stanou tváří v tvář objektu své touhy.

Nač Jiří Skála naráží? Určitá souvislost tkví už v události nebo situaci, která byla jaksi lakonickou ilustrací klasické představy objektu touhy. Cudný erotismus focené modelky a fotografující muž, který chce vlastnit alespoň obraz svého modelu. A právě zde se nachází první indicie k možnému čtení Skálova příběhu. Krabička nazývaná běžně jako fotoaparát je onou „předzvěstí“ následné „třetí skupiny. Věci plné digitálních obrazů. Neustále nově vyvíjené modely, po kterých máme toužit, a s nimiž máme trávit téměř všechen svůj čas, jak pracovní tak soukromý. Zcela nás pohlcuje jejich vzhled a logo nakousnutého jablka nám má zajistit fiktivní upevnění pozice v hierarchii společenského žebříčku. Jiří Skála nám navíc tento fenomén ukazuje na jedné z nejnovějších verzí iPadu od Applu. Zrcadlem je objekt touhy sám. Nejtenčí verze velikosti sešitu A4, přiznaný design. Umění samo je vlastně zbaveno jakékoli jiné závislosti na materiálu. Vše je podrobeno téměř klinicky čisté analýze, která ovšem obsahuje onu absurdní a úsměvnou skutečnost obětí lapených do osidel titanové krásy technologií. Text s téměř beletristickou formou ilustruje soukromé příběhy nových majitelů těchto zázraků počítačové technologie zabalených mnohdy se vší pompézností do lesklých krabic a matných igelitek se stříbrným jablkem. Umělec sám čerpá onu výslednou podobu formy složenou z textů a obrazů z modernistického principu koláže, skládá do sebe fragmenty digitální současnosti s podobnými ambicemi, jako modernisté pracovali s formami textových a vizuálních médií reprodukce a fotografie počátkem prvních dvou desetiletí 20. století.

Jiří Skála pro sebe postupně objevuje svět zakletých simulaker (viz. Simulakrum: vyprázdněný obraz, pouhá forma bez obsahu, ikona, nápodoba). Pojem simulakrum je spojen především se jménem filosofa Jeana Baudrillarda, který jeho chápání rozšířil na virtuální kopii neexistujícího originálu – realita reálnější nežli skutečnost, tzn. hyperrealita, která nás s digitálními obrazy obestupuje tím úžeji, čím více se oddáváme jejím digitálním zprostředkovatelům. Materiální redukce, kterou Jiří Skála uplatňuje, je prostředkem k vytváření mnohem silnějších sociálních vazeb mezi hranicemi umění, života a produkcí.

Radim Langer

Nov 17, 2011

Presentace blogu proběhla 14. listopadu na Vysoké škole umělecko průmyslové, v takzvané 207-čce.

Foto Ivera Schovancová, Viktor Čech a především Alexandra Vajd.













Nov 15, 2011

Intermezzo č.2

Zdá se, že mi předchozí přestávka nestačila…

Už se nemůžu dočkat až tenhle příspěvek dokončím a zveřejním. Nutí mě k tomu nepřekonatelná touha Vám vše vysvětlit; a taky ještě něco jiného, ale to se dozvíte až na konci. Především chci tady napsat, co si myslím a proč si to myslím. Asi proto, že mám dojem, že tenhle blog začíná dostávat, příspěvek od příspěvku, přesnější podobu. A tak se pokusím, nejen sám pro sebe, ale i pro Vás, napsat několik důvodů, proč tomu tak je. Ověřit si, jestli si něco nenalhávám. Což bych nerad.

Proč píšu? Proč se neustále snažím překonat to tápání a nevědomém chození v začarovaném kruhu nekonkrétních pocitů? Mám na mysli vlastní neschopnost vše nějak uchopit, seřadit do správné konstelace. Takovou, za kterou bych se nemusel stydět. Vlastně se ve všech textech opakuji. Neustále popisuji v jemných variantách to samé – neschopnost si sednou k počítači a mít v hlavě přesnou představu, co chci napsat, co chci zdělit.

Pokaždé se toho zbavím psaním. To jediné mám ověřené. Zároveň v okamžiku, když se tak stane a mám to za sebou, kdy se konečně z těch otupujících střetů myšlenek a nekonkrétních pocitů dostanu a vypíšu se z nich; tak nevím, co s tím. Je to něco, co je mi vlastní. Musím se toho zbavit, jinak začínám… jinak vím, že mě nebude číst. Z tohohle důvodu jsem začal používat formu koláže. Právě proto, abych neupadal do neustále potřeby se ze všeho vypsat a přitom nevědět jak to udělat. Nepřišlo to jen tak; vykrystalizovalo mi to mezi prsty na klávesnici, jakoby nic, v mírných náznacích, v několika odstavcích. Tak se mi tenhle blog stal místem reflexe toho co je mimo mě, než co je uvnitř mě samotného. Což se přesně to, co jem potřeboval.

Ze zpětného pohledu si myslím, že jsem při psaní byl inspirován texty Jindřicha Honzla. Především těmi, které se týkají jeho působení v Divadélku pro 99, kde vytvořil několik recitačních pásem z převzatých textů.

