Amanda Hammett January 7 2018

Buy Now or Forever Stall Our Advancements


There is no question that "tech gear" implies "stay ahead" given the ever-evolving nature of this field of consumerism. Around the holidays especially, there is an abundance of gizmo ads designed to make buyers feel sick with guilt if they don't give into them. These same ads relish in showcasing the non-committal freedom of last-minute shopping.

A certain kind of stress buying occurs in this crunch time, which means the lazy shopper will resort to buying a bunch of gadgets provided that they are "the latest and greatest". So could it be that this is the time when planned obsolescence is propelled and perpetuated, when holiday celebrants are down to a so-called wire to prove themselves to their loved ones? Buyers who forgot to plan ahead have to go big or go home, making blind purchases that ultimately encourage both the creation of fresh technological advancements, as well as mass disposal of the old in the New Year.

In I, Loneliness Gadget, the main character can't seem to be satiated by purchasing the miracle items that are advertised to him, despite the fact that their shelf lives are limited. Experience Mobile Mobile is a visual reminder of all the cell phone waste created as a result of this time of year. The documentation in Xmas Unwrapped follows the journey of some of the decorative aspects that subliminally nourish consumer pressure, and the film 25KM2 gives a dry chuckle towards the modern world of technological mayhem, relishing in the simplicity and loneliness of one man's unintentional detachment from normalcy.

25KM2, directed by Jana Minarikova

This Slovakian short film showcases the more special side of gift-giving in a world where tech and modernity are favored. An alchemist who uses lightning to create his metals turns into a bundle of sensitive electromagnetic waves after he is struck by a bolt. As a result, the man must live alone on an isolated island, wearing his headgear into town only to sell the baubles to curious, and possibly sympathetic, patrons. At Christmas, the man's wife and children only visit briefly since his off-the-grid lifestyle is devoid of sacred electronic devices. 

Xmas Unwrapped, directed by Toby Smith

The shops in China that create holiday decorations en masse for purchase around the globe help to nudge the consumer along by creating fodder for a familiar consumer-heavy atmosphere. Toby claims that the film is "more of a jab at Western Consumption than Chinese production." All that disposable glittery garnish cultivates the animalistic instinct to find the "hottest holiday gift" that will be gone next year, too.

Experience Mobile Mobile, directed by James Theophane

This installation encapsulates the aftermath of the impulse buy that further encourages planned obsolescence. It uses a chorus of blank defunct cell phones that hang upside down by their charging ports, their lifelines. Here it is easy to picture how many cell phones a household or even an individual has gone through, their ghosts lingering from holidays past.

I, Loneliness Gadget, directed by Can Eren

Finally, the progression of consumerism comes to a head in this portrait of a reclusive man who buys virtually every gadget he sees advertised on his television, each one either breaking or ending up in his closet. Since his virtual reality headset doesn't really work for him anymore, his loneliness compels him to buy the Pet Human gadget. The device turns out to be an actual orphan teen human, sent to his house in a box, except once he inevitably grows sick of the Pet Human the man can't just store it in a closet like his other gadgets. Instead, he drops it off in the middle of the woods. This film shows how the craving to purchase more just accelerates the stakes for vendors. As a result, their new products guide us into technological oblivion, a path paved with constant rebranding and renaming of the things which we are already familiar.

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