I know that none of you asked for this, but here we are, back again like Daniel (retro meme reference for you there, don't ever let it be said that late 30s advermarketingprcunt is out of touch with the kids, yeah?). It's good to see you again; you're looking well, if a bit tired and, well, frayed around the edges; actually, are you ok? Honestly, you can tell me. I won't even pretend to care.
Anyway, figuring out a new CMS for the mailout has taken far more time than I'd expected so I have minimal scope for opinion-wanging; let's get cracking, then. Grab whatever you can which will serve as some sort of tourniquet, tie yourself off and lie back, supine, waiting for the slight pressure before the skin breaks and the plunger drops and oh god that sweet, dull flood to the base of the brain and yes yes yes this is WEB CURIOS!
A hand, pale, slim and with appallingly-bitten fingernails, gingerly slips between the curtains, fingers curling to pull back the material just enough to afford a glimpse onto the stage and to the empty seats beyond.
The vaudvillian slinks disconsolately onstage and addresses the silent, deserted house.
HI THERE! I’M BACK! DID YOU MISS ME?? No, no, you didn’t, did you? And yet, like the proverbial bad penny, the slinking cur which returns after each kicking to receive another dose, here I am again.
So, what’s been going on? Well, Imperica’s had a bit of a wobble but it is STILL STANDING - normal service, or what passes for normal service, will be resumed at some point over the summer, so HANG ON IN THERE, kids. To be honest, I wasn’t really planning on writing anything until everything was all sorted out but then I found myself staring at a 12-page Google doc full of links and knowing that I basically wouldn’t be able to delete them unless I’d filed a Curios out of some weird, damaged info-OCD.
So, here we are then - a BUMPER Curios! Full of the very best - and indeed much of the worst - of the past month or so’s web. Christ alone knows when you’ll get the next one - but you will, rest assured, it seems I can’t stop doing this even if I try - so enjoy this; use it as some sort of distraction from the current malaise. So lie back, close your eyes, let me draw the hood over your head and set the tap running; I promise, this is non-fatal. LET ME VOID MYSELF OF WEB! This, as ever, is Web Curios.
So much excitement! Whether it’s the looming potential threat of international thermonuclear conflict, mental sci-fi technologies or the fact that we lucky, lucky people of Britain once again get to DO A DEMOCRACY, it seems that the future never stops happening at us. It never stops. It is never going to stop, until we do, and then it will carry on without us anyway because we do not matter one iota, regardless of what our parents may once have told us.
Except obviously we DO matter, at the very least in a narrow electoral sense, so, er, make sure you’re registered to vote and stuff, whichever of the fcukers you want to watch screwing everything up for the next 5 years. WEB CURIOS POLITICAL OBSERVATION KLAXON! - the fact that this is all happening so quickly means that I can confidently predict we are in for some CRACKING ‘sex text skeletons inside candidate’s sexy closet’ scandals over the next few weeks, and we are going to have some truly woeful new elected representatives come June 9th - there is no WAY there aren’t going to be some spectacular oddities falling through the cracks, right? So that’ll make up for the next 7 weeks of painful, wafer-thin policy promises, attempts at ‘relatability’, and grin-through-gritted-teeth memebantz, then.
Anyway, you don’t come here for politics (or if you did you are a fool). You come here to have more links than you can possibly click on fed to you by a tired, misanthropic loner with an increasingly doomy outlook and a prose style which can most charitably be described as ‘lightly enervated’. Brace yourselves to receive a fortnight’s worth of internets straight to the frontal lobes - it’s *like* a lobotomy except without any spurious claims to efficacy. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!
How do you take the measure of what a nation believes? How can you, in a fractious political moment – given to strawmen and symbolic threats which are founded in something perhaps a little less than objective reality – get inside of people’s heads and separate the pap of suspicion from the hard kernel of belief?