Již v roce 1939 bylo ustaveno Divadélko pro 99 (tj. pro 99 diváků); na jeho programu se objevovala recitační pásma a dramatické montáže, při jejichž inscenacích byla akcentovaná jazyková výstavba promluvy a herecký projev. Jindřich Honzl, který stál v čele skupiny mladých herců Divadélka pro 99, se zaměřil nejprve k inscenování lyrických  pásem, v nichž recitační projev byl  postupně zbavován své samostatnosti a stával se součástí dramatického útvaru, sestávajícího také ze složky  pohybové, výtvarné, hudební i filmové. […] Vyvrcholení  Honzlovy tvorby z okupace přestavují dramatické montáže, nový druh komorního divadelního projevu, který logicky vyplynul z předcházejících inscenačních pokusů. Podle  Honzla: ,,dramatická montáž chce vytvořit literární látky pro divadelní produkci z dokumentů, z autentických dopisů, z literárních odkazů, z vyprávění současníků, z obrazů i z literárních děl…“
(www.ucl.cas.cz/edicee/data/dejiny/hcl/dcl4/30.pdf; 13. 11. 2011)

Již při vzniku blogu jsem myslel na možnost texty a videa ukázat naživo, jako přednášku, performance, či happening. Rozhodl jsem se inspirovat právě Honzlem a vytvořit několik akcí, které budou vycházel, jak z toho, co o jeho práci vím, tak navazovat na mé předešlé pokusy o čtené slovo ve veřejném prostoru.

No a ještě jedna věc, když jsem na začátku napsal, že už se nemůžu dočkat, až tohle zveřejním, myslel jsem tím, že mě v několika dnech čeká, první presentace tohohle blogu, chci si ověřit všechno, co jsem tady napsal, jestli to funguje, jak si představuju, a tak. Snad jo.

Nov 3, 2011

iPhone 4, first impressions at the London Apple Store

6. text

Je to nějaký rok zpátky, co jsem jel tramvají do centra a vystoupil na zastávce nedaleko Palačáku. Jak jsem se, více či méně úspěšně, pokoušel vyhnout ostatním, začal na mě někdo mluvil a obsedantně až agresivně mi něco přikazovat. Úlekem jsem se otočil a uviděl muže v tričku a kraťasech. Naštěstí to nebylo na mě, ale na někoho v telefonu. Dlouhými kroky mě obešel a zamířil na náměstí. Podle toho, co jsem zaslechl, šel pozdě na schůzku, právě na otevřené prostranství před námi. Zadíval jsem se tím směrem a zahlédl ženu čekající u vchodu do metra. „To bude ona“ – řekl jsem si. Stála s rukama založenýma do sebe, s jednou nohou vykročenou. „To bude ještě zajímavé“ – dodal jsem a začal hledal místo odkud budu sledovat nezadržitelně se blížící hádku. Stoupnou jsem si nedaleko a předstírat, že čekám na tramvaj. Oba se celou dobu drželi na dva kroky od sebe a neuroticky kroužili okolo. Žena s pažemi v bok, požadovala po muži omluvu za to, že přišel pozdě a za to jak s ním mluvil po telefonu. Muž rozhazoval rukama a odmítal připustit, že není pánem situace; trval na své nevině. Netrvalo to ani dvě minuty a žena se po posledním nevyslyšené výzvě otočila a sešla po schodech dolů do metra.

BlackBerry Bold 9700 WHITE unboxing

Oct 21, 2011

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Thank you Steve Jobs, from the bottom of my heart. Without your mastermind what would the brilliant Carrie Bradshaw have wrote her column on. Where my SATC fans at? You know we have seen this scene far too often. Carrie restlessly typing away as she stares out the window at the picturesque New York skyline. How perfect is this? Typical Carrie. I can hear her now, "Later that day I got to thinking..." Then when her beloved motherboard crashed and Aidan came to the rescue. It was a sad day in Carrie Bradshaw Land! The thought of no more of Carrie's ingenius writings being brought to the readers of NYC saddens me to this day. Never fear, Aidan saved the day. Of course Carrie was broker than broke back mountain from buying too many pairs of Manolos so Aidan bought her new MacBook which she hated, returned and went back to her prehistoric MacBook g3 powerbook.¹

Really there was no brief. But the really funny thing was the only direction we got from Steve Jobs is: "don't make it cute". ... We presented two versions of the logo. One with and one without the bite. Just in case he thought the bite was too cute. Fortunately he went with the one that gave it the most personality with the bite. ...²

He bought his first Mac in 1999. In a second-hand shop near Wenceslas Square. He was twenty three years old. He brought it home and placed the various parts on the table. It was called a Power Macintosh 7300. He’d used a similar one at secondary school. He ran his fingers over the surface of the keyboard, touched the mouse incredulously, tried pressing the buttons on the CD-ROM and floppy disk drives. He still couldn’t believe it. He made greasy smudges on the monitor with the tip of his index finger. He was fascinated by the grey plastic casing with its slightly grainy surface. He couldn’t get enough of it. The logo with its colour stripes on the front side of the computer and monitor, directly above the model insignia, was probably the thing he liked most about it. It was just a centimetre in diameter and was shaped like an apple with a bite taken out of it.

Power Mac G3 B/W unboxing

Over the fireplace was a single picture, at which Soames glanced mechanically. What! Chinese! A large whitish sidelong monkey, holding the rind of a squeezed fruit in its outstretched paw. Its whiskered face looked back at him with brown, almost human eyes. What on earth had made his inartistic cousin buy a thing like that and put it up to face his bed?³

Well, I'm probably the least religious person, so Adam and Eve didn't have anything to do with it. The bite of knowledge sounds fabulous, but that's not it. And, there is a whole lot of other lure about it. Turing the famous supposed father of computer science who committed suicide in the early 50's was british and was accused of being homosexual, which he was. He was facing a jail sentence so he committed suicide to avoid all that. So, I heard one of the legends being that the colored logo was an homage to him. People think I did the colored stripes because of the gay flag. And, that was something really thought for a long time. The other really cool part was that apparently he killed himself with a cyanide laced apple. And, then I found out Alan Turing's favorite childhood story was Snow White where she falls asleep forever for eating a poisoned apple to be woken up by the handsome prince. Anyway, when I explain the real reason why I did the bite it's kind of a let down. But I'll tell you. I designed it with a bite for scale, so people get that it was an apple not a cherry. Also it was kind of iconic about taking a bite out of an apple. Something that everyone can experience. It goes across cultures. If anybody ever had an apple he probably bitten into it and that's what you get. It was after I designed it, that my creative director told me: "Well you know, there is a computer term called byte". And I was like: "You're kidding!" So, it was like perfect, but it was coincidental that it was also a computer term. At the time I had to be told everything about basic computer terms.

