The capabilities of everyday technologies seem to increase exponentially. Faster, smaller, and cheaper devices are becoming available to ever more people, who replace them more and more quickly. The parallel increase of electronic gadgets’ rate of obsolescence, and their growing prominence in everyday life suggests a move towards a condition I like to call the ‘paradox of late techno-consumerism’: consumer electronics are becoming simultaneously experienced as intimate, precious extensions of our selves, and disposable items that can be discarded and replaced at any time without a sense of emotional attachment. This development raises questions concerning the – often neglected – materiality of electronic devices in relation to waste, bodily intimacy and the experience of safety and violence in public space.
In my work, I foreground the objectness of everyday technologies, and subvert their promises of luxury and progress. I have made a porn/art smartphone app that is available from an adult app store, undergone an operation in which electronic waste was installed on my abdomen by a body piercer, and fired an AK-47 at an iPad to make a slow-motion recording of the impact the bullet on the screen. I propose these acts of decadence as a set of alternate perspectives on the potential of everyday life in techno-consumerism.
Dr. Dani Ploeger is an artist working with computer programming, electronics hacking, cultural theory and performance. His work investigates and subverts the spectacles of sex, violence and waste in techno-consumer culture. He has made a smartphone app that is available from adult app store MiKandi and undergone an operation in which electronic waste was installed in his abdomen by a body piercer. He travels around the world about half of the year to make work, as well as present it at galleries and festivals for art and media technology. In recent years, he has worked with traditional metal workers in the old city of Cairo to encase tablet computers in plate steel, attended firearms training in Poland to shoot an iPad with an AK47, and travelled to dump sites in Nigeria to collect electronic waste originating from Europe.
The 2016-2017 ArtCenter Dialogues theme, “Life Without Objects,” will contribute to ongoing conversations about ecological and economic sustainability by exploring the ideologies shaping the creation, circulation, consumption and afterlife of designed objects. What are the ethics and politics of making objects today, and how might designers learn from this complex landscape to reflect on their own practices? What opportunities and frameworks for design emerge when objects are understood and approached differently? This lecture series will convene artists, designers and scholars from across the arts and sciences to explore these questions, as ArtCenter advances a critical discussion of the social, political, economic and cultural implications of designing and making in a world full of stuff.
The ArtCenter Dialogues, a lecture series made possible by a generous endowment from the Toyota Motor Corporation, brings eminent speakers to the College from a wide variety of art, design and educational backgrounds to inspire creativity, promote thoughtful discussion and broaden perspectives.
Image: e-waste project