At a point in time which seems, increasingly, to be defined by the opposition between insiders and outsiders (those included, and the preterite left-behind), it seems reasonable to investigate the interior. And since we can’t comfortably examine what we’re all putting in our heads, we may as well look at what we’re putting in our stomachs. In an age of unparalleled consumption, let’s look at what we consume to stay alive. Assuming that food is as good a place to start as any, let’s look at our habits of nutrition and try to take a pulse by poking our bellies.
Singapore, 2013. I was in the Lion City for a residency at the Singapore-ETH Zurich Future Cities Laboratory to collaborate with their scientists who worked on sustainability. As an artist who works on environmental issues, I had a problem. Despite the fact that climate change affects everyone, it’s hard to get people to care about it enough. “Climate change” are two big ominous words that feel far removed from our modern quotidian existence. Even the other buzzwords around it—“Anthropocene” and “sustainability”—seem too heavy for non-academics to pay much attention to. It was two months into my art residency and I was starting to panic; none of my initial ideas had seemed cool enough, and the clock was ticking.
The problem with writing this on a Friday is that, sadly, by the time I get round to doing the opener the commentariat have had a whole WEEK crafting their INCANDESCENTLY HOT TAKES on the pressing issues of the week and they’ve consumed all the oxygen around the news, leaving me a gasping, suffocating wreck desperately seeking to find a crack in the media bubble in which I exist online through which to suck down a few microns of fresh air.
That’s by way of a non-apology for my failure offer any coruscating opinions on Kendall or school meals or Easter or Saudi or Syria or any of that stuff. Mainly because, I am coming to realise, current affairs commentary online in 2017 is much like Playdoh - all looks different and multicoloured, but spend a bit of time playing with it and it all blends into the one sh1t-hued morass. Opinions, bottoms, proctology innit.
So before you go back to watching politiTwitter desperately trying to work out what the most woke response to The Donald suddenly remembering all the fun toys he now has at his disposal (as an aside, does anyone else think that Assad looks a little like a drawing from one of the Molesworth books? No? Oh), enjoy this cannonade of STUFF off the web, fired at you at high velocity and close distance - you probably can’t avoid it at this stage, so just open your mouth and pray the bleeding eventually stops. THIS, AS EVER, IS WEB CURIOS!
There’s mail I hate receiving in the Philippines – the postcards notifying you have parcels to pick up at the local depot. PHLPost officially denies reports of ‘bartering’ and ‘haggling’ of monetary taxation dues, but the overall experience remains rather shitty.
I am child of the mid-eighties - born in the last year of being a Digital Native but somehow still a Millenial - so the punk, lo-fi indie, grunge and all other "underground" movements of the 90s and earlier largely passed me by the first time around. These movements were celebrated for going against the mainstream, led by visionaries who would, the media proclaimed, eventually give us the tools for free thought and bring an end to bland pop culture.
But a strange thing happened. They were absorbed by the mainstream media and what they had achieved - an aesthetic, a music genre, a fashion - was sold back to us at a premium as a way for us to buy into the culture. Take, for example, urban culture. In her 1999 book No Logo Naomi Klein highlights how brands would "search out pockets of cutting-edge lifestyle, capture them on videotape and return to clients like Reebok, Absolut Vodka and Levi'".
So that’s it - WE ARE TAKING BACK CONTROL! Do you feel in control? Do you feel like you know exactly what’s happening, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there? Do you feel that The Triggering is going to somehow resolve the creeping feeling that everything now happening is so far beyond our ken and influence and that the only reasonable response is to hide and cry?
No, you don’t. Still, CONTROL, EH?
Web Curios cannot, in all honesty, make any claims towards being able to help in that regard, but at the very least you may find one or two things in the following mess of html which put a smile on your face; or, alternatively, which finally convince you that it’s time to build the bunker and nail down the hatch.
So, then, come with me into the past - my past, the week I have just lived online. Slip into my digital skin, so to speak - I’ve always found it to be terribly uncomfortable, so, frankly, you’re welcome to it. This, as ever, is WEB CURIOS!