Unboxing: Mac mini

He also bought his second Mac in a second-hand shop. In 2003. This time it was in Žižkov. His old Mac was already rather worn and outdated. He needed something slightly newer. Well, and a year before that he’d seen the new laptops while on a year-long study trip abroad. So he’d set his heart on one. Finally, after several months of searching, he came across a used PowerBook in Žižkov. He managed to get the salespeople on his side and they sold it to him with a discount. They had no idea what they actually had in their possession. This thing had been lying there for several months and nobody had wanted it. So they wanted to get rid of it. He brought the computer home and once again he was fascinated. Especially by the fact that he could carry it around with him; it hardly weighed anything. It was made of mat grey titanium. The logo was on the outside of the monitor; when he opened the computer and switched it on, it lit up. He sat around with the laptop on the bed and at the table, turning it round so that he could see the bright silhouette of the apple from all sides.

Stripping the coverings off the picture, Fleur brought it in, and setting it up on the jade-green settee, stood away and looked at it. The large white monkey with its brown haunting eyes, as if she had suddenly wrested its interest from the orange-like fruit in its crisped paw, the grey background, the empty rinds all round — bright splashes in a general ghostliness of colour, impressed her at once.


I discovered my appetite for writing right about the same time that the first season of Sex and the City started airing. Naturally, Carrie Bradshaw became my idol almost overnight. Even now, 12 years hence, I still have to consciously avoid Bradshaw-ish euphemisms when I’m (supposedly) free writing; the character’s influence on me is that great. Now, Carrie has always had a Mac. From the PowerBook to the iBook G3 Clamshell to the Macbook Pro – you name it, she’s had it. Because of that, I’ve always associated Macs as a ‘writer thing’, and I have drooled and fantasized about owning one since, thinking that it’s going to make a better writer out of me, or at least, inspire me enough to write more. The moment I could afford it, I got my first Mac, with the second – and current – one hard on its heels. And true enough, the switch did inspire me to write more and write better, probably because I no longer had to suffer the constant headaches that my PCs and netbooks of old used to plague me with.

Tech : 20th Anniversary Mac (TAM) UnBoxing & First Boot

He acquired his third Mac in 2006 when the motherboard on his G4 packed up. He was reluctant to part with the computer, but nothing could be done about it. In the repair shop he learnt that to have it repaired would come to about two thirds of the price of buying a new one. That decided it. Even this next purchase was something new, something he’d not experienced before. For the first time he was in possession of a brand new computer. He no longer felt like going from one second-hand shop to another, or looking for the best offers in the small ads sections. Also, Macs were now a lot cheaper. He decided to get another laptop. And so he bought a MacBook with a thirteen inch display. Finally he could unpack the computer for the first time himself. He brought the box home and for several minutes just looked at it. He turned it round in his hands, examining it from all sides. Finally he took the plunge and with a shaky hand he cut through the sticky tape. He took out the white paper fabric bag and a white object slid out – a monolithic rectangular prism with rounded corners, its top dominated by the outline of a bitten apple, it had a CD-ROM slit on the side and a number of ports for USB, FireWire etc. He gawped at the shape in disbelief and it seemed unreal to him. Several times he tried to open it, but each time the two sides snapped back together again; it took him a little while before he succeeded. His fingers glided over the keyboard several times, then over the touchpad and after that he softly pressed the on button.

“Why, it’s a perfect allegory, sir! Eat the fruits of life, scatter the rinds, and get copped doing it. When they’re still, a monkey’s eyes are the human tragedy incarnate. Look at them! He thinks there’s something beyond, and he’s sad or angry because he can’t get at it. That picture ought to be in the British Museum, sir, with the label: ‘Civilisation, caught out.’”

It's a real unique experience that still makes my day whenever I see it unexpectedly. You're watching a movie or tv and usually when they have a cool character they'll have a laptop with an Apple logo on it, like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. I've done a lot of traveling and early on when the logo still had multicolored stripes on it I was in China and there it was on a billboard somewhere. It was Chinese script that I couldn't read, but something that came out of my head was up there for all to see and to interpret. It's kind of a personal thing. It's kinda like having a kid. You're very proud of it.

Unboxing: MacBook Pro 2011 Core i7, 4GB of Ram, 128GB SSD

He bought his last Mac three years ago. He came up with more or less convincing reasons to justify the purchase. Firstly, he’d dropped his old computer on the floor, and although nothing had happened to it and it continued to function flawlessly, this incident made him rather nervous. Another reason was the back pain caused by working with a laptop for long periods. Also, he was tired of forever carrying the computer from one place to another. So he decided to heed the advice of his doctor and procure a desktop instead of a laptop. And so he sold his old MacBook and bought an iMac. This time he didn’t go to a shop, instead ordering it on the internet. Having done so he could hardly wait until the following day when the parcel delivery guy would arrive, ring the bell and hand him the box with the computer. Then it actually happened and he took delivery from the postman of a bulky and quite heavy box which he carried upstairs to the third floor. Once he’d set the package with the device down on the floor in the hallway he immediately ran into the kitchen for a knife. Quickly he cut through the adhesive tape on top of the box and opened it. He pulled out the keyboard, mouse and installation CDs. Next he took out the polystyrene protecting the computer from mechanical shock and finally the main object itself. He put it down on the floor in the hallway. He unfastened the paper sleeve so that he could slide it off and as he did so the black panel of the monitor encased in a textured, machined processed aluminium frame began to reveal itself to him. It this seemed to levitate on an aluminium base. Beneath the display, the black silhouette of a bitten apple stared at him. He was looking at it and at the object and saying to himself that he’d never owned anything as lovely before and that he was definitely going to keep this computer without ever wanting another. And so he stood there with his eyes fixed on the object of his desire.

¹Keepitclassyalabama.blogspot.com/2011/10/how-i-am-relating-death-of-steve-jobs.html; 19. 6. 2012.
²⁵⁹Creativebits.org/interview/interview_rob_janoff_designer_apple_logo; 19. 6. 2012.
³John Galsworthy, A Modern Comedy, http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/g/galsworthy/john/white/chapter10.html; 19. 6. 2012.
⁴Creativebits.org/interview/interview_rob_janoff_designer_apple_logo; 19. 6. 2012.
⁵John Galsworthy, A Modern Comedy; http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/g/galsworthy/john/white/chapter17.html; 19. 6. 2012.
⁶Goddess-i-am.com/tag/carrie-bradshaw/; 19. 6. 2012.
⁷John Galsworthy, A Modern Comedy; http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/g/galsworthy/john/white/chapter17.html; 19. 6. 2012.
⁸Creativebits.org/interview/interview_rob_janoff_designer_apple_logo; 19. 6. 2012.

Oct 9, 2011

iPhone 5 Unboxing and Review

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Už delší dobu mám problém najít na Youtube UNBOXINGové video s mobilním telefonem. Není tam nic natočené pouze z čisté radosti. Několikrát jsem se o to pokoušel, ale nepovedlo se mi to. Vždy jsem objevil něco, co se tvářilo jako UNBOXING, ale ve skutečnosti to byla reklama. Pokaždé je to stejné – nějaký muž vybaluje mobil a bez vzrušení, bez jediného záchvěvu nervozity se do kamery snaží předmět ukrytý pod vrstvou kartonu a plastu, co nejvíce vychválit a nekriticky adorovat. Je to takový internetový teleshoping. Jedině u fanoušků Applu jsem se setkal s tím, že přes velké množství komerčního UNBOXINGu stále natáčejí své první setkání s jejich novým miláčkem. No, a protože teď je na světě nový iPhone, dokonce ve dvou variantách, rozhodl jsem se najít na Youtube nějaký UNBOXING s tímhle mobilem. Co se ale proti mému očekávání stalo, našel jsem pouze parodie. Minuty a hodiny míjely a já neobjevil žádné UNBOXINGové video s novým iPhonem. Nakonec jsem zjistil, proč. Jako spousta dalších zvědavců jsem zadal do vyhledávače heslo: „UNBOXING iPhone 5“. Poslední typ se jmenoval „4“ a tak jsem jeho následovníku logicky přiřkl číslo „5“. Což byla chyba. Nový iPhone se totiž jmenuje „4S“. Po tomhle nedorozumění jsem zkoušel hledat dál; ale zase marně. Nenašel jsem nic zajímavého. Publikuji zde proto tu nejpovedenější parodii.

Oct 6, 2011

Lehmann Audio Black Cube Linear unboxing

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So... how did I get from industrial machines to electronics. Actually... this blog was originally supposed to be about audio; about equipment with brand names such as Mark Levinson, McIntosh and Accuphase. These amplifiers and preamplifiers immediately attract our attention – with their front panels with knobs and buttons, potentiometers, analogue or digital indicators of the left, right channel... There’s something about them reminiscent of machine tools, lathes and horizontal drills.

The L-590AX did the magic and completely erased the loudspeakers from my listening room so that with my eyes closed I was not able to identify their positions. Instead, I could identify the musicians within the three-dimensional soundstage and that was why (with the lights still dimmed) the listening turned out to be a be-there experience. As if the L-590AX could render also the cigarette smoke, heavy curtains and a worn out carpet, fingers dancing on strings and the ice, slowly melting in the last glass of whisky.¹


With their dangerously looking corners and branched coolers jutting out into space they really are reminiscent of industrial machines. In reality they’re merely consumer goods - like motorcycles, sports cars and pleasure boats; just like them they’re a source of joy and a symbol of social status. Even so, there’s something here... something that makes them different... these goods are capable of creating a semblance of reality. That’s why I myself refer to them as machines, even though they do not manufacture anything, but merely reproduce compositions from a record, tape, CD or MP3 device.

Have you ever had a chance to listen to a plucked double-bass from the distance, let’s say, of 1 meter? If your answer is yes then you would probably agree that it is not just the deep strumming sound we all know from our home audio systems but that it is very palpable. One can see the effort a player has to put into the plucking a string a when he does than the mighty THUNG! shudders a room. Well, such a THUNG!… The guitar that joins the track at around  2´50 is precisely outlined and introduces delicate details like microresonances of strings, resonating bodies of instruments or a soft hiss of an analogue master tape. We travel against the flow of time to the age when digital silence did not exist and one could listen to the breaks between songs.²


In order for audiophiles to be able to listen to their favourite song they need a source of audio signal, in other words a gramophone, CD player or computer, a device to amplify it, i.e. an amplifier, and equipment to reproduce the sound, i.e. loudspeakers. This is known as framing. It’s like looking at an empty space bordered by a beautiful steel frame. The whole situation is as follows: a room and in it a sound system, opposite a seat, and as a general rule one or more men. They are listening to music, staring into the space in front of them. Their eyes are scanning the surfaces of the devices. They’re examining each element of the player, the amplifier, the speakers; and they’re dissatisfied. They were expecting something to happen, that reality would vanish and instead members of Kiss would appear in their prime, or Metallica in their heyday or those crazy guys from The Cure... but they’re simply not materialising... there’s a hitch, somewhere. Their inner voices are saying – “If I could just buy that amplifier and those speakers and those wires to go with it... then... then it would surely work... then they’d finally materialise right here... right here, right in front of me.”

You may not be familiar with Siesta movie by Mary Lambert but you may be familiar with the soundtrack to the movie that was composed by Marcus Miller and Miles Davis, the latter also playing his trumpet throughout the score. The title track of the album (Marcus Miller/Miles Davis,Siesta, Warner Bros 7599-25655-2) is, apart from being compositionally the most complex one, the most acoustic piece on the disc with live drums… The trumpet line hovers over the background music in a simple melody… The trumpet was impeccable through the Titan; subtle microdynamic shifts were documented with ease and self-assurance and very close to what you can hear in concert. I did not find any trace of congestion or transient limitation of peaks and this did not change even at higher-than-appropriate playback levels. There is an extreme power reserve in the Titan; I cannot imagine a load that would drive this amp to be short of breath.³


I get plenty of ideas about how to write about these machines, but I still don’t have the exact key. Articles posted on audiodrom.cz have helped me a lot. Thanks to them I grasped that meld of social schemata that define – for all of us – how we listen to something... how we look at things. It’s actually quite simple. Each one of us in their own way believes that it’s possible to control space and time; through the use of technology. We have accepted this faith, and audiophilia is just one of the most radical, and therefore also most interesting, sects. It’s an unbounded faith in machines and their abilities. A belief that one day the breakdown of the time continuum really will be achieved and it will be possible to travel through time; and it’ll be done thanks to musical recordings, or if I stray to other media, with the aid of photographs, film or video.

Rick Fryer of Spectral Audio admits that the development of home audio is somewhat limited by our little understanding of aspects of human auditory perception and by some controversies in interactions of digital and analog technologies. He also warns against a purely scientific approach in designing an audio equipment as this never overcomes our subjective aesthetic issues. Though Spectral Audio’s team has the access to the most advanced audio technologies they keep following the rule that in any contest between theory or test bench measurements and what the ear actually hears, the ear ultimately decides.

¹http://audiodrom.cz/en-version/314.html?start=2; 19.6.2012.
²http://audiodrom.cz/en-version/286.html?start=1; 19. 6. 2012.
³http://audiodrom.cz/en-version/293.html?start=1; 19. 6. 2012.
⁴http://audiodrom.cz/en-version/280.html; 19. 6. 2012.

Sep 21, 2011

GAUGE ECM 47 unboxing

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Uběhly dva týdny a tři dni a já nenapsal větu… slovo. Cítím se poněkud nesvůj…  a kdo by nebyl. Co s tím udělám? Pokusím se to vysvětlit. Snad vás to nebude obtěžovat a přečtete si to. Svým způsobem se to týká i blogu. Pokus se ovšem nemýlím… zatím je pouze hádám… pokud ano… může být dobry začátek. Zatím nevím jak začít… mějte proto prosím trpělivost s tímhle zmatečným a nevyhraněným začátkem. Pokusím se neustálým přepisováním slov a vět najít způsob, jak ten zmatek ve své hlavě… jak mu dát smysl… alespoň takový, aby jste mi rozuměli. Takže, kde jsem to skončil… tak, jak jsem se blížil ke dni, kdy jsem měl zavěsit další text… stával jsem se… prostě jsem nebyl schopen začít psát. Raději jsem surfoval po netu a snažil se na to nemyslet. Ale marně. Jediným výsledkem bylo to, že jsem trávil čím dál více času na nejrůznějších stránkách s nejrůznějším obsahem. Bylo to nekonečné, ale nemohl jsem si pomoc. Nakonec s třídenním zpožděním sedím u počítače a snažím se nalézt v promarněných hodinách… říkám jim tak ze zvyku… všechno pro mě musí mýt smysl… vše co dělám… v každém mém rozhodnutí, v každém pohybu musím být důvod. Proto o to píšu, o tom bezcílném toulání se po síti, bez zjevné příčiny. Nestačí mi pouze tam být a něco vidět, mít dojem, že jsem součástí něčeho. Nestačí mi se nechat nepřítomně unášet. Rád bych se dozvěděl, co mě nutí se podívat tam a pak zase tam. Co to je? Mám si to zakázat?  Nebo mám rezignovat a oddat se tomu? Teď, když si to zpětně čtu… vše co jsem stačil za dva dny napsat… ty náznaky… napadá mě jediné slovo: zrcadlo. Pokud se pokusím rozpomenout na ty uplynulé dny… vidím sebe… trošku jinak… ale jen trošku… jen co mi dovolí matná reflexe… rozmazaný odraz paměti. Nebude to dlouho a snad budu schopen přesně popsat toho… koho jsem tam viděl… a koho tam stále vidím.

Sep 2, 2011

Apple iPod Classic: (Part 1 of 2) Unboxing Generations 1-4

Intermezzo

O čem tenhle blog je? Asi bych takovou otázku taky položil, po tom co bych viděl a přečetl si těch několik videí a textů, co jsem tady minulý týden publikoval. Především, jedná se o první pokusy, jak uchopit něco, s čím jsem se nedávno setkal a co mě tak uhranulo, že jsem se rozhodl tomu věnovat kus svého volného času. Tím je fenomén UNBOXINGu. Co to je? K tomu doporučuji překlikat na začátek blogu a přečíst si první text. Zde se dozvíte všechno: jak myšlenka založit blog vznikala a proč jsem si vybral právě UNBOXING i proč se tenhle blog jmenuje Třetí skupina předmětů. Co jsem ale nenapsal a co je důležité vědět – jak tenhle blog funguje. Každé video a text zde zavěsím každých čtrnáct dní. Ještě nevím přesně kdy, ale doufám že postupem času si navyknu na nějaký pravidelný režim, v kterém zde budu fungovat. Co je ale důležité, pokaždé si budete moci pustit UNBOXINGové video z Youtube a přečíst přiložený text; takové krátké literární útvary, něco mezi fejetonem, povídkou a esejem. Pokusím se v nich přiblížit tématu, o čem vlastně fenomén UNBOXINGu je. To, jak si každý z nás snaží vylepšit, či potvrdit svou pozici ve společnosti. Chci vytvořit prostor plný asociací, v němž bude možné na chvíli zahlédnout potřeby, které nás nutí něco vlastnit. Chtěl bych je mezi myslí a prsty na klávesnici chytat a na ploše monitoru osahávat. Tenhle blog by měl být tedy místem setkávání představ, které se různě kříží, překrývají, srážejí i odpuzují. Snad naleznu něco, co by se přiblížilo tomu, co je tak jasné a zřejmé.

Ibasso D4 Mamba Portable Amplifier Unboxing

Aug 24, 2011

Kadí

Začalo to takhle: v sedmé třídě vyděl poprvé porno časopis; koupil si ho spolužák. Už o těchhle časopisech slyšel, dokonce je zahlédl ve vitríně trafiky nedaleko školy, ale bál se tam jít a jeden si pořídit. Obdivoval toho kluka, za to, že se odvážil a koupil si ho. Moc dobře věděl, že by nic takového nedokázal. Tady poprvé viděl, jak vypadá fyzická láska mezi mužem a ženou. Díval se na ty fotografie a si říkal – „Tak takhle to tedy je.“ Už něco tušil: to proč má mezi nohama tu věc – ten penis, který při pohledu na takové obrázky hned reaguje. A taky proč ženy mají mezi nohama díru – tedy vagínu. Tak je to tedy pravda – tam se to tedy strká; ta jeho věc. Ano, tam. Pamatuje si na několik fotografií, žena sedí na muži, opírá se rukama o jeho břicho, kolena roztažená, do objektivu vyvalené přirození. Vzpomíná si na penis vražený do jejího zadku; na to, jak kůže její análu je tak napnutá – tak odkrvená, že má skoro bílou barvu. „Tam se to také strká? Tím se přece kadí! Co to znamená?“– ptal se sám sebe, ale neodvážil se nic říct. Bál se projevit svou neznalost před ostatními; před spolužáky, kteří stejně jako on stály v tichosti okolo a zírali na tu dvoustranu, na těch několik uhrančivých obrazů. Vzpomíná si také na další fotky, kde ta samá žena má nohy tak roztažené, že je vše vidět; snad aby ani jeden detail neunikl jejímu divákovi, jejímu milovanému voyaerovi. Roztahuje si prsty zadek a tam pod jejím přirozením, tam zeje díra. To co bylo dříve análním otvorem, bylo teď obrovskou černou propastí.


Unboxing my new Dell Inspiron 1525

Předzvěst č.1

Mezi stromy na jedné z mnoha laviček podél cesty od letenského zámečku ke Stalinovu pomníku sedí mladá žena. Celá v černé barvě; tělo v péřové bundě, dlouhé nohy v přiléhavých džínách a lesklé boty na vysoké platformě s podpatkem. Její hezký obličej je orámován bílými vlasy s nakrátko střiženou ofinou. Tenké pramínky ji padají na ramena a splývají po oblečení na paže, prsa a lopatky. Neustále mění pozice a přehazuje nohu přes nohu. Pravým loktem se dotýká opěradla lavičky a levou dlaní zas nervózně přejíždí po stehnech. Občas se předkloní a lokty se opírá o vyzývavě roztažená kolena. Rty špulí do polibku, který vysílá v pravidelných intervalech do nedalekého okolí. Je zde ještě postarší muž. Je také oblečen do černé barvy, ale bunda a kalhoty mu volně plandají po těle; na některých místech jsou výrazně oprané. Na pravém rameni má tašku, kterou si neustále levou rukou přidržuje, aby mu nepadala na břicho a zůstala na zádech. Z jeho hlavy porostlé šedivými vlasy není nic vidět. Tvář schovává za předmět, kterým si prohlíží ženu před sebou. V pravidelných půlkruzích obchází ženu a hledá asi nejlepší místo odkud by se na ni mohl podívat skrze ten přístroj. To není vše, nedaleko nich se objevila skupinka několika desítek lidí, kteří celou scénu pozorují. Někteří členové se mezi sebou baví, asi komentují to, co se děje před nimi; další se pouze dívají. Po nějaké době se někteří z nich, ti nejodvážnější, přibližují a vytahují podobné stroje jako má muž a dávají si je před obličej. Potom se vracejí do a ukazují ty předměty ostatním. Ti se na ně dívají, komentují je a někdy se jim i smějí. Následně skupina pokračuje dál. Několik jejich členů se ještě párkrát ohlédne za dvojicí. Ta celou dobu předstírá, že si skupinky nevšimla. Žena dál mění pozice a muž okolo ní pořád krouží a dívá se do toho černého hranatého předmětu.

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Nosil je na zápěstí levé ruky, na vnější straně, na místě mezi rukou a paží. Měli černý ciferník s bílými čísly, v matném kovovém pouzdře, s koženým páskem a kovovou přezkou na druhé straně zápěstí. Každé ráno vyšrouboval korunku, vytáhl jí ven a když v prstech ucítil mírné klap, když hřídel zapadla do správné polohy; natáhl pérko strojku. Ten mu po zbytek dne ukazoval čas, kolik minut nebo hodin uběhlo od okamžiku, kdy se naposled podíval na své hodinky. Nadbíhali se, o půl minuty každý den. Na konci každého týdne povytáhl korunu s hřídelí o něco více a posunul minutovou rafičku o tři a půl minuty na zpět. To dělal každé pondělí. Vteřinovky, té si nevšímal. Názor změnil jednoho večera, kdy se upřeně díval do toho černého kola. Jen tak, bez důvodu. Mírně rozostřeně, jakoby skrz. A právě v tom černém bodu s šedivým okrajem kroužila oranžová čárka. Dokola, dokola. Stále a stále. Z nudy se začal šeptem strefoval do vteřin, následně do celých minut. Nešlo mu to. Rafička neposkakovala jak u digitálek, po vteřinách; pouze plynule přecházela mezi jednotlivými číslicemi. Lehce je míjela, jako by tam nepatřila. Chtěl tu rafičku zadržet, zahlédnout okamžik, kdy se zastaví, nadechne se a bude pokračovat dál. Tak, jak to dělají ostatní hodinky. Ty poskakují po vteřinách: jedna, dva, tři…

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Possible Instructions for Seeing Oneself


Every time he saw a photograph of his own face, he felt self-conscious. He didn’t know how to describe the feeling exactly; in fact he still doesn’t know that. But he was sure of one thing: he had to see them all He wasn’t worried about the photographs in his possession, they’d been properly classified and archived. It was worse with those taken by others, they got away from him all the time - regardless of whether they’d been taken by his friend, who’d just brought them freshly printed from the photo lab, or were displayed on the small backlit monitor of a stranger’s digital camera. He looked for any excuse to look at photographs of himself. Especially those that included his face. He could not get rid of the urge to examine the coloured grains or pixels. He was aware that at such moments he could be accused of narcissism – after all, if we see someone staring fixedly at their own portrait we consider it suspect - but he saw something entirely different in the act: the opportunity to find the key to who he was. Yet he was not dumb enough to think that he could actually discover his own self through a photograph; he sought something else: to find out who he was in the eyes of others.

Initially he collected all his photographs in several box files. He had everything in them: his family, friends, pictures from trips, photographic documentation of his work. When selecting pictures from negatives he allowed himself to be guided by the emotional bond that tied him to a given photo, or by its aesthetic qualities. Subsequently he would have them enlarged and printed 13 by 18 cm in the nearest photo lab. He didn’t get any contact prints done; he had no money for that. He used only the cheapest possible viewing and selection aid: daylight. He arranged the prints in temporal sequence. Over the several years during which he assembled his archive, he was unable to come up with a more sophisticated form of presentation.
          Everything became simpler from the moment he started electronically scanning the photos and taking pictures with a digital camera - especially because of the lower cost of creating pictures and archiving them. He could store the photos on the hard disk of his computer and open and examine them on the monitor – backlit by artificial light – whenever he wished to do so. Even so, to begin with he tried to continue with his previous system. Perhaps because he felt remorseful and wished to do justice to the many hours of work he’d dedicated to his archive over the previous years. In the end he had so many portrait photos that he gave up and stopped enlarging and printing them. He was no longer able to select the right ones. For that reason he decided to scan the remaining positives and store them in the form of binary code.
          He had all his photos stored in two locations; in the folder entitled Photographs on his external hard disk, where he maintained the linear system of classification, and on his computer in the iPhoto program, where he had already allowed himself to give way to the possibilities offered by information technology, dividing the photos into three groups. The first contained those taken in studios or in photo booths; the second consisted of self-portraits; and the third of head shots taken by third persons.

He tried to find an ideal expression for his face. He was interested in how a particular picture had been taken and in the gesture the photographer had managed to capture. Or, to be more precise, the gesture that he had made to induce the person with the camera to press the shutter-release, and which part of that gesture the person with the camera had selected. He formed an exact idea of the grimace he needed to make in order to achieve the desired effect.
          This worked for some time, but he gradually stopped doing it. He got the vague feeling that through constant repetition the objective of his efforts would come to light. (To change the expression on his face and keep the new expression unchanged until the photographer would be able to compose the picture, focus and push the capture button). He understood the ridiculousness of such behaviour.
          He started favouring the photos in the third group. Especially those taken when he’d been unaware of being photographed. He felt that those were the only ones where he was able to catch a glimpse of how he actually behaved and what was interesting about him.
          
He opened the folder with the photographs he’d downloaded onto his computer just a moment ago… his girlfriend’s birthday celebration… mostly pictures of him and his friends… he looked at the familiar faces… one after the other… at length and carelessly… his gaze slid down to the eyes… or, to be more precise, to the two black pupils in the centre of variously coloured irises… again and again he tried to focus on whole persons and on recollections from the previous evening… in vain… all he could perceive were the same two dots in the middle of variously shaped faces… he was fascinated by them… he imagined what it might be like to be in the space behind them… he thought about whether at some time in the future he would have the opportunity to take a look there… and whether he would even want to… again and again he looked at the eyes in the photographs.

Aug 22, 2011

Introduction


I devote part of my free time and space to trying to understand my surroundings. Often I ask myself: What’s going on here? What’s this supposed to mean? I find clues to these questions in trivial narratives. In small fragments of everyday reality. I try to discern a clear and evident reflection of reality within them. This thought process is precisely what enables me to differentiate and define the phenomena that determine me as an individual. I probably developed this method to the fullest extent in the book One Family of Objects.

The book is concerned with the social and economic transformation that has taken place in the Czech Republic over the last twenty years. Specifically, it deals with the changing relationship between the worker and the machine. I illustrate this theme with the case of a factory in southern Bohemia, which closed down in 2005, where I completed my apprenticeship at the start of the 1990s and where my parents were employed for their entire working lives. Most of the machines were sold off – the new owners included both small scale workshops and large manufacturing complexes in India and Mexico. And my parents also purchased one of the machines. This unexpected decision led me to an idea – I would locate other machines and ask their new owners to photograph them. This would provide the owners with the opportunity to capture – through a camera lens – their relationship with their means of production; and thus to find out why they purchased one of those iron colossi with their hallmark aesthetic: the green finish, the ubiquitous presence of oil and the pungent aroma of steel shavings.

The name of the book is derived from Umberto Eco’s essay Two Families of Objects. In his text Eco divides objects into two families: consumer objects which we all yearn for, and means of production which we do not desire to own, but which are the precondition for the existence of the first group.

In reality, he has not chosen, he has only accepted his role as a consumer of consumer goods since he can not be a proprietor of the means of production. But he is content. Tomorrow he will work harder in order to be able to buy, one day, an easy chair and a refrigerator. He will work at the lathe, which is not his, because (the fair has told him) he doesn't want it.¹

We are familiar with industrial machines from stories told by our parents or grandparents, from documentary photographs and films. Or, more recently, from DIY stores like OBI and Bauhaus, where miniature versions of industrial cutting or shaping tools are on display. They are intended for use by amateur enthusiasts. In other words people for whom they provide, or are beginning to provide, an escape from the reality of the contemporary world. The rest of us are just a little apprehensive about these machines. Their sharp teeth, blades and spikes. They belong to a different time, a different environment. They belong elsewhere.

I decided to carry on with the project and focus on the way our relationship with means of production has changed over the last fifteen years. Again, it was thanks to a coincidental decision – I decided to wallpaper my computer screen with a photograph that my mother took of a lathe which she had operated for 22 years. Thanks to the positive, as well as the deprecatory, reactions of those who saw this situation, I slowly began to understand the interesting potential of the act I had performed. The confrontation of two worlds: that of my parents and its objects, and my own world with its hierarchy of objects.

A room of not more than eighteen square metres, a bed by the door, two tables opposite, a computer on each of them. One of them is mine; the other belongs to my girlfriend. These are the means of production of a visual artist and a photographer. I’m sitting down, looking at the monitor on which the back-lit photograph of my mother’s lathe is emerging. A year and a half ago I selected it as the background for my monitor. I don’t always see it in its entirety, usually it’s obscured by the windows of open programs, but even so it’s still there.²

I look at the photograph taken by my mother every day while doing various things on my computer; in one window I’m writing a text, in another I’m putting together documentation; then there’s my calendar and my email client; I might also be watching a film, listening to music, and, well, doing lots of other things. During my parents’ heyday, the time of my childhood and adolescence, work and play were activities that took place in different environments and at different times; the day was spent at work, the evening either at home watching the TV or listening to the radio, or out at the theatre or in the cinema. That no longer applies; we sit in front of the computer and do all that using one device in one place, at a single moment.

This is the attribute of the computer that differentiates it from other machines. It is a means of production that may not only be used for production – to make a living – but also for entertainment, or both at the same time; and this is the boundary that separates the world of my parents from my own; it’s something which they cannot grasp and define with their intellects – because they have never experienced it.

For several months I tried to find a way out of this situation, a starting point for dealing with this experience. A photograph on my computer and a clearly defined relationship between work and play was not enough for me; I was looking for something more. For a long time I didn’t know how to proceed, what to focus on - I tried and I tried, but I just couldn’t figure it out. And then I realised I’d underestimated the space between work and consumption, that space-time in which we immerse ourselves because we’re bored, unable to concentrate or subconsciously searching for something new. I find myself in this space-time quite often, dragged along by ostensibly endless and random clicks of the electronic mouse. At the moment of my realisation, the moment of awakening, a video called “Sennheiser HD800 Headphones unboxing” was running on the screen before my eyes. I had discovered the phenomenon of UNBOXING.

Unboxing is the unpacking of new products, especially hi-tech consumer products. The whole process is captured on video and later uploaded to the Internet. The term has been labeled a new form of "geek porn." The oldest video on YouTube using the name "unboxing" is the opening of a boxed Nokia E61 smartphone, uploaded on June 12, 2006. There are, however, older videos on the site that show the same activity but using other names such as "opening" or "unpacking". According to Google Trends, searches for the term "unboxing" began to surface in the final quarter of 2006.³

Yes, I’m writing about those guys who make videos where they unpack boxes containing computers, desktop or laptop, and other electronic gadgets and then share them with others on the net. What’s interesting about this? Primarily it’s the tension between the voice of the owners, trying to be as impartial as possible, informing the viewers of what the given object looks like and what it’s capable of doing, and their hands. They’re in direct contrast to the voice, sweeping over the surface of the packaging neurotically, bordering on obsessively, ripping apart everything that stands in the way to the product itself. Most clips end with a shot of an object surrounded by lots of torn cardboard and plastic. For me the voice evokes Steve Jobs’ notorious presentations, in particular those about the iPhone; it’s that evident effort to mesmerise the viewer with one’s eloquence, convince them of one’s truth. The hands, on the other hand, remind me of the way a child behaves after getting a present, when it simulates opening the box with the toy again and again as if for the first time for several days. Interminably, the child places the toy back in the box, clumsily closes it, opens it again and cries out in surprise. But there’s more to it than that. This is only the initial association, the most primitive one. Many, many more come to mind. One thing is certain, however, we can see a reflection of our own selves in these videos, of our desires, hitherto posing as rational thought.

¹Umberto Eco, Two Families of Objects, Travels in Hyperreality, Harcourt-Brace 1986.
²Jiří Skála, One Family of Objects, 2010, published by tranzit.cz in 2010, translated by Marek Tomin.
³http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unboxing; 19. 6. 2012.